Many newer Honda Civic or Accord owners have had trouble diagnosing what it means when the EPS light suddenly comes on on the dash. The problem appears to be more random on the 2012-13 models. Many have filed complaints with Honda and the federal government.
In many cases, the car’s power steering stopped working (EPS) without warning, surprising the driver with how difficult it was to drive (like cars made before the 1980s). Some claimed they couldn’t drive at all, while others said turning was more difficult. These incidents have occurred less than 50,000 miles and with much higher mileage.
Some owners have intermittent EPS issues, which means their power steering was still working fine, but the EPS light came on and off later or went off after turning off the car.
So far, Honda has NOT recalled cars for this issue because there have not been a large number of incidents to justify it.
Things that activate EPS light
The EPS light will turn on in several circumstances:
- Suddenly hitting the brake while moving over 12 MPH with the engine over 2000 RPM for 5 seconds.
- Rotate the steering wheel for 20 seconds when the car speed is 2 MPH or less and the engine RPM is 2000+ (this is difficult to do).
- The RPM of the car is less than 500, but the speed of the car is 6 MPH.
- The car hardly moves or stops, but the engine is at 2000 + RPM for 30 seconds.
EPS triggers are extreme. The last two will activate the EPS light to turn on, but this is normal and it will turn off.
What to do if EPS fails
If you lose all power steering while driving, stay calm. Try not to turn. Stop in a safe place and turn off the engine. Wait at least one minute. The system should reboot, but can be turned back on until the problem is resolved. Try to remember if the light came on when turning, while at a certain speed, etc. Your Honda dealer will want to know.
EPS system and light troubleshooting
The EPS light comes on when the ignition key is ON and turns off when the engine is started. If the EPS stays on after power-up, you may or may not lose electronic power steering. In my case the EPS turns on and off randomly sometimes. It stays off for a considerable time and then comes back on. However, I did not lose the power steering function. That indicated an intermittent problem with a signal from the engine speed sensor, a torque sensor, or the EPS control unit itself. It is not a serious problem for now. This diagnostic code is 22. It may just be an abnormality.
The EPS light does not turn on when you use extreme forward and reverse steering force when stationary. But to protect the system, it reduces the electric current to the controller, so the steering becomes more difficult even if it does not lose it.
There are two possible causes for the EPS light to come on:
- The EPS controller and sensors (the electronic part of the system),
- or a mechanical problem with the rack and pinion steering.
If you can disconnect the EPS controller module (located behind the passenger side kick panel area), the steering will be driven solely by the mechanical system. Steering while driving should NOT pull left or right. Any mechanical problems with the steering unit should be investigated by placing the car on a lift.
If the car has been in a frontal collision, the steering rack and pinion should be checked for damage. There could be a cracked casing. The EPS steering rack is difficult to get to on Hondas, and the subframe must be removed for investigation, because damage cannot be seen if the steering rack remains in the car. However, if there IS damage to the steering rack and pinion, there is usually a strange sound and rough steering that the driver can hear and feel. This usually happens when turning.
Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTCs)
If the car’s CPU cannot be activated when the EPS light comes on, the DTC is not memorized. If the code is not memorized, the EPS light stays on. The memorized codes cannot be erased by disconnecting the battery. Codes 22, 23, 64 and 66 will remain memorized after the ignition is turned off and the EPS is turned off. So if the fault is a torque sensor, for example, you can’t fix it simply by shutting down the engine.