Today’s automotive technologies ensure that the ride is safer than ever before. One system that is found on newer vehicles is the Steering Assist program. However, this system isn’t foolproof. When the “Steering Assist is Reduced Drive with Care” message illuminates, you need to take quick action to avoid danger.
In this guide, I look at what the Steering Assist system is and show you what the warning means. I also discuss some of the top causes, show you how to fix them, and discuss the cost you might pay. Finally, you will find some answers to your top questions regarding this system and its errors.
What is the Steering Assist System?
Steering Assist works with the power steering system of today’s vehicles. It’s considered one of the top advanced safety systems being installed in today’s automobile lineup. In some vehicles, the program is included as standard, while others have it as part of an optional safety package.
With the Steering Assist system enabled, an electric motor draws energy from the electrical system to ensure you get the steering assistance required when needed. Various sensors are used to detect how much effort or torque the driver applies to the wheel. If more needs to be added, the Steering Assist system kicks in and offers more support.
The Steering Assist program isn’t completely autonomous. The technology isn’t going to take over your steering so you can enjoy a nap. It still requires input from the driver. Additionally, most cars allow the driver to turn off the system when it’s not needed.
What Does The Steering Assist Is Reduced Drive With Care Message Mean?
When the Steering Assist Is Reduced Drive With Care warning message appears on your dashboard or infotainment center, it tells you there’s a problem with the Steering Assist program. You can’t expect the Steering Assist to engage when it’s needed.
For that reason, the warning light tells you to Drive With Care. You will be responsible for keeping the proper amount of torque on the steering wheel without any additional support. This might not seem like a big deal, but if you are used to having this backup protection, you will miss it when it’s gone.
Causes of Steering Assist Is Reduced Drive With Care Message
The most common cause of the “Steering Assist Is Reduced, Drive With Care” message is due to low battery voltage and a stored trouble code in the steering assist control module. It can also be due to a bad thermostat or a bad power steering control module.
Here is a more detailed list of the possible causes of the Steering Assist Is Reduced Drive With Care message:
1. Low Battery Voltage or Bad Car Battery
Steering Assist will malfunction if the electrical supply is interrupted. Power is supplied to these advanced systems through multiple avenues. For starters, the battery must supply the vehicle with its power. If the battery has been disconnected or is dying, many of today’s safety systems can malfunction.
You can also run into the same problems if there’s a loose or corroded connection or wire. The most common reason for the Steering Assist Is Reduced Drive With Care message is actually that the battery voltage dipped low. If that is the case, there is a trouble code stored in the steering assist control module, which I will talk more about in the next step.
2. Old Trouble Code Stored
If the voltage in the car drops low at any time, or if an electrical failure occurs, there will be a trouble code stored in the steering assist control module. Whenever there is a trouble code stored in this control module, the warning message Steering Assist is Reduced Drive With Care will be displayed.
Therefore, if there was just a temporarily low voltage or another electrical issue, it can be resolved by just clearing the trouble codes in this control module.
3. Stuck Open Thermostat
If you see the Steering Assist Is Reduced message together with a P0128 code on your scanner, it can be caused by an issue with the cooling system. If you have a GMC, Cadillac or Chevrolet car, there is a technical service bulletin about this issue.
The engine thermostat is responsible for regulating the flow of coolant through the radiator and engine. It ensures that the temperature of the engine is always within normal operating parameters.
If the thermostat gets stuck open, fluid is going to continue rushing through unchecked. It will cause the engine to run too cool. Because the temperatures aren’t right, the Steering Assist system will malfunction, causing the warning light and an error code.
4. Broken Temperature Sensor
Speaking of the engine temperature, you should also look at the sensor. The temperature sensor is responsible for telling how hot or cold the engine is. If the sensor reads high, the engine is hot and vice versa.
When the car has been running a good amount of time and the gauge still reads low, there could be a mechanical failure, like I discussed earlier, or the sensor could be broken. Because the ECM isn’t getting the appropriate data, the Steering Assist will malfunction.
5. Defective Steering Assist Module
Depending on your car model, there is often a steering assistant or power steering module that reads data from the car and manages the steering assist function for you.
In some cases, the module or sensors are defective, requiring replacement. Other times, it could be the result of a Steering Assist Module that requires an update or is no longer working correctly. However, this problem usually leads to other issues too.
How to Fix Steering Assist is Reduced Warning
To fix a Steering Assist is Reduced Drive With Care warning message, you want to ensure the battery is in good condition and fully charged. Then you need to read the trouble codes from the power steering assist control module with an OBD2 scanner.
1. Check The Battery
The first thing you need to do when you see the Steering Assist Is Reduced message is to check the health of your car battery. You can either do this with a car battery tester, or measure the voltage with a multimeter. Also, check that the alternator is charging the battery when the engine is running.
If you see anything wrong with the battery or if the battery is five years or older, you may want to consider replacing the battery to prevent issues like this in the future. Also, ensure there is no corrosion on the battery terminals.
2. Read & Clear Trouble Codes
With the Steering Assist message, codes should have been set in the computer. With your high-end code scanner, you will be able to read the DTCs, helping you discover the problem. However, not all code scanners are compatible with these advanced systems, so you want to make sure you have a worthy machine.
If there is a multitude of trouble codes, you will do better to reset the codes. You may need to take the vehicle for a short drive until the message illuminates again. In many cases, just replacing the car battery and clearing the trouble codes will fix the Steering Assist Is Reduced message.
Once you have the trouble code, you can perform some research online. Our Mechanic Base database contains many of the top DTCs, so you can figure out the appropriate fix.
2. Replace Broken Parts
With the code in hand and the information you need, you gain a better idea of what to do next. Depending on what must be repaired, it might be possible to complete the fix in your home garage.
For example, it shouldn’t be difficult to change the battery, even without a lot of experience. If you have some general tools and expertise, you might also be able to replace the thermostat, cooling fan or temperature sensor, as well.
3. Consult Mechanic
If your diagnostic ability hasn’t given you a solution, you may want to take the car to a repair shop. Many shops have advanced tools that make it easy to figure out what’s going on.
Additionally, you may need help from a professional shop if you can’t handle the repair at home. For example, you don’t want to try updating or replacing an ECM at home. Many times, this type of work requires help from the dealership.
Cost to Repair Steering Assist is Reduced Message
Your repair costs will depend on what has gone wrong. It also varies based on whether you can do the work yourself or you need to take it to an auto repair shop. However, I have a few estimates that will help you budget ahead.
On the electrical side, replacing a battery doesn’t have to cost anything in labor. You can either do it yourself or have a local auto parts store perform the task for free when you buy the battery there. All you have to pay for is the new battery, which could be $75 to $350 in most cases. If you need to hunt down a problem with the electrical system and fix it, this process could take a lot longer.
The cost to replace a thermostat or coolant temperature sensor is often $150 to $350. Most of this cost is for the labor, because the part is inexpensive.
On top of that, the diagnostics of the steering system can add several hours of labor. Repairing it isn’t always easy. With that said, this is rarely the problem, so this is probably not something you have to deal with.
Why is My Steering Assist Reduced in Tesla Vehicles?
The Steering Assist program in Tesla vehicles is known as Autosteer. Warnings can come on because of external issues, such as a narrow road or missing lane markers. These instances are temporary and resolve themselves, but there could also be a mechanical failure that needs to be fixed.
What Does Steering Assist Mean?
The Steering Assist system in most cars helps to maintain control over the vehicle. It can help a driver remain in the appropriate lane and make controlling the car less cumbersome. Steering force is applied to the wheel when it’s needed and the driver hasn’t made the corrections themselves.
Can You Reset Power Steering Assist Fault?
If the Steering Assist software fails, you want to correct it as soon as possible. Otherwise, you are left to control the vehicle on your own. To reset the fault, you want to read the trouble codes and fix whatever has malfunctioned. Resetting the code without fixing the problem will only cause the light to come back on again.
Steering Assist is a great invention designed to prevent accidents on the roadway. It’s now available with many car models and continues to be included with many advanced system packages. However, the Steering Assist program is only helpful when it’s working as it should.
Once the Steering Assist is Reduced message appears, you know there’s a problem that needs to be corrected. By taking quick action and checking the basic things like the battery, you can get back to enjoying stress-free steering while you head down the highway of life.