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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:


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.


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.



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


Silvermine offers a kit for $900


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



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.


There are slight differences in the columns. The later model ones neck down to a much thinner diameter than the older ones as in my 2003 column is beefier looking than the 2007 column where the u-joints meet the collapsable 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.


Total parts:

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

2 1/8 ID exhaust 548510 $3

CV boots Dorman 614-001 $14 x 2 = $28

Bruno controller $55


Subtotal: $297



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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


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


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 


So the spring wire moves and disengages the post.


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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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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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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  • 3 weeks later...

To release the collapsable shaft I just used a drill to drill the punch out and pry up the remnants. After prying and ending up with a blood blister and a few scratches I figured it was not worth the effort. Just slide the splines away so you don't accidentally knick them and make sure to clean up the metal filings to prevent bind. You can punch a little lower to prevent it from slipping out if you have that much slop


The R18ZZ bearings are a bit loose on the shaft may need to weld a few high points so it doesn't bounce around.


Make sure to slip the boot on first before the bearing. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Take the ROI 548510 2 and 1/8th inch exhaust tubing and drill out three holes.


This is a pretty crude piece so take a moment to pry the pieces into shape to fit the bearing or if it is too wide tap it in so the bearing is a pretty tight fit.


Then weld the tube to the bearings. This does output quite a lot of heat very quickly so have a rag handy to cool it or you will cook all the grease out. In an ideal setup you would use open bearings and add grease afterwards.


I chose to make a jig off of the old column so that I kept the subtleties in the correct orientation.


From what I can tell the columns are different between the 240z and the 280z as I don't have the 2 hole setup like socorob has.


I cut my tube a little past the retainer bushing. If you slide up the bushing it reveals 3 screws that retain the lower stop for the bushing.


Here is the stop removed.


With the stop removed and the cir-clip removed you can tap out the column, this piece is what I am planning on retaining.


Similarly on the saturn column if you undo the cir-clip and undo the 3 bolts to the motor housing...


You can remove the housing for the shaft.


Here is the saturn's upper column. I think socorob took the bottom of this shaft which is splined and used it as a coupler to the datsun shaft.


This is the datsun shaftI just don't think there is enough room to do this at least in a 240z and still retain the collapsible feature in the lower saturn column (we loose a couple inches since our mounting plate is 4 bolt so we can't quite cut as high on the column. I think the plan will be to cut this spline off of the datsun, then weld it onto the saturn shaft coming out of the motor housing. It seems like it will be the best way and additionally the safest as it retains the collapsable feature.


I took the stock fire wall plate and cut it up if you can grind out the raised bit the 2 and 1/8th tube almost fits perfectly and allows for a little bit of movement as well. The hole spacing for the 240z is 70mm center to center. The plate itself is 100mm. On the 240z if you take out the ridge in the middle it is a flat plate, may be pretty easy to fabricate rather then reusing the old one.


Also just a reference photo for the plugs.

With the ECU facing up and looking at the plugs.

The blue plug that feeds the motor goes to the right.

The black plug main power and ground feed goes in the middle. 

The grey  controller plug goes to the left.

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Since I'll be welding I decided I should try and separate the shaft.


The nut on the back is fairly large. It should be metric, but the store ran out after 24mm, so it is probably a 27mm or something of that nature.


A 1 1/16 seemed to work well enough.


Then I separated the shell with the 2 bolts. The shaft stays in the lower portion.


A few smacks with a piece of wood and a hammer and the shaft came out.

It is pretty neat, I think the pieces in the middle there are trigger teeth that get picked up by the control unit.

There is a pin that will separate the upper shaft, unfortunately I didn't have the right setup to do so.


Here is the layout of all the parts involved. The mounting points on the plate are fixed and everything kind of lines up in this picture. you can see the input into the datsun column is lined up almost exactly with the point where the shaft on the motor gets wider. That meant my cut lines were pretty much where the shaft on the motor get wider for the power steering unit, and right after the splines on the datsun shaft.


While the shafts are close 17mm on the saturn unit I think 16mm on the datsun unit, given the cut point...

you get the splines which are 17.4mm


and the fatter portion of the shaft which is 23.9mm.


the fat point has about 14mm of engagement room


there is a gap of around 17mm from the fat point to where the splines on the datsun shaft will start given the cut point.


You could eyeball this, but given that we are welding an outer shaft, at best it will spin off axis, but more likely it will bind if it isn't exactly centered. Given I have the time and tech, I decided to print my centering piece. 


Kind of the norm with printing, you have to expect a few iterations.

The first was really tall and also the shrinkage was probably a bit more than I was willing to overcome.


So the next revision made more room in the center, the diameters were increased, the bottom to 18.2mm and the top to 25.1mm if I remember and lopped off the ends.


It may work, but the final iteration will have a bit more length to center the weld point while giving max engagement, all while making more room so I can fit a torch down in there.


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I copied the following from the sloppy mechanics on facebook, so don't know personally for sure this will work:

 Someone used everything off the saturn but like 6" of the spline part that goes into the steering box. I used a NRG 177h steering wheel adapter (fits the saturn steering wheel spline) and aftermarket steering wheels.  and for full disclosure- i had to trim off part of the nrg adapter, all the outer lip where the nrg logo is at on the amazon pic. but it was due to the housing that encloses my turn signal/wiper stalk assembly

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Using the saturn column did cross my mind, just swapping the upper mounts out would be fairly easy comparatively, the length would be easy enough to hit with the collapsible lower end. Granted I think the datsun sliding bushing setup is a bit more elegant in some regards. Although thinking about it now, I'm concerned there isn't much to stop the steering wheel from being pushed forward as the stock setup was held back with the bellows that I am deleting, and the lower saturn portion has almost no resistance.

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Definitely learned some things. Socorob's wisdom is on point, really assemble everything before welding. I realized that on more or less final assembly that the datsun shaft sits quite high up in the housing, so I will loose about 1/2 an inch of spline engagement, luckily I maxed out the spline engagement to start with so still more than 1.5 inches or so engaged. I also ended up cutting the saturn shaft housing a bit too close to the motor housing, with the penetration from the welding it seizes pretty hard the last 1/8 inch or so. The motor definitely will need more than this little stamped flange will hold to support the torque assistance anyways so not too concerned.


Here is the welded shaft. The plastic is a pretty good idea, but you really need it super tight to make sure you have perfect alignment. My inline switch to the printer started acting up and seized shutting off the final print of the adapter so I had to make do with one that was a bit shorter, took a couple tries, but I'm happy with it.


Also managed to press the gear back into the housing. I'll have to remember to grease it up later as quite a bit was wiped off, but the shaft spins freely for now.


Here is the datsun column stop welded to the saturn lower column. If I had left about a quarter inch or so more it would have been perfect, but as it is I was already fairly tight on space.


Here it is loosely assembled. I definitely did not account for the hump of the motor in my jig, the motor hangs quite low, but I don't thing it should interfere with anything in this orientation. I wanted to leave the control box face down so I could access it to manipulate the potentiometers. 


Once again socorob is correct that there is a lean to the column from stock. the flange that attaches to the firewall is offset away from the steering wheel inboard towards the trans tunnel. I thought I could get by this, but here I am a bit hesitant as I realize that the upper support can rotate. I hope I made the jig with it in the correct orientation. Luckily this setup is built with some misalignment allowed in the enlarged holes for the dash to column mount and the u joint after the motor which should allow an angle if needed. 

I definitely think some clamps will be instrumental in holding the bearing support to prevent the that from moving about. I am a bit afraid that there isn't much to prevent the column from sliding forward given there is now hard stop. I'll have to devise something to prevent the collapsible portion from moving until it is needed.

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  • 4 months later...

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