Power Steering Failure, FEH

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Power Steering Failure, FEH

Postby feh2goup - October 15th, 2013, 10:23 pm

Today after driving for an hour, my route turned up a steep, slow hill with tight corners. Suddenly the steering went heavy, and I thought at first I had a sudden very flat tire. Actually, the electric boost to the power steering had quit. It felt like driving a tank. After stopping and shutting the engine off and on again got it working again.

My early enthusiasm for this vehicle doesn't seem to be merited. Not only does it keep coming up with problems (to be expected from a used vehicle, but after a certain point it starts looking like an unreliable vehicle), but this failure is dangerous.

There seems to be some background chatter about this, such as:
viewtopic.php?f=38&t=13723&p=299946&hilit=power+steering+failure#p299946
but it doesn't seem to be common and there doesn't seem to be a TSB or recall for it.
2006 Suzuki Grand Vitara JLX-L, ~Maroon Red
2009 Escape Hybrid Limited AWD, Black, bought Jan.2013
- replaced ambient temperature sensor
- replaced hvac blend door motor
- updated SYNC software
- replaced water pump
- brake job
- replaced steering column
- replaced TPMS sensor
- multiple rear hatch water leaks fixed
- rattle in dashboard resolved as loose bolt in steering column coupler
- replaced underbody a/c lines to rear hvac
- replaced backup sensor
- replaced sway bar links
- replaced one outer tie rod (105,000 miles)
- replaced right front wheel bearing
- replaced ball joints
- another brake job
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Re: Power Steering Failure, FEH

Postby Jay2TheRescue - October 15th, 2013, 11:02 pm

Usually, an FEH will rack up at least 200,000 miles before the electric power steering unit typically fails. This used to require the replacement of the steering column to fix it, but now I think there's a repair kit that allows you to just replace the assist motor in the column.
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Re: Power Steering Failure, FEH

Postby feh2goup - October 15th, 2013, 11:56 pm

Jay2TheRescue wrote:Usually, an FEH will rack up at least 200,000 miles before the electric power steering unit typically fails. This used to require the replacement of the steering column to fix it, but now I think there's a repair kit that allows you to just replace the assist motor in the column.


Thanks for that excellent info. I'll have to do some research into the problem and this kit.
2006 Suzuki Grand Vitara JLX-L, ~Maroon Red
2009 Escape Hybrid Limited AWD, Black, bought Jan.2013
- replaced ambient temperature sensor
- replaced hvac blend door motor
- updated SYNC software
- replaced water pump
- brake job
- replaced steering column
- replaced TPMS sensor
- multiple rear hatch water leaks fixed
- rattle in dashboard resolved as loose bolt in steering column coupler
- replaced underbody a/c lines to rear hvac
- replaced backup sensor
- replaced sway bar links
- replaced one outer tie rod (105,000 miles)
- replaced right front wheel bearing
- replaced ball joints
- another brake job
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Re: Power Steering Failure, FEH

Postby Jay2TheRescue - October 16th, 2013, 12:57 am

Apparently, sometimes an electronic box called the "Power Steering Control Module" will fail. I don't know where this is, and I can't find a reference to it in the online Ford parts catalog either.
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Re: Power Steering Failure, FEH

Postby FordService - October 16th, 2013, 8:11 am

feh2goup wrote:Today after driving for an hour, my route turned up a steep, slow hill with tight corners. Suddenly the steering went heavy, and I thought at first I had a sudden very flat tire. Actually, the electric boost to the power steering had quit. It felt like driving a tank. After stopping and shutting the engine off and on again got it working again.


Good morning feh2goup,

Have you been to the dealership before for this concern? If you haven't yet visited your dealership, I recommend that you make an appointment at your earliest convenience. Also, shoot me a PM with your full name, phone number, VIN, mileage, and servicing dealership; we'll go from there. :)

Todd
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Re: Power Steering Failure, FEH

Postby feh2goup - November 2nd, 2013, 1:20 am

I did some research and found reports that earlier Prius' and some Camry and Highlander hybrids had this same problem. Toyota issued a recall and fixed them.

This contrasts with Ford. Not only does Ford not warn their customers that the FEH may have a serious safety defect, not only does Ford not recall the vehicles, not only does Ford not offer to cover the costs to fix the ones that have reported the problem, not only does Ford not offer to fix them at Ford's cost, but Ford, by treating this as a normal repair, actually seems to be comfortable profiting from fixing the defect. A defect that is a design/manufacturing issue and poses a significant safety risk.

I started a topic about an '08 FEH with 500,000 miles on it. I seemed to recall something about steering columns with it, so I reviewed the topic and the related article.
viewtopic.php?f=38&t=20911
That '08 FEH has had the steering column repair done twice, which would support a conclusion that this repair, especially for the '08's and '09's, may be a matter of when, not if.

I certainly can't be comfortable driving a vehicle that may at any time without warning suffer a loss of power steering boost. The repair for mine is being arranged. The assembly alone will cost over $1400. Until mine is fixed, no one else will be driving it and I won't carry passengers.
2006 Suzuki Grand Vitara JLX-L, ~Maroon Red
2009 Escape Hybrid Limited AWD, Black, bought Jan.2013
- replaced ambient temperature sensor
- replaced hvac blend door motor
- updated SYNC software
- replaced water pump
- brake job
- replaced steering column
- replaced TPMS sensor
- multiple rear hatch water leaks fixed
- rattle in dashboard resolved as loose bolt in steering column coupler
- replaced underbody a/c lines to rear hvac
- replaced backup sensor
- replaced sway bar links
- replaced one outer tie rod (105,000 miles)
- replaced right front wheel bearing
- replaced ball joints
- another brake job
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Re: Power Steering Failure, FEH

Postby feh2goup - November 12th, 2013, 6:05 pm

I urge everyone who has had this problem to report it to the NHTSA in the US, or Transport Canada. The more reports there are, the sooner there has to be a recall. The sooner there is a recall, the sooner people won't be endangered by this hazard, and the sooner the repairs not otherwise under warranty will be compensated by Ford.
2006 Suzuki Grand Vitara JLX-L, ~Maroon Red
2009 Escape Hybrid Limited AWD, Black, bought Jan.2013
- replaced ambient temperature sensor
- replaced hvac blend door motor
- updated SYNC software
- replaced water pump
- brake job
- replaced steering column
- replaced TPMS sensor
- multiple rear hatch water leaks fixed
- rattle in dashboard resolved as loose bolt in steering column coupler
- replaced underbody a/c lines to rear hvac
- replaced backup sensor
- replaced sway bar links
- replaced one outer tie rod (105,000 miles)
- replaced right front wheel bearing
- replaced ball joints
- another brake job
User avatar
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Posts: 799
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Re: Power Steering Failure, FEH

Postby Billyk - November 12th, 2013, 9:24 pm

Jay2TheRescue wrote:Apparently, sometimes an electronic box called the "Power Steering Control Module" will fail. I don't know where this is, and I can't find a reference to it in the online Ford parts catalog either.


This is a fairly square piece of equipment that costs around $660 plus labor to install. Other items have to be removed to get at this and replace this part. Failure will be sudden with no warning or overheating issues prior to this failure. Item normally is not in stock at the dealership. It is possible to drive the FEH without this item functioning but it is not really fun during slow speeds and in parking lots.
2005 4WD Ford Escape Hybrid


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Re: Power Steering Failure, FEH

Postby feh2goup - November 13th, 2013, 4:23 pm

Billyk wrote:
Jay2TheRescue wrote:Apparently, sometimes an electronic box called the "Power Steering Control Module" will fail. I don't know where this is, and I can't find a reference to it in the online Ford parts catalog either.


This is a fairly square piece of equipment that costs around $660 plus labor to install. Other items have to be removed to get at this and replace this part. Failure will be sudden with no warning or overheating issues prior to this failure. Item normally is not in stock at the dealership. It is possible to drive the FEH without this item functioning but it is not really fun during slow speeds and in parking lots.


My technician was informed by Ford that this repair requires replacement of the $1400 steering column assembly. The part had to come from Alberta. I've looked at the procedure in the FEH service manual, and although there are a lot of steps, each one looks quick and easy such as a bolt or connector. Though I wouldn't do it myself, it looked like a DIY. Except for the specialized equipment to reprogram the electronics.

Failure when about to make a turn, or while making a turn where there is little margin for error, probably would result in an accident. Given how some car manufacturers handle problems like this, it is possible there have been unpublicized accidents and injuries. I haven't found any, but I also know legal settlements of such matters commonly include a non-disclosure clause. Only Ford knows the frequency and consequences of this failure. But there is no question it is a significant safety hazard caused by a design or manufacturing flaw.

Driving an FEH that has not had this happen, requires weighing the risks. That's not something I "signed up for" when I bought it. In fact, it's something my pre-purchase research did not uncover precisely because it has not been officially recognized.

While I appreciate the nuances of your viewpoint, I don't think it's advisable to allow a possible interpretation that driving the FEH with this condition may be ok because it's not an insurmountable problem at slow speeds. If the power steering wasn't working at all, you'd be continuously aware of the effort needed to steer without the boost. The problem is that it can cut out instantly, without warning, and at any time.
2006 Suzuki Grand Vitara JLX-L, ~Maroon Red
2009 Escape Hybrid Limited AWD, Black, bought Jan.2013
- replaced ambient temperature sensor
- replaced hvac blend door motor
- updated SYNC software
- replaced water pump
- brake job
- replaced steering column
- replaced TPMS sensor
- multiple rear hatch water leaks fixed
- rattle in dashboard resolved as loose bolt in steering column coupler
- replaced underbody a/c lines to rear hvac
- replaced backup sensor
- replaced sway bar links
- replaced one outer tie rod (105,000 miles)
- replaced right front wheel bearing
- replaced ball joints
- another brake job
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Re: Power Steering Failure, FEH

Postby Billyk - November 13th, 2013, 6:55 pm

The power steering control module for the FEH (2005) part number is: 6m6z3f881a. Since I am "older- middle age", I can remember years ago driving automobiles with manual steering. I managed as a young kid and just did the same with my FEH.
2005 4WD Ford Escape Hybrid


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