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Steering gets stiff at highway speeds

Discussion in 'Model S' started by Chrisizzle, Mar 13, 2015.

  1. Chrisizzle

    Chrisizzle Member

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    #1 Chrisizzle, Mar 13, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2015
    My steering wheel gets really stiff at about 100km (60mph) and above. It makes fine tuning really difficult and I kinda zig zag from line to line.

    Adjusting the steering sensitivity has no effect (comfort/standard/sport).

    I did discover that wiggling the wheel (a few degrees back and forth rapidly but not enough to change direction) loosens it up for about a minute before is gets stiff again.

    EDIT: It has been like this since I bought the car in November 2014. (some have suggested a recent update is responsible)

    Is this normal?
    A common issue?
    Or, should I take it in for service?
     
  2. RonnieKorbas

    RonnieKorbas Member

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    No, that was part of the new update. It's actually a safety feature.
    Most BMWs have it, called DSC. Where the steering limits the ease of input to prevent you from making a drastic input on the steering wheel, accidentally, or otherwise.
    It's normal.
    Typically, in other cars, disabling the Dynamic Stability Control (or in our case, Traction Control), would restore full input from the steering. Though, this was put for safety reasons, obviously, at high speeds.
    It's a good thing.
    I haven't tried bypassing it, but I wouldn't want to either. ;)
     
  3. FredTMC

    FredTMC Model S VIN #4925

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    I'm really not a fan of the stiff feel on rough highway. I like the old comfort feel at highway speed. Right now there's a lot of work on the I5 freeway and the car shuffles side to side from groves in the road. It's often very difficult to control.
     
  4. mknox

    mknox Well-Known Member

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    As has been mentioned, I believe Tesla introduced speed sensitive steering recently. I know mine didn't have it when I first bought the car over 2 years ago and really missed it as my last couple of cars had the feature. I like the steering to be a little stiffer at freeway speeds.

    I note that the OP is from Toronto and I'll mention this: In the extreme cold, my steering gets *real* stiff at freeway speeds and has for the past 2 years. When I turn off at my exit the wheel is very stiff. I believe that with no ICE up front keeping all the mechanicals warm, the mechanism gets a little tight in the cold. It's back to normal after a couple of turns on surface streets. Maybe you're seeing a bit of this effect.
     
  5. Chrisizzle

    Chrisizzle Member

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    How recently?
    It was like this during my first drive in November 2014.

    I don't like it. I'd say it's the opposite of safe since it makes staying in my lane a chore. (I think I had speed sensitive steering in my last Volvo. This is not like that.)
     
  6. RonnieKorbas

    RonnieKorbas Member

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    It was the last Over the Air update, and if it was on your last drive in November, because the car was new, it most likely had the update already in their firmware.

    It's not the opposite of safe. Stiffer handling and steering prevents you, the driver, from making any faulty, irrational, or excessive turns or maneuvers. Unless you're a professional stunt driver, you shouldn't be turning as sharply at those speeds. That is the reasoning behind it.
    Statistically speaking, it is safer to have stiffer steering at high speeds to prevent you from an over-compensated turn or deviation, than to have full control over your steering.
    That's why most cars, including my last BMW I had, gave you a warning when you DID turn off the DSC.
    It's pretty much saying "ok, it's all on you to maneuver this car to avoid something on the road. We are not responsible".
     
  7. fadkar

    fadkar Member

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    While I haven't received my P85D yet, I loved the stiff feeling when I test drove it on an empty windy road! It really tightened up! It made the steering experience a lot better. There's nothing worse than having a loose wheel at high speeds. Although I'm not sure how it would be just cruising on the highway, but I assume the same logic applies.
     
  8. brianman

    brianman Burrito Founder

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    I think you guys are talking about different things. Chris is talking about difficulty staying straight and Ronnie is talking about making it easier to stay straight.
     
  9. AmpedRealtor

    AmpedRealtor Active Member

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    I don't notice any difference with my steering before or after the update that made this change. Is it that subtle? I have my steering set to Standard.
     
  10. Chrisizzle

    Chrisizzle Member

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    That's not what this is. On a windy road, the steering would stay loose. This basically locks the wheel in one position on a straight highway and it becomes a struggle to turn it slightly to stay within my lane. By the time I muscle it, I have made a major correction and I am veering over.

    It it sounds like this is a unique problem and I did not notice it on the service loaner I had. So, I will make a service appointment.
     
  11. fadkar

    fadkar Member

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    Ohh that does sound abnormal. Let us know what the service center says!
     
  12. sorka

    sorka Active Member

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    I've always preferred stiffer steering at higher speeds and the feedback it affords. If it's hard to keep it straight when the power assist is reduced, this is a tell tail sign that your toe alignment is off which can also significantly effect your range. I'd consider having checked.
     
  13. RonnieKorbas

    RonnieKorbas Member

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    No, actually we're talking about the exact same thing....but different affected result.
    The stiffer steering DOES make it more difficult for you to make a mistake of overcompensation. But on the exact same token, if you veer OFF of your lane, it will be a little more difficult to get BACK onto your lane. This, again, is all to prevent you from overcompensating your reactions to either coming off your lane, or avoiding debris on the road, or an accident.
    If you think about the physics of it, at the same pressure you would use to turn the wheel to avoid X accident, if you have the stiff steering, your avoidance will be limited, and you will barely miss the accident, and keep going straight after evading the scene.
    If you apply the same pressure, at the same angle, at the same speed, but with full control over the steering, your car would MOST LIKELY roll over. And a roll over at 60 mph,.....you won't stop for about 8-10, full 360 deg on-your-side- rolls. Believe me.

    Citations: 2 years of High Way Patrol Officer.

    -Ronnie
     
  14. Brass Guy

    Brass Guy Member

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    I don't think so in the case of Model S. It is extremely difficult to roll over. The NHTSA couldn't do it without modifying their setup.
     
  15. Chrisizzle

    Chrisizzle Member

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    ISSUE RESOLVED (in case someone has a similar problem):

    I never bothered with an appointment for service and I lived with the tight steering for 11-months. On my way to work two days ago, I felt a sort of vibration / rubbing through the steering wheel for about 10-minutes. The service light came on with "Car Need Service: Power Steering Reduced."

    I called for service when I arrived at my location and Tesla was adamant about me not driving further. Tesla towed the car to the service center while I was working. They replaced the entire steering rack (and coil suspension if the service report is accurate). It took two days but steering is consistent now. It is equally smooth at highway speeds as on side streets.
     
  16. Candleflame

    Candleflame Member

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    That makes sense. DSC is compulsary in all new cars afaik, although the first Teslas didn't have it (afaik). It does make the steering feel more smooth and less edgy when it's on, but tbh that's a good thing.
     
  17. mobe

    mobe Member

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    I had the exact same problem on my volt. In fact it was common on the earlier volts. What you described is called " stiction " and the cure for volts with that problem is exactly what the SC did for you, replace the steering rack.
     

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