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Electric Power Steering Information Compiled

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I tend to ramble and kind of go in a lot of directions with my thoughts, and felt it unfair to clutter up a nice thread like socorob has on his example of the install.

 

So I'll be covering two topics, one is my attempt at the conversion.

 

Second is some more information I found along the way.

 

First off:

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There are more options out there!

 

I struggled and had to run the day after one was put on the yard to get my column, the columns listed below should be in your local junkyards shortly if not already and are much more popular then a midsize american SUV so you should be spoiled for options.

 

While it may not be an options for some, given our relatively light cars there are more options than just the 02-07 Saturn Vue and its clones.

http://forums.vintage-mustang.com/mod-custom-forum/1008722-electric-steering-fail-safe-no-ebay-module-needed-pics-videos.html

To summarize, while there are several units on the market, these units specifically will provide modest assist without having to trick or hack the system.

2004-2009 Toyota Prius
2009-2013 Toyota Corolla
2006-2011 Toyota Yaris - (With ABS works in Fail-Safe).
2006-2011 Toyota Yaris - (Non-ABS needs VSS signal or flashing LED)
2007-2009 Nissan Versa
2009-2012 Nissan Cube
2012-2014 Kia Soul

Basically these have fail-safe settings where when no ECU input is detected, the unit goes into an automatic pre-determined assist setting.

 

 

 

Back a little more to the beginning. This seems to be one of the earlier mentions of the electric power steering.

http://forums.vintage-mustang.com/mod-custom-forum/787114-best-200-mod-ever-eps-2.html

 

The basic premise is to acquire the steering column and adapt the ends as needed. Given our long hood and rearward seating position it seems that we  need the steering shaft in addition to the column to make it to the firewall, depending on how much of the stock system we choose to use. The cheapest and easiest would most likely revolve around using the stock steering shaft, cutting the shaft that goes into the chassis and mating it with the Vue motor output via a coupler, then once again via a coupler or welding attaching the datsun input to the saturn input.

 

That unfortunately would most likely loose our collapsible column feature. Socorob's method corrects that by using the steering column from the vue which has a collapsable column as part of the system, then making a bespoke, but modular piece to mate the datsun rack to the saturn vue steering shaft. Given the number of joints (3) this requires a rigid fixture in addition to the fixed rack to lower the degrees of freedom for the movement. Socorob solves this by employing bearings at the firewall plate to support and to eliminate a degree of freedom. 


With that end taken care of it only leaves the mounting of the motor. The motor can be retained by the two bolts that hold the column, but would be further assisted by employing the pass through bolt used to mount the motor in the stock configuration in the Vue. 

 

Once mounted it is just a matter of adapting the saturn input to the datsun input/steering wheel.

 

The electronics, there are 3 plugs on the 2002-2007 saturn Vue motor controllers.

1. Is the plug for the motor

2. Is the power and ground plug for the controller and motor

3. Is the VSS/ECU communication/ignition plug

 

The bruno controller as far as I can workout without having it in my hands accomplishes two things. One it tricks the EPS controller into thinking it is communicating with the ECU, and second replaces the VSS (vehicle speed sensor) with a rheostat, which allow a user to manually adjust the effort supplied, usually freeway speeds would pretty much remove any assist, while speeds less than 10mph would ramp up the assist, so the box allows the rheostat to start by sending freeway speed signal and as you turn the knob up lowers the simulated VSS signal until it gets to parking lot levels which gives max assist. The bruno box comes with the communication plug.

 

Almost all columns come with the plug for the motor

 

Most columns do not come with the power/ground plug. Ask the seller to grab it for you if you are buying it after market, it is held in by 2 bolts, 1 on the battery with a big inline fuse, another under the dash where it attaches to a ground. Easily pulled by pulling undoing the nut for the power and cutting the ground wire.

 

And lets not forget, for those who could not be bothered, there are 2 commercial options for our cars.

Zcarpowersteering offers a kit for $1500

http://zpowersteering.com/store/

Silvermine offers a kit for $900

http://www.silverminemotors.com/featured/electric-power-steering-kit-for-240z-260z-280z-datsun-1970-1978-s30

Also the bruno controller can be found on eBay for quite a bit less, but all the little parts can be found on his site

http://www.epowersteering.com/

 

What about hydraulic power steering?

While a hydraulic power steering option is definitely viable, depending on the motor the correct pump or conversion fittings may be difficult to source. The racks that work seem to be miata or subaru in nature and require different tie rod ends to make the wheel base situation workout, they are pretty well documented. For some running hydraulics, making the appropriate brackets, sourcing the pulleys etc may be more tedious then some wiring and making a support bracket for an electric system. The benefit of the electric system is that it is adjustable and could be turned off if desired, not something you get with a hydraulic system.

 

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My experience:

I was on a one track mind, socorob did such a good job not to follow in his footsteps would be silly.

 

Finding the column:

Junkyard: I found 3 Saturn Vue's on the yard, they only listed one when I searched, but the Saturn Vue Greenline/Hybrid is in another tab and doesn't cross reference.

All 3 had their columns missing. One of the cars was on the yard for 3 days. 

I stalked the yard's website until they posted one, and went the day after and was able to pull the column. 

Wreckers: I also found a wrecking yard that had several Saturn Vue's. They did not reply to internet inquiries, but they picked up when I called. Most of these yards are still pretty old school and deal mostly over the phone from the last few I have dealt with, I was able to get the lower steering column for an additional fee, they were fairly generous with the harness, it was either a combination of me asking for it nicely or pointing out it only supplied the box on the column, they drove me out to the car and with a pair of dikes I pulled the wire through and cut the ground, took less then a minute. I picked up another column as they had the cheapest drive shaft for another project in the area so I would be going there to pickup parts anyways, and I'm kind of curious to see how cheaply it could be done via reusing stock parts.

eBay: You can find quite a few online, although many posters are wrecking yards and will only post a picture of the vehicle, what you get may be different depending on their definition of column. Most listings with the column removed supply just the motor, many are missing the upper column shell, and almost all do not have the lower steering shaft, I have also yet to see a post with the power and ground harness.

 

Price:

Column:

I paid $88 for my steering column from Pick and Pull, I was on a time restriction so I didn't have time to figure out the steering wheel, air bag, or column switches, otherwise it should be ~$45.

On ebay they go for about ~$100 for the column, the lower steering shaft goes for another $60, complete sets seem to be about $200. Some listings are wreckers and you may be able to ask them to throw in the lower steering shaft.

I called a local wrecker and paid $65 for the column from the wreckers, they threw in the lower steering shaft for another $20 I was also able to grab the power harness for free, your experience will greatly vary.

 

Saturn Vue column and the lower shaft $90 

The woodward steering joint to adapt the datsun rack to a 3/4 DD was $87? $70 for the joint, $17 for shipping

The 3/4" DD shaft was ordered on amazon, for almost the perfect length of 18" $22

2x R18ZZ bearings were ordered on ebay, $6 x 2 = $12

 

I still need to order the pipe for the bearings, some steel if I don't have it for the mounts, the boots and clamps.

 

Overall I'll probably be into this about $250 I imagine.

 

 

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To save yourself some money you can totally pull the airbag and the steering wheel off at the yard.

 

If the key is in the ignition you are in luck you can attempt this pretty early on. If it is not you will have to remove the two screws holding the combination switches which is metric which will then allow you to remove the ignition switch and the lock I believe.

 

Turn the steering wheel so you can access two of the triangular slots at a time roughly point the steering wheel at 10 o clock to get access to the left two, turn it to 2 o clock to access the right two.

 

The air bag is held in by 4 posts with a cutout

DSC01860_zps3zno1nb9.jpg

In the back cover of the steering wheel there are 4 triangular shaped grooves

DSC01864_zpskhtcnz7i.jpg

These 4 grooves allow access to the spring wire.

 

Getting a fair sized flat head screw driver at least 4 inches long and with a fairly large head about 1/4 of an inch or larger you can slide into the groove running along the edge closer to the shaft and turn the screw driver towards the longer side of the triangle, this pulls the wire out of the way of the post, supplying some pressure will allow you to slip the post past the cutout. 

 

The cutouts in the post are secured by a spring wire, the goal is to stick your driver down through the hole, get to the inboard side of the wire and clock it 

DSC01862_zpsht2fn3vo.jpg

So the spring wire moves and disengages the post.

DSC01863_zpswkpjzztb.jpg

Repeat for all 4 posts and you can remove the air bag.

 

The air bag has two connectors, 1 yellow and 1 red. If you are in a JY the battery should be disconnected and as far as I know there is no risk in removing these if that is the case. The yellow tab has a locking tab removing that allows you to free that clip. Red one can be just pulled and that should fall off as well.

 

A 13/16 nut holds the steering wheel on you can loosen this and attempt to do the hammer method making sure to leave the nut on and hammer the wheel at 12, 3, 6, and 9 o'clock and hit it hard enough it should release the friction from the splines and allow you to tug it off the nut is on there so you don't hit yourself in the face.

 

If that fails you can undo the 2 torx T20 screws between the 4 slots in the back of the wheel to loosen the rear cover, with the combination switches removed this will let you slide the assembly down and leave you with the metal base. This will give you room to get a traditional pulley puller if you don't want to use the proprietary steering wheel puller from GM.

 

 

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Much appreciated for this info! I have been mulling this swap over. I think i can live without (or rather maybe not live) the collapsable column and plan on a simple install. Due to size and ease of availability, I was going to try the Yaris non-abs with VSS signal. First I may try just using a pulse generator to vary the VSS signal to see if i can find a static point that works well...or alternatively, I've bought a GPS speed sensor on ebay and will try to run that (may need to scale the speed up or down with either an arduino or 555 timer or something). My only fear is the load with 205 sticky tires and a heavy turbo engine swap. But anything is better than nothing. Look forward to the updates!

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1 hour ago, mtnickel said:

I think i can live without (or rather maybe not live) the collapsable column

Haha, yea it might be super useful in case of an accident, but who knows. One of those you never will need it until you need it type things.

 

I am planning on trying to make a simple install with the other column I will be getting, harvesting pretty much as much as I can off of the stock setup, but even then I think you can still employ the collapsible column from the donor setup just welding the stock datsun joint to the bottom of the collapsible portion of the donor column. I'll try and go over my thoughts for the super cheap method soon.

 

1 hour ago, mtnickel said:

I was going to try the Yaris non-abs with VSS signal

Would be interested in your results with the yaris setup, I didn't go very far into the thread, but the fail-safe mode oneshould be a moderate amount, but probably not enough to make the vehicle feel twitchy on the highway.

 

I think you are spot on, I really do imagine it is most likely some kind of ECU-on-trigger signal and the rheostat controls the VSS via some kind of pulse emitter. Definitely replicate-able with an arduino I imagine, but then you need a power supply conversion and regulator for the arduino, I've heard of the 555 timer, but never played with that, but if it is what I think it is then that would also be able to output a variable signal. Then it would be as simple as sending an ignition signal to power the box, feed the dedicated power and ground, and have the VSS conversion module. 

 

1 hour ago, mtnickel said:

My only fear is the load with 205 sticky tires and a heavy turbo engine swap. But anything is better than nothing.

I think one of the threads I read it was on a factory 5 cobra with an absolutely massive tire like 275 comes to mind with a V8, additionally the saturn vue at least is an SUV which no doubt weighs more than our car, and the most common users seems to be the mustang guys who also have heavy iron block V8's. I think it should be adequate, socorob has been running his for over a year with a V8 swap, but yes time will tell.

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I really hate you for posting this, and I hate myself for clicking on the thread. I've started assembling the parts I need for hydro, but now I'm calling around sourcing the parts for electric. Thanks for making it a bit easier/harder to choose. 🙄

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Sorry, but not sorry :P.

 

Who knows how it will "feel." Everyone says hydro is better than electronic, but as far as I know you can essentially turn this down and it will be the same as a manual rack which I believe trumps hydro. 

 

Socorob did so much of the leg work, I'm following his method to the T on my first iteration. I've already built the lower shaft just by ordering the u-joint and the DD shaft. I just have to separate the column, make a jig and put the pieces together for the next bit, just turned my TIG on for the first time on saturday, so a bit of a learning curve required. Once that is setup I'm going to try the "I'm super broke and going to use as much of the datsun stuff as possible" method for fun.

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Why would you go with hydro over electric? Cost? "ZPowerSteering" is a lot of money but at least you know everything fits/works! That is good for someone like me :)

 

I wonder why people say "hydro is better than electric". It seems like electric is very adjustable, so you should be able to get it close to your liking.

 

Now that I have completely swapped suspension and gotten stickier 225mm tires, I think power steering would really help me. I find I take turns at <30mph (e.g. like turning left at an intersection or onto a side street) pretty wide when I take them at speed because I don't crank enough lol

 

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For me to go hydro it's literally just a matter of add rack and you're good to go. Making the lines is easy and my motor came with a pump.

 

That's the biggest factor. Those of us with motor swaps can usually clear the PS pump hurdle automatically.

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Depending on how an electric setup is made you could have unwanted delay. Like when I asked about some of the other systems, the controller maker suggested I stay with the basic one as the more advanced one that had torque sensing wouldn't be as linear or immediate. I imagine systems built around a stock setup that have torque sensing would have such a delay. 

 

Alternatively some say electric systems don't supply as  good feedback. If you ramp it up it will supply the torque with almost no resistance even if you are steering over a large rock. You could do the same with a hydro, but they have kick back. 

 

We will have to see, like I wonder if the steering wheel will self center with an electric assist setup.

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20 hours ago, Geno750 said:

For me to go hydro it's literally just a matter of add rack and you're good to go. Making the lines is easy and my motor came with a pump.

 

That's the biggest factor. Those of us with motor swaps can usually clear the PS pump hurdle automatically.

 

Ah, I didn't even think of that. I have an 1982 L28ET in mine (swapped by previous owner). If the pump is already there, it seems like a no brainer!


When most people do the engine swap, what do they do with the old power steering? Do they just drain the power steering fluid and seal up the hoses? To get it working again, would I have to do any "reconditioning" first?

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3 hours ago, AlbatrossCafe said:

 

Ah, I didn't even think of that. I have an 1982 L28ET in mine (swapped by previous owner). If the pump is already there, it seems like a no brainer!


When most people do the engine swap, what do they do with the old power steering? Do they just drain the power steering fluid and seal up the hoses? To get it working again, would I have to do any "reconditioning" first?

 

You just don't run the PS pump until you've got a rack to connect it to. Poke around in the engine sub forums and you'll get a pretty good idea of what people are doing.

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