Last Updated on March 26, 2021
Speed-sensing steering is like a hybrid of power steering and manual steering systems. Since most vehicles have power steering systems these days, a lot of drivers complain that they don’t feel like they’re in control of their vehicles when driving on the highway at high speeds.
In essence, normal power steering gives them too much assistance with the steering and they don’t like it.
However, manual steering has its obvious drawbacks because it does not provide the driver with any assistance. This requires the driver to have to use more upper body strength just to rotate the steering wheel, especially while driving at slow speeds.
With speed sensing steering, you get the best of both worlds. It gives the driver more handling and control over their vehicle no matter what speed they are moving. And it won’t require expending a lot of effort to turn the steering wheel at lower speeds.
When the driver needs to slow down to maneuver or park somewhere, the speed sensing steering system will provide them with power assistance just like a normal power steering system would. However, when they’re traveling at high speeds, the speed sensing system will reduce that assistance so that drivers have better steering “feel” and more control.
Related: Average Power Steering Repair Costs
How Does Speed Sensing Steering Work?
A speed sensing steering system relies on a series of sensors and modules to provide it with information which will help it determine the amount of power assistance to give to the steering wheel.
For instance, these sensors will detect whenever you step on the gas pedal and cause the acceleration of your vehicle to increase. As the speed goes up, the sensors will feed this information to the speed sensing steering system. The system will then reduce the power assistance to the steering wheel.
If you apply the brake and slow down the vehicle, the system will receive this information too. Then it will provide more power assistance to the steering wheel. Since driving tasks like parking and turning require the driver to maneuver properly, it is better they have more assistance with their steering.
What Happens if There’s a Malfunction?
Speed-sensing steering systems are typically designed to revert back to full power steering mode if a problem is detected in the system. There could be a wiring issue or a complete failure of the computer module which regulates the system.
Any kind of wiring problem, electrical problem or sensor problem within the system will cause full power steering mode to turn on. This is not necessarily a bad thing because you will just have full power assistance no matter how fast you are driving.
It is certainly better than the alternative of having no power steering assistance at all, especially for certain drivers. At least with full power assistance, you will have the ability to safely drive your vehicle to the nearest repair shop and have the steering system checked.
How to Get Speed Sensing Steering
Speed-sensing steering is not actually a separate system from a power steering system. You could have hydraulic power steering or electric power steering in your vehicle and still have the ability to utilize speed sensing steering technology.
It is really just an added feature to enhance the basic power steering system technology. That is how it can revert back to full power steering whenever there is a problem with the speed sensors.
If you want a vehicle with speed sensing steering technology, you simply have to make sure the vehicle already comes with it from the factory. If it’s an “optional” feature on a model, it may be added later whether by installing an additional component or having the dealership reprogram the ECM to “unlock” the feature.
Many newer vehicles these days have some sort of speed sensing steering system but it may be called different things depending on the manufacturer.
In addition, many vehicles which offer various driving modes (ie: Comfort, Sport, Dynamic, etc.) allow you to fine-tune the amount of assistance depending on the mode.
For example, a sports car may have a “sport” mode which lessens the amount of power steering assistance which is perfect for autocross, a lapping day at your local race track, or even the Nürburgring.
Once done, the driver can switch it to a “comfort” mode where steering assistance is increased (especially at high speeds) so the driver can drive back home while steering with the effort of literally one finger if so they choose.