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When you turn the steering wheel in the direction you’re headed, your car’s wheels turn to match that. However, the actual process is more complicated, and modern steering systems have become incredibly complex combinations of mechanical parts and electronics. One vital component is your steering angle sensor. There are two types of steering wheel angle sensors currently in use – analog and digital sensors. Analog sensors rely on voltage differences to determine information about angle and turn direction, while digital sensors use a tiny LED light. Digital sensors transmit important information about the wheel angle, rate of turn, turn direction and other data to the car’s computer. When the steering angle sensor finds a discrepancy between the direction your car is headed and the position the steering wheel is pointed, it employs counteractive stability measures to assist in maintaining vehicle control. If your car is in an understeer condition, an inside rear brake will be applied to correct the slide. Conversely, if you’re in an oversteer condition, the stability system will apply the brake on the outside rear wheel to correct your course. If the steering angle sensor is not working, the stability system simply will not work, and a warning light will illuminate on your dash.
There is no specified maintenance schedule or lifespan for steering angle sensors. Ideally, the one in your car will last a lifetime, but electronic components are subject to a number of problems. If you have a stability system-related warning light on your dash or are concerned that your steering angle sensor needs to be looked at, have one of our expert mechanics diagnose the situation.
The steering angle sensor needs to be working for your stability system to operate. Your vehicle will still operate without an SAS sensor, though that safety feature will be disabled. Have it repaired promptly for a safer drive.