Last post on Dec 08, 2012 at 4:36 PM
You are in the Ford Escape Hybrid
What is this discussion about?
Ford Escape Hybrid, Steering, Suspension, Hybrid Cars, SUV
#12 of 31 Steering Locks Up / Failure While Driving
Jun 03, 2010 (7:40 am)
I just submitted a complaint to the NHTSB about this. Twice I've had the steering wheel lock up on me while driving. In each occassion, I was going roughly 30-35 mph when attempting to just follow the curve of the road. I'd be going straight, and then go to turn the wheel, and it'd be locked up. Then I'd of course hit the brake, which seemed to release the wheel.
And when I say lock up, I mean lock up ... like when the car is off, you take the key out, and the wheel literally locks. That type of lock up.
I'm curious if anyone out there has also seen this. I have an '09 FEH Limited, 20k miles, 4WD, no nav.
#13 of 31 Re: Steering Locks Up / Failure While Driving [jlcomstock]
Oct 18, 2010 (1:54 pm)
My husband and I have both experienced similar steering lock-ups, that last until you brake, which you do quickly because you are not going where you want to! Most recently, I was moving into position behind our motorhome at low speed when the steering froze. We have an '09 FEH, 22k miles FWD, no nav.
Have you resolved this yet?
#14 of 31 Re: Steering Locks Up / Failure While Driving [fullwoodsue]
by PFFlyer@Edmunds HOST
Oct 18, 2010 (2:01 pm)
Just so it's clear in my mind... you mean a lock up like when you take the key out of the ignition and it feels like the steering wheel can only move a fraction of an inch left and right? Or is it just locked solid?
#15 of 31 Re: Steering Locks Up / Failure While Driving [pf_flyer]
Oct 18, 2010 (4:27 pm)
I can't really say whether there is any movement or not. I just know the steering wheel won't turn where you want it to. It's very scary. My husband has had this 3 or 4 times when driving at road speeds. I had it at parking speed.
#16 of 31 Re: Steering Locks Up / Failure While Driving [fullwoodsue]
Oct 18, 2010 (6:03 pm)
It's a 100% solid immediate lock, I'd say. I'll be going into a curve, and the wheel won't move a millimeter. Unlike when the car is off and you can still wiggle the wheel a bit, this is a very solid lock. But there's so little time ... from time to lock to when I hit the brake is probably just half a second ... I can't begin to try to wiggle the wheel (nor would I want to take the time to find out).
It's enough to almost give me a heart attack. It's only happened twice in 26,000 miles. But if it catches me on a curve on one of these fast, two lane roads, I'll be off a hillside.
No response from NHTSB concern that I submitted many months ago. I honestly haven't even taken it to the dealer. Can't reproduce it. No warning lights. So I seriously doubt they could shed any light on anything.
#17 of 31 Re: Steering Locks Up / Failure While Driving [jlcomstock]
by PFFlyer@Edmunds HOST
Oct 18, 2010 (6:37 pm)
Weird. I'm trying to think why touching the brakes would have anything to do with it. There's a little voice inside of me saying it might be electrical/electronic in nature, but that's just a teeny little feeling and not a diagnosis.
Keep us up to date on this one for sure!
#18 of 31 Re: Steering Locks Up / Failure While Driving [pf_flyer]
Oct 18, 2010 (7:32 pm)
I wonder if it might be by design. Working on mass transit control systems, i'm familiar with many 'fail-safe' mechanisms in the railroad and subway industry. If something like that could shut down steering under some certain conditions that might explain why hitting the brakes fixrs it. It might just be loss of power steering. Andwe cant rule out coincidence and luck the it seems to unlock when i hit the brake.
Will keep you posted.
#19 of 31 Re: Steering Locks Up / Failure While Driving [jlcomstock]
by PFFlyer@Edmunds HOST
Oct 19, 2010 (3:04 am)
The only thing about a fail-safe system on a train or subway is that the train will generally follow the tracks. I assume you're talking about things like a "dead man switch" to stop a train if nobody is driving. But I'm hard pressed to come up with a reason that locking the steering at anytime when the vehicle is moving would be a good thing.
#20 of 31 Re: Steering Locks Up / Failure While Driving [pf_flyer]
Oct 19, 2010 (7:53 am)
I agree. One would think locking the steering should never be a safe condition for a car. But I have an example.
The roll stability control system could go awry. A sensor could be misbehaving and indicating a condition that doesn't really exist ... except the RSC system doesn't know that the sensor is wrong. That would be one instance where the 'safe' condition is to take over and/or limit steering from the driver.
I don't give that as a fail-safe mechanism though, because that's not exactly. A sensor failing in a safety-critical system would hopefully be periodically tested for correct operation and throw a warning if it were failing. Or if it fails instantaneously during use, the computer should assume the most un-safe condition and act accordingly. That would be fail-safe.
If some sensor shows a wrong condition in an RSC system, what is the safe condition? To allow steering and let the person flip the truck (as it thinks it will), or not allow steering and prevent the over-correction by the driver?
This would explain a bit why the brake has an effect in resolving the issue. And I've never felt like I've come even close to roll over at all, but my two instances have been going 25-40 into and out of turns.
I don't know. I've been trying to just keep my speeds low on those roads to hopefully alleviate the problem and give myself time to react if it should happen again.
I'm know very little about what cars do for safety. From my experience with trains though, things are designed to what people think is safe, but there's no guarantee their analysis is correct or all corner cases have been covered. I've seen the fallout of a few train accidents that occurred because fail-safe systems didn't behave as such because some conditions occurred that no one ever thought of or tested to.
Also, many systems on cars a important and safety related, but are not fail-safe. Like your brakes. On a train, the brakes are normally on. If power goes out, the air lines blow, or whatever, the brakes go on. You need power and air pressure to open the brakes.
On a car, it's the opposite. You need power and brake line pressure to activate the brakes. If you lose brake line pressure and/or power, you lose you brakes.
So if the steering is fail-safe, it could definitely command a condition you don't want in your case ... and that's if it's even fail-safe at all.
#21 of 31 Re: Steering Locks Up / Failure While Driving [jlcomstock]
Dec 13, 2010 (3:03 pm)
Well, I took our Escape Hybrid into our local Ford Dealer (same one we purchased it from 11 1/2 months ago). Of course they couldn't replicate the fault. There were no stored error codes, and they couldn't see anything obviously wrong. They looked for updates from Ford, but found nothing. However they did take it seriously, and have replaced the whole steering column under warranty. It took all day, and they were good enough to get me a loaner car.
So now I suppose we just wait and see if the problem recurs!