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Steering is almost stuck and very hard like rotating heavy farm machinery all of a sudden

SSKN

Member
Jan 26, 2021
5
3
Los Gatos, CA
2016 Model S 75D

I had really scary experience today evening. After charging, I tried to pull the car out of charger parking spot, I could not steer. Confused and checked under front wheel if anything was stuck. Nothing !. Then I tried to forcefully steer, I could, but it was very hard like rotating a farming machinery with manual ratchet. That too like stopping at every gear tooth.. turn 1 inch, push, stop, turn 1 inch.. push..

It has been 4 years since I set the driving mode to "Comfort", this happened all of a sudden, right after taking out of charging. Somehow, managed to reach home (< 2 miles) by local road. I was literally sweating (43F in San Jose now ! ) and got 50+ honks every single time I was taking a turn and blocking the traffic. It seemed 20mph+ was kind of less harder, not sure whether it was due to stiff hand holding my life.

Called roadside assistance, tried all the reset/power-recycle they wanted me to. Nothing helped.
They suggested to tow the car to Tesla Service center. Yet to be serviced, don't know the root cause, will updater after that.

"What if this had happened while on highway?", still shivering.. happy to be alive ..

Did anyone have any such experience?
 

Vaillant

Member
Jul 19, 2019
270
290
Sunnyvale, CA
I have an old car without power steering. Of course, it was designed that way, but still, it’s quite hard to turn the steering wheel at slow speeds. Once you get moving it’s a lot easier.

So, had you lost your power steering on the freeway, it would have been tough to steer because your car was designed to be assisted, but not nearly as tough as when you are going slower.
 
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MorrisonHiker

S 100D 2021.4.18.2
Mar 8, 2015
9,837
9,209
Colorado
2016 Model S 75D

I had really scary experience today evening. After charging, I tried to pull the car out of charger parking spot, I could not steer. Confused and checked under front wheel if anything was stuck. Nothing !. Then I tried to forcefully steer, I could, but it was very hard like rotating a farming machinery with manual ratchet. That too like stopping at every gear tooth.. turn 1 inch, push, stop, turn 1 inch.. push..

It has been 4 years since I set the driving mode to "Comfort", this happened all of a sudden, right after taking out of charging. Somehow, managed to reach home (< 2 miles) by local road. I was literally sweating (43F in San Jose now ! ) and got 50+ honks every single time I was taking a turn and blocking the traffic. It seemed 20mph+ was kind of less harder, not sure whether it was due to stiff hand holding my life.

Called roadside assistance, tried all the reset/power-recycle they wanted me to. Nothing helped.
They suggested to tow the car to Tesla Service center. Yet to be serviced, don't know the root cause, will updater after that.

"What if this had happened while on highway?", still shivering.. happy to be alive ..

Did anyone have any such experience?
We had a similar experience when the power steering went out on our 2017 S75D. The were several warnings and it was very difficult to steer the car. We were able to drive the car to Tesla and they diagnosed and fixed the problem for a little over $300. In our case, a rodent had chewed through the wiring harness.
 

BigNick

Infamous Fat Sweaty Guy
Dec 3, 2017
1,222
1,459
Pennsylvania, USA
You should be able to feel the difference between reduced (or total lack of) steering assist versus a mechanically broken steering system.

With reduced assist, the steering should still be smooth. Although it will require a lot of effort while stationary, the required effort diminishes with speed.
With a mechanical breakage of some sort, there's usually a point where the wheel feels "physically" blocked beyond the normal amount of extra effort required.

Also, pulling the side of the steering wheel downwards and alternating hands (as if your were pulling a rope to lift a load via overhead pulley) is easier than a "normal" steering motion when power assist is lost.
 

pabla

Member
Oct 17, 2016
284
149
Vancouver
I had something similar happen to me in a loaner vehicle. I had switched into a lane with heavy slush in it and somehow the slush found its way behind the fender liner and got stuck between the wheel. Steering got heavy and I thought I had lost power steering too but after an inspection the fender liner had curled up and wedged inbetween the tire. Were you driving in snow by any chance?
 

SSKN

Member
Jan 26, 2021
5
3
Los Gatos, CA
I had something similar happen to me in a loaner vehicle. I had switched into a lane with heavy slush in it and somehow the slush found its way behind the fender liner and got stuck between the wheel. Steering got heavy and I thought I had lost power steering too but after an inspection the fender liner had curled up and wedged inbetween the tire. Were you driving in snow by any chance?
No. just in bay area. Hardly driven during COVID, just 4K all of last year.
 

SSKN

Member
Jan 26, 2021
5
3
Los Gatos, CA
Here is a similar situation, worth to read the whole thread, particularly last two posts:

U-Joint Problems
Thank you KalJoMoS. Very detailed post and video in it. Took some time to go thru it. The stop and release motion in my steering seems matching, but mine was like every 1 or 2 inches with clocks' seconds pointer tick movement in low speed turning. It may be just what the video describes, I couldn't see under the hood.
 

KingRaptor

Member
Jan 16, 2019
37
44
Atlanta, GA, US
I had this happen on my December 2016 Model X (also just outside the recall window). Service Center diagnosed and said the steering rack was rusted. FWIW, I drove the car during a rain storm home, parked in the garage, and went on vacation for a week. Came back to stiffer steering and thinking the latest software update made the car more “sporty”. I didn’t think much of it until a friend who owns a Model S drove my X and commented that something was wrong.

So it might be rusted bolts per the recall or something else rusted somewhere like my car.
 

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