Power steering technician preparing to use diagnostic scan toolElectronic power steering has introduced a whole new level of service into the power steering market. Not only are shops and rebuilders now faced with the challenge of learning to service these electronic systems that look and function completely different from old hydraulic systems with their mechanical parts, but EPS systems also require an entirely different approach to failure diagnosis. In order to stay in the electronic power steering game, your business has to have the right equipment to service and diagnose EPS-specific issues. In this post, we'll explain why your power steering business needs a diagnostic scan tool and how your investment will continue to benefit your business going forward.

What a Diagnostic Scan Tool Does and Why You Need One

Power steering diagnostic scan tool training sessionA diagnostic scan tool is, in practice, is your business's gateway to all EPS service. With a diagnostic tool, you can identify and repair EPS issues and problems that cannot be diagnosed with the naked eye. It's important for power steering professionals to look at EPS this way: because the steering components are electronic, the majority of the issues they experience will also be electronic. Problems with sensors, connectivity, and communication will cause the bulk of EPS failures, and unlike mechanical hydraulic systems, these electronic issues aren't something you can see or hear. So how do you figure out the problem? That's where the diagnostic tool comes in.

Diagnostic tools work by connecting to the vehicles OBD-II onboard computer that monitors the performance of the vehicle's functions. When the diagnostic tool is plugged in to the OBD-II connector, it begins to receive feedback and data from the computer and returns with error codes that translate to which parts of the system are causing steering malfunctions. This feed back is what will guide your technician's diagnosis. While these error codes won't break the issue down to the component level, a technician will know what area to inspect and test as well as what systems need attention and recalibration.

There are many different diagnostic tool options on the market from a variety of manufacturers, but most diagnostic codes are standard across tools as well as vehicles. However, if the tool were to return an unfamiliar diagnostic error code, these codes are easy to troubleshoot using widely available online resources. Once your tool returns a code, you will be able to look up the issue it's pointing you toward.

While the diagnostic tool dictates your entire EPS service approach, from troubleshooting to diagnosis to repair, it can also be used to test the vehicle after servicing to ensure that your tech's work actually solved the problem. With the diagnostic tool by your side, you can be sure that that the right repair was done and that it did indeed solve the problem with the steering system.

Diagnosing the Future of EPS

Trends, production, and OE manufacturing all prove that electronic power steering in the automotive industry is here to stay. Without a diagnostic tool in your shop, you'll be extremely limited as to which EPS system failures you can identify and service. Now that the majority of new vehicles have EPS installed and the proportion of vehicles on the road that use hydraulic power steering is quickly decreasing, your business's ability to serve the EPS segment is critical to your success. While EPS systems can still experience some mechanical issues from time to time, and these can often be identified, at least in part, by traditional diagnosis methods, sight, and sound, electronic problems aren't so easy to determine without the help of a diagnostic tool. In the long run, your investment in a diagnostic scan tool is an investment in the survival of your power steering business.

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