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Steering Assist Is Reduced Drive With Care – Explained

A lot of statistics have so far been useful in the demonstration of the prevalence of road traffic accidents around the globe and over the years. Data from the WHO projects that most accidents happen in middle and low-income countries, and it has also been found that the prevalence of road accidents has reduced over the years.

What we can learn from this is that strictly enforced traffic laws and safe cars contribute to the reduction of accidents. The role of safe cars cannot be overstated enough; nowadays, we have cars that are outfitted with various warning signals and fail-safes designed to keep the car intact and let the drivers know when to check for problems. Included amongst these fail-safes is the steering assist.

Here Is What’s Causing The “Steering Assist Is Reduced Drive With Care” Error Message

Like all components of a car, this system is liable to fault and error. This is where the “Steering Assist Reduced Drive with Care” Error message comes in; an error message on the dashboard (as one might well know) that indicates a fault in the system. There is more than one factor that could ultimately contribute to this problem, and a few of these will be explored in this forum.

What Is Steering Assist?

Steering assist is a part of the power steering system of the car. Typically, this system comes in two parts; a hydraulic power steering system and a power steering assist system. Before the advent of this technology, the maneuverability of the car steering was impaired at best; the only way to control the car was to put all efforts behind the movement of the wheel. Needless to say, this was not very efficient and there needed to be innovation that brought about improved maneuverability. The power steering technology came and provided that through the use of a hydraulic pump to put pressure on the hydraulic fluid, which in turn eases the movement of the steering for smooth driving. The hydraulic fluid does this by being pumped when the steering is moved and then by magnifying the pressure from the motion of the steering and transferring the energy to the car tires.

Probable causes

To be able to fix these issues appropriately, it helps to be aware of the probable causes. While it is true that various things could contribute to this, the major cause has to do with the ECM and its liability to error and fault.

ECM and its liability to error and fault

The steering assist system is interconnected in ways to the ECM (Electric Control Module), which is like the brainbox of all electrical functions in the car. The ECM, having this role, is responsible for the evaluation and measurement of the coolant level and temperature. It is also responsible for the adjustment of these as appropriate. This is an especially important role because defects in the coolant could lead to issues in the car, the most obvious being the fluctuation of the temperature of the car engine.

When the coolant liquid temperature starts to decrease, the fluid in the steering module gets hardened because of this drop in temperature. As one would expect, this would cause the steering wheel to be stiffer, providing the conditions for the steering wheel to assist in working. The steering assist gets this message from the ECM, which relays it after it reads the temperature of the coolant. When the ECM provides inaccurate readings, this nulls the message to the steering assist and affects the capability of the steering module to provide accurate responses to the conditions on the ground. This is when the error code becomes visible on the dashboard and signals to the driver that the steering assist is reduced so as not to respond to inaccurate conditions, which would upset the balance of the steering wheel.

To get further info on this, one can check out the service bulletin titled 17-NA-390.

Other related problems that could lead to this error code coming up on the dashboard include

The engine thermostat is stuck open

Engine thermostats are the part of the engine that regulates and gatekeep the flow of coolant fluid into the radiator. Through this, it helps to steady the temperature of the engine. When the thermostat is stuck open, a lot of the fluid will rush through, keeping the engine at an unnecessarily cool temperature. It is expected that through this, the steering assist would malfunction, and the error code would come up

The engine cooling fan is stuck on a high speed

This is another direct consequence of an engine that is too cold. When an engine fan is stuck at high speed, bit rapidly cools the engine and makes the steering module grease stiffer.

Broken temperature gauge

The temperature gauge reads the temperature level of the car engine. When the gauge drops, it means that the car engine is cold. If the car has been running for a while and the gauge still reads cold, then it means that the gauge is most likely broken and cannot tell when the engine is cold. This spells bad luck for your steering wheel assist.

Against popular opinion, it is not true that a bad thermostat is linked to a malfunctioning AC in the car. However, a malfunctioning AC might cause the steering assist in reducing code to come on.


It is worth noting that the notification coming on might not be indicative of any major issue and might be a simple electrical one. To ensure this is not the case. The best thing to do is to run diagnostics on the engine for problems. The diagnostic fee runs around $180.

On running diagnostics, you should be able to ascertain what exactly is wrong with the car. If the diagnostic errors do not eventually lapse, you would need to take your car to a mechanic.

You could reset the fault code by simply restarting your car if the issue is a minor one. Restarting the car signals all electrical components and puts them in reset mode. If the issues are deeper, you would need to change your thermostat completely. The cost for this goes around $250 to $300. It also helps to change the power steering fluid regularly. A reasonable mandate is to change it every 4 years or at least every 50000 miles. This costs only $120 in most places.