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Very Stiff Steering Wheel Issue

jellybeans

Member
May 9, 2016
39
36
Virginia
Hey All,

A few weeks ago when I was pulling out of a Trader Joe's parking lot in a tight turn and my steering wheel locked up. The car was powered, everything was on except that the steering wheel was very stiff, as if powered steering turned off. Turning the wheel required a tremendous amount of force. I could not give it speed before turning since there was a wall in front of me. I noted the date time and recently put the car in with Tesla Service. They said they were unable to find anything wrong or anything significant in the logs during that period. I find this concerning since for all I know, it can happen when I'm barreling down the highway at 70 mph.

I've search the forums and there have been one or two posts about stiff steering when on Sport mode. (I was on Sport mode.) But has anyone ever encountered a locked steering wheel like this? Any recommendations on what I should do to reproduce this? Tesla is basically saying that it's Fine because they can't reproduce it, which sounds like they don't know what's going on and they're giving up.

Thoughts? Advice?

Thanks in advance.
 

animorph

Active Member
Apr 1, 2016
2,161
1,584
Scottsdale, AZ
It does sound like a loss of power steering. That happened to our son in a BMW on the freeway. Hard to steer, but not impossible.

Did it start working OK after that? That's why the SvC can't find the problem?
 

jellybeans

Member
May 9, 2016
39
36
Virginia
It does sound like a loss of power steering. That happened to our son in a BMW on the freeway. Hard to steer, but not impossible.

Did it start working OK after that? That's why the SvC can't find the problem?

Yes. I went to the big screen, under settings to do a shut-off, then turned the car back on. Yea, basically I restarted the car and it worked again after.
 

sorka

Well-Known Member
Feb 28, 2015
8,318
6,271
Merced, CA
The good thing is if it happens while you're going 70, it should be easy to steer.

Unless he's flying around a corner at that speed. I had my power steering fail on a 93 300ZX Twin Turbo driving over highway 17 from San Jose to Santa Cruz and I'll tell you that was bear to handle. Also, it failed suddenly causing the steering wheel to suddenly straighten out in a split second. I had to apply a ton of force to it to get it back into its radius + compensation for almost drifting into the center divider. I was in the right lane sweeping right and the suddenly less caused me to shoot into the left lane and almost hit the center divider. Had there been a car next to me, I would have hit it.
 

Tribaltech

Member
Nov 14, 2016
207
193
Michigan
Hey All,

A few weeks ago when I was pulling out of a Trader Joe's parking lot in a tight turn and my steering wheel locked up. The car was powered, everything was on except that the steering wheel was very stiff, as if powered steering turned off. Turning the wheel required a tremendous amount of force. I could not give it speed before turning since there was a wall in front of me. I noted the date time and recently put the car in with Tesla Service. They said they were unable to find anything wrong or anything significant in the logs during that period. I find this concerning since for all I know, it can happen when I'm barreling down the highway at 70 mph.

I've search the forums and there have been one or two posts about stiff steering when on Sport mode. (I was on Sport mode.) But has anyone ever encountered a locked steering wheel like this? Any recommendations on what I should do to reproduce this? Tesla is basically saying that it's Fine because they can't reproduce it, which sounds like they don't know what's going on and they're giving up.

Thoughts? Advice?

Thanks in advance.

Hi, I just wanted to add that I saw a very famous YouTube/Tech celebrities post a video about this exact issue. Tesla should be ashamed of itself for treating their car manufacturing as basically a beta testing program.

 

ditzpro

Member
Jul 8, 2016
108
33
michigan
Here it is 2019 and my model x has this issue (2017 x 100d 30K miles) ..
I have been trying to get to tesla service for 2 days now with no luck .
My SC (cleveland) does not answer and the mailbox is full .
Called roadside service and was told 2 weeks to get a diagnosis .
Looking for answers here ...I'm in Michigan with no SC's and a long tow to Toledo or Cleveland .
Thinking I might be without my car for a long time ...Any help would be appreciated .
 

David29

Active Member
Supporting Member
Aug 1, 2015
2,293
1,974
DEDHAM, MA
My power steering on my 2015 Model S 70D failed last fall with symptoms that sound similar to what the OP described. Tesla replaced the steering rack. The rack was the subject of a recall notice I had received some months before, but parts had not yet become available so mine was not called in for service. (Technically, it was bolts in the steering mechanism that were the subject of the recall. The bolts are of the wrong material and rust in the snowbelt if/when they are exposed to road salt.)
Aside from a long delay (8 hours) getting a flatbed arranged by Tesla service, I was treated well. My service center is nearby, though, so it was a minor inconvenience, plus I got a P85D loaner for the two weeks they had the car. One week to get to it, and another week to get parts. The work itself took only a couple of hours, I think.
Tesla service told me that they would have replaced the rack at no cost even if my car was not under warranty, because of the recall.
By the way -- My failure occurred just as I was pulling out of my driveway, so it was at very low speed. I could barely wrestle the car to the curb. With all due respect to the opinion that steering might have been easier at higher speed, I am just as glad it did not happen on the highway -- stuff happens too fast at 60-70 mph to experience a sudden failure like this.
 

sandpiper

Active Member
Sep 25, 2014
2,833
2,322
Ontario, Canada
This happened to me on my 2014. The steering rack had failed due to some corroded bolts. It was a common problem on the early servo-electric steering cars (the AP1 cars) particularly when operated in cold areas where ice/snow/salt promoted corrosion.

Initially it was an intermittent problem as you've described and it slowly got worse unitl the point where the car became un-drivable.
 

Rahtid

Member
Jun 28, 2017
17
13
Parkland, FL
Hey All,

A few weeks ago when I was pulling out of a Trader Joe's parking lot in a tight turn and my steering wheel locked up. The car was powered, everything was on except that the steering wheel was very stiff, as if powered steering turned off. Turning the wheel required a tremendous amount of force. I could not give it speed before turning since there was a wall in front of me. I noted the date time and recently put the car in with Tesla Service. They said they were unable to find anything wrong or anything significant in the logs during that period. I find this concerning since for all I know, it can happen when I'm barreling down the highway at 70 mph.

I've search the forums and there have been one or two posts about stiff steering when on Sport mode. (I was on Sport mode.) But has anyone ever encountered a locked steering wheel like this? Any recommendations on what I should do to reproduce this? Tesla is basically saying that it's Fine because they can't reproduce it, which sounds like they don't know what's going on and they're giving up.

Thoughts? Advice?

Thanks in advance.

I had this happened twice with my 2016 MS 90D about 2 years ago. The first time I got the roadside assist folks on the phone and they had me cold reset the car. Power it off with the touch screen and sit patiently for 3-5 minutes for everything to really power off. If you squirm too much in the seat the car wakes up. Press the brake pedal to turn the car on. When it happened the second time, they replaced the entire steering rack, electronics and all. I was told that it was a function of how the various systems powered up from sleep model and that it was fixed in a subsequent software update. The problem never reappeared.
 
Nov 14, 2015
212
281
Southern California
Here it is 2019 and my model x has this issue (2017 x 100d 30K miles) ..
I have been trying to get to tesla service for 2 days now with no luck .
My SC (cleveland) does not answer and the mailbox is full .
Called roadside service and was told 2 weeks to get a diagnosis .
Looking for answers here ...I'm in Michigan with no SC's and a long tow to Toledo or Cleveland .
Thinking I might be without my car for a long time ...Any help would be appreciated .

I'm sure it's too late for you but for the benefit of future readers, if your car has a safety/drivability issue, you can tow or drive it to a service center without an appointment and they have to take it in for repair. I was told this by roadside assistance and I did it and it worked.

The loss of power steering is almost unnoticeable at freeway speeds when keeping relatively straight, including during lane changes. When stopped, turning the wheel away from center requires increasing effort the farther it's turned and becomes beyond my strength after about 50% deflection. Rolling slowly forward or back helps make it at least possible to fully turn but still enormously difficult.

Small corrections aren't bad if moving at least 15mph. Taking turns on mountain roads from 30-50mph tends to try to pull the wheel straight around the turn so you must hold it with constant effort but it's not enormous effort. My back/shoulders were getting sore after about 10 mins of frequent turns, however. Going a bit slower than normal helps a little. I didn't have too much trouble with 90 degree turns on city streets but I managed to take most of them wide.

This isn't to say that if power steering goes out around a turn at high speed it isn't quite dangerous. One person reported veering across an empty lane and almost hitting the center divider before they regained control. But as long as you're expecting to keep careful control of the wheel, it's possible to carefully drive the car to a service center if you need to avoid the cost of towing.
 

3mp_kwh

Active Member
Feb 13, 2013
1,123
305
Boston
This happened to me on my 2014. The steering rack had failed due to some corroded bolts. It was a common problem on the early servo-electric steering cars (the AP1 cars) particularly when operated in cold areas where ice/snow/salt promoted corrosion.

Initially it was an intermittent problem as you've described and it slowly got worse unitl the point where the car became un-drivable.

I'm on another TMC tech safari. Your problem sounds like mine, but not the others here. Most seem to report sudden failure, not a slow worsening. Mine is slowly worsening, and I know it is in part because my 245 / 21s are low in tread. Despite being the same 245 width, putting 19" snow tires on always significantly lightens the steering. I don't expect that will happen this time, as steering (in 'comfort' mode) is getting heavier more quickly with the 21's.

I've driven cars to, and on, a race track w/o power steering. The difference when you put race rubber on is painfully high around the paddock, or pits, at slow speed. That goes away on track, much like higher speeds tend to reduce the needed input. Food for thought.

Above said, I wish I knew if the bolt recall could produce my symptoms? Tesla has perpetually deferred meeting my recall, when requested. Maybe I should push a lot harder, because it sounds like these bolt failures can lead to warranted replacement of the rack.
 

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