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Old 16-09-2015   #1
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Newbie power steering fix

Hello all Members

Had electric power steering failure on 2005 Panda 1.2.
Found Fiat Forum and a post by 'bluepanda' regarding replacement of steering sensor.
Purchased new sensor from Italian site for £70 including shipping.
After several attempts managed to fit new sensor with correct centering of steering. No expensive visit to Fiat main dealer or the £2000 bill they wanted to fix it. Outstanding!!!!!

After fix driver airbag light stays on and horn no longer works.
Will post more details in Panda forum.
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Old 16-09-2015   #2
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Re: Newbie power steering fix

Sounds good.
Which Italian site?
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Old 18-09-2015   #3
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Re: Newbie power steering fix

Hi Sweetsixteen

The Italian site is on the BAY. The Portuguese site mentioned by 'bluepanda' in another post is not.
You can find this part and for other cars by typing this (121283889495) in the Bay search window. It is an 'ebay Item No.' offered by evolution3-srl.

Unlike 'inovauto' mentioned by 'bluepanda' they seem not to specialize in outomotive parts. 'inovauto' have a more comprehensive offering and specialize in car parts.

Navigating the 'inovauto' site is a bit tedious if you get it in Portuguese but it is available in English as well.

These sensors are offered on the Bay by Brit. outfits but they are asking £129.99 PLUS £20 shipping as opposed to £59.99 PLUS £10 shipping by 'evolution3-srl' The Portuguese site wants 80 EUROS which I think equates to about £60.

I was a bit wary of buying any of these bearing in mind the discrepancy in price, but I was faced with scrapping a very clean 2005 PANDA 1.2 with 70,000 miles on the clock because Fiat main dealers wanted £1,600 Plus VAT just to fix the steering and it was time for a new cam belt as well. Bought the cheapest sensor in case things went belly up.
Very disappointed after first fit when steering turned fully to the right all on its own as soon as the ignition was turned on but persevered and learned the absolute DO's and DON'Ts about fitting these with the exception of ONE thing not to do which I now know has stopped the horn from working and the airbag warning light staying on.

If you are contemplating fixing your Electric Power Steering (EPS) with a new sensor I would have to give you a precise and detailed procedure to follow with the new information recently learned. You do not actually need ANY of the complex computer and program stuff AT ALL and no need to go to Fiat main dealer.


The procedure probably looks long winded in print but is actually very easy and would take me less than an hour to fit one successfully now I know how but who needs to race, slow and methodical wins every time.


Regards

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Old 18-09-2015   #4
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Re: Newbie power steering fix

It would be great if you could take the time to do a full write-up.
We could ask for it to become a sticky so that others with this common problem don't get fleeced.

Great job. Congrats.
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Old 18-09-2015   #5
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Re: Newbie power steering fix

Yes please, I second that. A write up for those of us wanting to maintain our own cars would be fantastic please......

Bergi.
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Old 21-09-2015   #6
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Re: Newbie power steering fix

Hi Sweetsixteen and Bergi,

Thanks for your enthusiasm and the invite.


I would have to post in two separate posts, the first with all the history of how the aberrations in the steering start and how they develop if a driver continues to use the vehicle after the warning light appears (scary) and the second, with the procedure in detail of how I fitted the sensor, for those who just want to get on with it.

Both posts would be massive compared to most of the posts I have seen on this forum.

I'm not a big forum user so I am unsure if stuff that size is appropriate or wanted. Maybe if I post it you will be able to edit it or just say scrub it.

Personally, I think most of the history of the symptoms that eventually led to replacement are essential reading but like I have mentioned above, I am a novice at posting although have read many posts on electronics forums.

In the meantime, I still can't find a coherent description of how to remove the airbag so I can fix the horn and bag connection, In this forum it is referred to as a ''clock spring''.

Regards

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Old 21-09-2015   #7
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Re: Newbie power steering fix

Quote Originally Posted by Satyr Icon View Post
Hi Sweetsixteen and Bergi,

Thanks for your enthusiasm and the invite.


I would have to post in two separate posts, the first with all the history of how the aberrations in the steering start and how they develop if a driver continues to use the vehicle after the warning light appears (scary) and the second, with the procedure in detail of how I fitted the sensor, for those who just want to get on with it.
Yep - great.
Just do it.
Guaranteed it will be well received. This kinda info that potentially saves giving money to dealers and helps us get to know our cars better is very valuable.
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Old 21-09-2015   #8
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Re: Newbie power steering fix

Hi again Satyr Icon.
It seems a bit strange to be sitting here in the far corner of the world asking someone to please take up their time to help me out but a guide to what you have done and how it worked out would be fantastic.....

Everyone here seems to agree these are fine little cars but one of the most annoying problems many develop over time is faulty electric steering. Anything to de-mystify the repair and make it do-able for other owners would be very much appreciated.

Bergi.
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Old 21-09-2015   #9
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Re: Newbie power steering fix

Quote Originally Posted by Satyr Icon View Post
In the meantime, I still can't find a coherent description of how to remove the airbag so I can fix the horn and bag connection, In this forum it is referred to as a ''clock spring''
I don't understand how you managed to replace the sensor without removing the steering wheel, but now you are asking how to? If you did not remove the wheel, you have probably broken something. Good luck with that.

The airbag is held in with three spring clips.
In the back of the wheel are three holes. A flat bladed screwdriver inserted here is used to push the spring clips off their hooks. Each clip has to be eased away from the centre of the wheel, if I remember correctly.

Disconnect the battery and go have a cup of tea. Then remove it. Must give time for the airbag capacitors to discharge to prevent airbag going off.
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Old 22-09-2015   #10
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Re: Newbie power steering fix

Hi portland_bill, Bergi and Sweetsixteen,

There is no need to remove the steering wheel from the steering shaft and the sensor is not housed under the horn push/airbag thing.

The sensor is in a housing approximately half way between the back of the steering wheel and the floor and the steering shaft passes through the centre of it. It is actually behind the dashboard and below it. Access is by removing lower dash closing panel (2 posidrive screws) and the lower steering column plastic cowling (3posidrive screws, 2 upper and 1 at the bottom). This lower cowling also has two points where it clips to the upper plastic cowling along the joint line. You must force these apart but they clip back together on reassembly OK. Getting the lower cowling off the column height adjustment handle is a fiddle but it will happen after a bit of trial and error.

What you will see is a mild steel guard secured by two female TORX head bolts.
Remove these and the shield. Now the sensor housing flange is visible and the huge and very strong circlip will be visible.

Be aware that if you intend to replace the sensor you should do all of the above in order to get a look at the colour of the sheath coming out of the flange. This sheath contains the wires from the sensor and terminates at an eight pin plug.
These sensors are available with four or five different colour sheaths.
Basically, if your sheath is green as mine was, buy a green sheath sensor,
if it's yellow, order a yellow. The colour of the sheath identifies which sensor you have. Confirmation is necessary before ordering and therefore the dismantling mentioned above is also necessary.

The bunch of wires coming from the column in the sheathing are plugged into a box with other plug terminals. The eight wire plug ( only six wires are actually used ) is locked into its' docking port with a smaller plastic wedge which is a different colour to aid identification but is part of the plug body. This securing wedge MUST be prised out before attempting to pull the plug from the terminal port. Don't worry about mashing it a bit, you get a new plug with a securing wedge on the new sensor.

All of the above is what you have to do in order to identify which colur sheathing your sensor has so you can order the correct sensor. I mention the plug stuff because you may want to try pulling and re-plugging the terminal a few times to clean the contacts. It's a long shot but you may as well try.

Getting back to this air bag thing, everybody should be aware that not all capacitors, particularly electrolytic ones, discharge simply by depriving them of current. Some caps. will hold residual charge for weeks or even months until they are properly discharged to earth.
A method that may work would be to leave the ignition key in the ON position after disconnecting the supply/battery. Very difficult to say for certain without schematic (wiring diagram).

Will post two complete mini journals with all the detail. Both are probably essential reading but I have to stress again that the posts from 'bluepanda' and 'captainsaltry' should be read as well. There is a link to a Dormans video which shows how to fit the sensor with the entire steering column removed (totally unnecessary - removal by disconnection from the steering rack may make FIAT re-programming mandatory.

04:30 hours in UK gotta go to work, turn a wheel while Venus is by other dogs enjoyed.

Regards
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Old 22-09-2015   #11
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Re: Newbie power steering fix

You're allowed to go to work, but only to earn enough money to carry on typing!

Thanks for what you've written up so far.
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Old 22-09-2015   #12
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Re: Newbie power steering fix

Hello to All,

Many thanks Sweetsixteen and portland_bill.

I actually caved in and stopped at a Fiat dealer to get a quote on replacing the clock spring connector in the steering wheel boss. They insisted on charging £115 +VAT to put Panda on computer diagnosis. I said I already know what is wrong and what needs to be replaced, can you please quote a price for doing just that. NO.
They won't even give me a ballpark figure.

They want £115 + cost of parts + labour + VAT. These guys really have a nerve considering the stuff thats' been in the News about VW and the emission fraud. Apparently this sort of thing is widespread among EUROpean manufacturers.
Tell us something we don't already know.

Left the forecourt even more determined to help more people beat extortion racket they are running.

Thanks portland_bill for the info regarding removal of horn push and bag.
Logic tells me that it is unlikely a manufacturer would make provision for a safety device like an air bag to deploy when the ignition is off and the key is removed i.e. parked. The possibility is still there so will treat this thing with some caution.
Are the springs you mention coil springs or strip metal??

Where do I post the first big 'intro' part of the sensor fix, here or in Panda??

Regards
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Old 22-09-2015   #13
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Re: Newbie power steering fix

The spring clips appear as a single strip if you can get a torch and mirror to the small hole in the back of the wheel. They just push aside and pop off the hook on the airbag module. It all appears simple once it is off, but a real pain before. I think it is better to do the centre one first, but sadly my memory is now hazy as mine was apart for a nearly three weeks. Having to change the column gave me the opportunity to send the wheel away to be covered in leather, very lovely. (The advantage of having a second vehicle)

Haynes say wheel must be off to remove the cowlings, and when I did mine this appeared to be correct. You must have had a struggle.
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Old 23-09-2015   #14
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Re: Newbie power steering fix

Hi portland_bill,

Many thanks for that info. I can approach fixing the horn/bag connection with a little more confidence.
The upper cowling comes off after removing two small self tapping posidrive screws directly behind the steering boss. I had to get upside down underneath with a flashlight to see them. Refitting these screws with the steering wheel in place would be difficult but I have a magnetic screwdriver for these things so not too bad.
Have refitted upper cowling temporarily without these screws and it seems not to need them. The upper cowling clips together with the lower cowling which IS secured with three screws and it seems fine so far.

Sorry to hear you had to go down the 'whole column' route. That is a nasty expense for a component that really is a very simple bit of kit. I dismantled the sensor I removed from my Panda and will going into detail of what I found in a sort of intro to actually changing the thing.
Was it just the sensor that gave up or were there other ''issues'' as they say now days?
I run two cars as well, the Panda belongs to 'the government' ''er indoors'' 'the gracious ladywife', she flat refused to even get in the thing once it started to show signs of demonic possession so I wind up driving all over the country in a meant for the shopping run. The sooner I can coax her back into it the better.

Thanks again.

Regards
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Old 23-09-2015   #15
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Re: Newbie power steering fix

Hi 'sweetsixteen' and 'Bergi',

Many thanks for your enthusiasm and the invitation.

I was referred to this forum by an electronics engineer who found the post from 'captainsaltry' and 'bluepanda' under the heading Power Steering Torque Sensor Info after I suggested I was going to scrap my Panda and go sulking in my hideout in Portugal in disgust after getting a £2,500 estimate from FIAT maindealer.

Analysis of vintage analogue power amplifier circuits with my very impressive 'nerd' friend was easy compared to dealing with the wall of fear and over dramatized 'we won't touch the sensor, only supply a complete column' attitude of Fiat garage.
This EPS thing is a much overrated dragon and Perhaps with the help of the posts from 'captainsaltry' and the offered photos from 'bluepanda' we can slay it once and for all , at least for Fiat owners. Overcoming the 'Big Business' agenda of beating the crap out of its customers with technology is very do-able but it has to be done very carefully and the legal implications below should be noted.

I do strongly recommend reading the posts from 'captainsaltry' and 'bluepanda' under the heading ''Power Steering Torque Sensor Info'' in conjunction with anything I post. 'captainsaltry' has approached the task in the appropriate 'tech' way but a more 'anybody can do it' method is also valid here.

As mentioned above, there is much LEGAL history associated with EPS particularly from the USA. It was argued that stories of some very dangerous vehicle behaviour, when these EPS units malfunctioned suddenly, rendered the manufacturers liable and at least justified a re-call where manufacturers should correct the fault at their own expense. The up-shot is Big Business won as usual. They argued that the deterioration of the sensor is progressive and that in most cases of complaint, the drivers continued to use the vehicle long after the EPS warning light appeared and that the chance of the software failing catastrophically is about the same as a front tire blow-out and therefore within acceptable margins.
Personally, I used my Panda for around five weeks after the warning light came on and the signal from the TORQUE SENSOR did indeed deteriorate to the point where car was pulling hard to the left. A life that is dependent on a small cheap component fitted to a vehicle is a sad one.

The implication here is that, if you continue to drive a vehicle with the EPS warning light illuminated, you deserve what you get. I only try to give the flavour of this stuff here, the actual documentation is vast and you would die of boredom if you have not already.

A FEW OBSERVATIONS
I have actually dismantled the failed Torque Position Sensor removed from my 2005 Panda Dynamic 1.2 to see what all the fuss is about and to see if it could be repaired with a bit of cleaning or something. This component is NOT packed with complex circuits, chips, diodes, resitors or any digitally programmed 'heavy duty' technology. It is simply 14 very thin, concentric, electrically conductive, circular printed carbon tracks on one disc and 14 corresponding spring steel 'tongues', mounted at an angle relative to the disc they are mounted on, which are precisely positioned to make contact with their associated tracks on the lower disc. THAT'S IT.
Imagine 14 1965 Morris 1000 horn-push assemblies, miniaturized. This is not TECHNO TECHNO TECHNO. No Harry Potter, Camelot etc. more Blair Witch than anything else. The carbon tracks do present a differing electrical resistance depending on length. It is this difference in resistance which is utilized to send an electrical, as opposed to a digital signal or, indication of which direction the car driver is turning the wheel..

The spring steel 'tongues' which make electrical contact with the carbon tracks are very thin and delicate and each is further divided into 5 even smaller 'tongues' forming a structure similar to a brush. The contact ends of these 'brushes' are formed into a semi-circle, ( a bit like the 'ticks' in a box ticking tax form but with the pointy bit rounded off) since they stay in contact with the carbon track for 180 Degrees+ in both directions and would slide in one direction and dig into the carbon track in the other direction if they were not formed thus.

After a few thousand car park maneuvers etc. these contact points wear through the contact area, the turned up end of the 'foot' part of the brush drops off and the then sharpened end of the spring steel 'tongue' digs into the carbon track in one direction and starts to destroy the carbon track. Furthermore, the now detached turn-ups are floating around and interfering with the function of the remaining tracks.
This 'signal', no matter how corrupted or aberrant, is nevertheless transmitted to the 'brain' (( The steering column has it's own dedicated logic processor or controller)) in the steering column. It increasingly desperately attempts to ignore the spurious elements of the signal fed to it from the ''FAWLTY '' Torque Position Sensor and act only on those voltages (signals) it has been programmed to respond to.
Eventually it all becomes too much for it and it says''f--- this'' and sends out a request to the main ECU to flash or display the power steering warning light but still continues to try to do it's job. Eventually it will say ''that's IT'' and sends a request to the main ECU, ''Please shut me down completely, I can't do this anymore'', '' Get me 'outa' here before I catch fire'' etc. and then there is no power steering assistance at all.
All electronic data processing creates heat in the device doing the processing, deciding what is spurious or unreadable corrupted data is still 'processing'. The worse the sensors innards get scrambled, the more 'crap' it sends out, the chip gets hot trying to operate outside its' envelope and begins to output bad data. Turn off ignition for a minute or two, chip cools down and will function again until it cooks again. I think you all know the rest of the scenario.
There will, of course, be many variations of the above all with much the same result ERR ERR etc. OFF.

Now for the TRULY frightening

Limited but not that limited knowledge of production costing, injection moulding robotic assembly, final testing (Quality control ) and labour costs suggests the sensor is more than likely produced for under a fiver, possibly close to£2. Manual assembly and testing of the final product I can see could be done in less than two minutes.
The rest is Business.


My own experience of this steering malfunction manifested itself as a slight off-centre, i.e. a constant slightly heavy right hand was required to maintain a straight ahead condition. Eventually this malfunction was augmented with an occasional buzzing judder and an even heavier right hand, again, to maintain a straight ahead course on a motorway for example. Carry on driving, 'gotta pay the bank back, the TV license, the rates, blah....blah... blah you all know the story, and the vibrating is constant and 'The Jolly Green Giant wants to turn left'. Seventy miles later ( one commute ) ''Good grief, this thing is possessed. It's trying to kill me'' Pulling hard to the left, constant loud juddering followed by periods of no ASSISTANCE to the steering. It's like a workout in the gym steering this thing with no assistance. No self centering. Five minutes ignition off, thrash Panda with branch of eucalyptus, ignition back on, power steering back on but same conditions as above. Repeat, repeat, total surrender, must press on, vast amount of worse things to deal with. Pulled the fuse on the EPS, 475 miles of upper torso workout later getting stronger and looking good in the mirror, a bit like Arnie in The Terminator, too bad about the legs though.
Took Panda to expensive EXORCIST (Fiat dealer). Diagnosis: 'Possessed' Torque Position Steering Sensor. Remedy: ''loads a money mate, can't really exorcise these things, you gotta buy a whole new steering column, loads a money mate, 'ave a look at our selection of previously owned vehicles, they're loads a money an all ..........mate. ''

Up until the point of £45 Fiat diagnosis I was convinced a relay was at fault because the judder was reminiscent of the frequency that a relay will open and close the electric circuit it is meant to control when it starts to 'chatter'. This is a condition which occurs when the voltage to the electromagnet assembly ( inside the relay ) is fluctuating. This fluctuation can be caused by various circuit abnormalities too complex for this posting but one which the average home mechanic can deal with is 'connection oxidation '. REMEDY: pull spade connections apart several times to clear the contact surfaces of this crusty stuff. Oxidation raises the resistance of the connection and therefore drops the voltage. Low voltage can also be caused by a crap battery, crap Batt. and oxidation equals demonically possessed wiring loom.
I mention relays here because I have read a posting on this forum from somebody who took one of the relays apart and rebuilt it believing that these are no longer available. Can't be certain without wiring diagram but it looks like the two circuit board mounted relays on the end of the EPS motor simply reverse the DC supply to the DC motor and therefore it's direction of rotation. One relay activates to: assist turn right, other relay activates to: assist turn left.
It should be noted that most commercially viable relays will have a finite number of times they can reliably activate ( open and close contacts - make and break a circuit). Under 'chatter' condition your relay is using up its' life at several hundred times the rate it is designed for. Big DC spark at contact points burns and sometimes welds the points together also.

Going by the posts under ''Power Steering Torque Sensor Info'' in this forum, I think I would agree that 99% of EPS failures are probably caused by deterioration of the 'SENSOR' because the rest of the system is almost bullet proof with the exception of the two or three examples above, dodgy battery being responsible for most of the remaining 1%.

IF we accept the above is true, why give FIAT dealer £45 to tell you the sensor is defective?. Use the £45 toward a new sensor, why feed the Vampire.

I have laid out my experiences of the sensor failure so any reader can compare their own notes against them and decide for themselves if it is worth taking a £70 risk and trying to fit the thing.

My decision to try replacing the sensor was easy, I don't have a spare £2,000 just lying around for FIAT to Hoover up, or to buy another car. Very much a forced gamble and had to be done quickly so some errors were made and I will be as precise as I can in my next posting, on how to avoid them altogether.

I'd like to express my gratitude to 'portland_bill' for his assistance in getting started rectifying one of these errors, specifically the damage to the 'strip circuit' connection to the horn/air bag in the steering wheel boss. This is sometimes referred to as the ''clock spring'' and is more a description of what it looks like and the fact that it is secured at both ends. This error is easily avoided . Details in next post with step by step procedure.

Please make an effort to watch the 'Dormans video' on You Tube relating to replacing the steering sensor. This will give you a good idea of how easy it is to replace this component but bear in mind that if you follow the guide in MY post, you will be replacing the sensor without removing the entire steering column, only the top half. By doing the fix with the lower half of the column still connected to the steering rack you avoid all the re-synchronizing problems many have experienced.

Please also read posts from 'Bluepanda' relating to replacing the sensor.

Let's get smart and get lucky.

Regards

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