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Huge New GM Truck Recall Covers Electric Steering Glitch

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John Goreham
Contributing Writer, GM-Trucks.com
8-7-2017

Back when electronic, or electric, steering replaced hydraulic assist, many drivers worried that if the electric motor that adds the power steering input was suddenly disabled the vehicle would lose control. Manufacturers poo-pood safety concerns, calling the new systems "fail-safe." Today, GM has announced a huge recall of about three-quarters of a million 2014 model year Silverado and SIerra pickups because the electronic steering may fail and the driver may lose steering control, possibly leading to a crash.

- Background on GM electric power steering here.

 

The NHTSA recall website explains the problem, saying, "The vehicles may have a temporary loss of electric power steering (EPS) assist, especially during low-speed turning maneuvers." The result is explained as well, as, "If EPS assist is lost and then returns, the driver might lose temporary control of the steering wheel, increasing the risk of a crash."

 

GM will follow the law and notify all owners of the problem by snail mail. However, like all manufacturers, GM has a recall lookup website. You can access it here. The plan is for GM dealers to simply update software. There is no mechanical problem according to the information provided.

- Please, check out one of members' excellent background story on this topic in the comments below. Thanks 97 Sierra SLT!

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Back in 99' when I first bought my 97' K1500, there were thousands of complaints on the NHTSA website regarding this erratic "jerking" of the steering wheel. GM introduced this particular electronic VSS system (variable speed steering) in 1997. This VSS system was used in the C/K series trucks as well as full size vans for certain and other GM makes/models. There was not one recall or TSB issued. GM must have paid off NHTSA handsomely to bury this as it would have affected millions of vehicles.



There is a steering column mounted potentiometer that feeds an input signal to the ECM to indicate steering wheel position and an ECM controlled solenoid valve on the back of the power steering pump that will increase/decrease line pressure to the power steering box. The principle is at slow speed, the ECM allows for you to easily turn the steering wheel. As vehicle speed increases, it takes more effort to turn the steering wheel.



I spent years figuring out how to remedy this erratic jerking of the steering wheel without trying to break the bank. I ended up taking the potentiometer off the steering column and taping it to the 12 o'clock position so it could no longer rotate. In essence, I was tricking the ECM into thinking I was always driving in a straight line. This helped as the frequency of the erratic jerk in the steering wheel was decreased, but it did not completely solve the problem.



The next step was to see if I could retrofit a power steering pump and power steering gear box out of a 1996 model C/K1500 into my 1997, thus completely bypassing the VSS system. I couldn't justify the expense and knowing for certain it would work as GM changed the steering geometry in 1997.



I owned this truck for 16 miserable years and would not let anyone drive it as it was far too dangerous. This POS was a true rolling death trap. When I eventually sold it, I told the new owner about this erratic VSS system and made him sign a release of liability waiver before handing over the pink slip.


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I had a 2014 and had this problem. They reflashed the system multiple times and replaced the power steering motor. Nothing fixed it, and the dealer would not buy it back. I ended up just trading it in as it was not worth my life. My 2015 has yet to have this problem.

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I have a 2014 GMC Sierra with 75,000mi. I started having issues with the power steering and various electronic glitches a few months ago. When I contacted my GMC dealership they seemed oblivious to the problem and informed me I would need to bring it in and pay a $150 diagnostic fee being the truck was no longer out of warranty. I decided to do some research on my own that's when I found this forum as well as You Tube videos addressing my same concerns. I found a PTS that covered 5 issues to look for. I was able to do the 1st one myself which involved removing the top of the dash and dislodging rubber mat that got pinched between grounding cables. I had no issues for a week before problems started back up. That's when the recall was issued, I made an appointment and brought the truck in . They tried to sell me on getting a diagnostic test done for the glitches but I explained that they were symptoms associated with the recall. They "reprogrammed" the computer while I waited, about 20min. That was 6 days ago, still having electronic glitches with power steering warnings. Need to follow up with dealership, but doesn't seem as though they will be of much help besides draining my wallet!

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