Bad Steering Angle Sensor Symptoms, Causes, and Replacement Cost

The steering angle sensor (SAS) serves multiple purposes across various control modules in a vehicle. The new car models have lots of sensors that communicate with the engine control module (ECM) of your car. Among these is the steering angle sensor, which plays a crucial role in monitoring the stability and traction of the vehicle. This sensor is integrated into the stability systems, which are known by different names.

Steering Angle Sensor

When the steering angle sensor goes bad, it produces different such as uneven tire wear, compromised handling, power steering issues, or unusual sounds during steering.

In this article, we will talk about the bad steering angle sensor symptoms, causes, function, and replacement cost.

Function of a Steering Angle Sensor

The steering angle sensor (SAS) of a vehicle is responsible for determining the desired steering direction of the driver, aligning the position of the steering wheel with the orientation of the car’s wheels.

Function of Steering Angle Sensor

Typically installed within the steering column, this sensor unit incorporates multiple sensors for redundancy, precision, and diagnostic capabilities.

Furthermore, the SAS also offers insights into the speed at which the steering wheel is being turned. While swift steering wheel turns are expected at lower vehicle speeds, they are considered abnormal while driving fast.

If you turn the steering wheel quickly when driving fast, the car’s Electronic Stability Control (ESC) system might think you’re having trouble controlling the car’s direction.

Symptoms Of A Bad Steering Angle Sensor

The following are the most common symptoms of a bad steering wheel angle sensor:

  • Check Engine Light
  • Traction Control Light
  • Car Acts Strange After Wheel Alignment
  • Heavy Steering Wheel Turning
  • Increased Tire Wear
  • Erratic Behavior of ADAS
  • Variations in Steering Boost

1) Check Engine Light

Check Engine Light

In the vehicle models, there was a sensor that talked to the ECM (the car’s brain). When the check engine light turns on in your dashboard, it can mean different issues with the engine and other parts of the car.

The engine control module and the traction control of your vehicle use the steering angle sensor data to work efficiently. When this sensor becomes faulty, your ECM may activate the check engine light.

So, if you notice an illuminated check engine light, it could be because of a problem with the steering angle sensor.

2) Traction Control Light

Traction Control Warning Light

As we talked about earlier, the steering angle sensor works together with the traction control system.

When your car runs on a slippery area, the traction control system utilizes the data of the steering angle sensor to see how much you’re steering the vehicle. If this sensor doesn’t give the right information, the traction control light may turn on.

You might also see other warning lights, such as Airbag light or ABS light. The airbag is typically connected to the steering angle sensor. So, if there is something wrong with the sensor’s wires, you may face airbag issues too.

Read More: ESC Meaning and Causes

3) Car Acts Strange After Wheel Alignment

Steering Wheel Alignment fault

You may observe this symptom if your car has an electric power steering pump, which is common in the new models.

If your vehicle seems odd or drives strangely even after getting a wheel alignment, it could be because of an issue with the steering angle sensor.

After getting a wheel alignment, it’s important to reset the steering angle sensor. If the mechanic forgets to perform this job, you might face this issue. In such a case, you should go back to the mechanic to have the sensor reset and the wheels aligned again.

Read More: Bad Wheel Alignment Symptoms and Causes

4) Heavy Steering Wheel Turning

Heavy Steering Wheel Turning, symptoms of bad steering angle sensor

The latest vehicles have electric power steering. This type of steering needs to know when to activate the power steering pump, and that’s where the steering angle sensor comes in.

The steering angle sensor does the important task of measuring how much you’re turning the steering wheel. But sometimes, this sensor could have given the vehicle’s computer the wrong information. This could lead to the car making changes it didn’t need to.

Or, the sensor might have completely stopped working, which means the computer doesn’t get any info from it. When this happens, the traction control light could light up, and your power steering might not work.

5) Increased Tire Wear

tire wear

Increased tire wear is also one of the clear symptoms of a bad steering angle sensor. When this sensor goes bad, it may affect how the vehicle’s tires interact with the road surface. This may cause uneven tire wear, as well as reduced control and performance.

6) Erratic Behavior of ADAS


Some new cars contain advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), such as adaptive cruise control or lane departure warning. When the steering angle sensor becomes faulty, these systems may start to behave unpredictably or not operate properly.

7) Variations in Steering Boost

When you notice that the steering sensitivity changes a lot within just one turn, it indicates a problem with the steering angle sensor. It’s like the sensor gets confused and makes the steering feel inconsistent.

What Causes Steering Angle Sensor to Fail?

The steering angle sensor may become faulty due to one or more of the following causes:

1) Damaged Wiring

Adverse weather conditions, the natural effects of usage, rodent infestations, subpar repair work, and insufficient car maintenance can all contribute to the degradation of your car’s wiring.

When wires become compromised, their ability to transmit signals is impaired. Consequently, the steering angle sensor may fail to convey proper data to the vehicle’s computer system. 

2) Failure to Reset After Alignment

In scenarios where you engage professional car service, such as realigning your tires, an oversight by the mechanic to reset the steering angle sensor can result in it trying to interpret movements based on the previous tire positions. To rectify this, returning to the mechanic for a sensor reset is advised.

3) Wear and Tear

Like other mechanical parts, the steering angle sensor of your car may also wear out because of normal usage over time. The internal parts of the sensor, like the electronic circuitry or potentiometers, may become faulty, affecting the sensor’s performance.

4) Environmental Factors

Environmental factors, including exposure to chemicals, humidity, or excessive temperatures, may damage the parts of the sensor over time, causing it to become faulty.

5) Improper Handling

The mishandling of the steering angle sensor during repair or maintenance may cause its failure. The improper connections, rough handling, or wrong installation may cause the failure of the sensor.

6) Accidents or Collisions

In case of an accident, your steering angle sensor and its internal parts may get damage, causing premature failure or wrong readings.

How to Replace a Steering Angle Sensor?

If your steering angle sensor is faulty and you want to replace it, follow the below-given steps:

  1. Begin by disconnecting the negative terminal of the battery to avert any potential electrical issues while repairing or replacing a part.
  2. Find the Steering Angle Sensor (SAS), typically positioned near the steering column and behind the instrument panel.
  3. Disconnect the steering angle sensor by using a socket wrench.
  4. Gently remove the SAS and disconnect the electrical connectors located at the back of the sensor.
  5. Fix the new sensor in its position, ensuring a secure fit, and connect the connectors again.
  6. Use the socket wrench again to securely fasten the sensor by tightening the bolts.
  7. Reconnect the negative terminal of the battery to restore power.
  8. Turn on the engine and employ an OBD-II scan tool to clear any error codes that might have been activated by the faulty sensor.
  9. Conduct a test drive of your car to verify the proper functionality of the newly installed SAS.

How to Reset Steering Angle Sensor?

Follow the below-given steps to reset the steering angle sensor:

  • Ensure your vehicle is parked on a level surface and switch off the engine.
  • Remove the negative terminal of the battery to avert any potential electrical shock.
  • Remove the nuts securing the cable to the terminal by using a wrench.
  • Locate the SAS positioned on the steering column, often situated near the upper part of the column.
  • Loosen the retaining nuts that secure the sensor to the column using a wrench.
  • Gently detach the sensor from the column and unplug the electrical connector attached to the sensor.
  • Reconnect the electrical connector securely to the sensor.
  • While holding the sensor in position, tighten the retaining nuts by using the wrench.
  • Reattach the negative terminal of the battery and firmly secure the nut.
  • Turn on your vehicle and test the steering mechanism to ensure its proper operation.

Location of the Steering Angle Sensor

In the majority of cars, you’ll find the steering angle sensor positioned behind the steering wheel, encircling the steering column.

Steering Angle Sensor location

While in the case of a few vehicles, it might be installed within the steering gear, such instances are relatively uncommon. It’s worth noting that certain cars are equipped with two steering angle sensors, underscoring the significance of correctly identifying the one requiring replacement.

It’s a common requirement to disassemble the steering wheel to gain visibility and access to the steering angle sensor.

Steering Angle Sensor Replacement Cost

The typical cost for replacing a steering angle sensor falls within the range of $140 to $520, liable on factors such as labor cost and your specific vehicle model.

The steering angle sensor itself is typically priced between $115 and $260, while the labor expenses average around $25 to $260.

Upon observing the variability in replacement costs, you might naturally question the reasons behind such fluctuations. This variance can be attributed to a variety of factors. Firstly, the cost of the sensor component can be influenced by the make and model year of your vehicle.

FAQ Section

What is the function of the steering angle sensor?

The main function of the steering angle sensor is to measure and transmit the angle at which the steering wheel is steered. The vehicle’s main computer uses this information to control different functions.

Can I reset my Steering Angle Sensor?

Yes, you can reset your steering angle sensor by employing an OBD scanner with SAS capabilities. If neither the sensor nor the wiring is damaged, a reset might be sufficient.

How much does it cost to replace the steering angle sensor?

The typical price range for steering angle sensor replacement falls between $115 and $260. When factoring in labor expenses, the overall cost of replacing a steering angle sensor generally ranges from $140 to $520.

Can I drive with a bad steering angle sensor?

Driving with a malfunctioning steering angle sensor (SAS) is not recommended, as it may cause loss of control over the vehicle, particularly on slippery road conditions or at a higher speed.

What are the steering angle sensor fault codes?

The common error codes related to steering angle sensors include C0077, C0078, C0079, C1288, C1290, C1291, and C1A44.

What happens if the steering angle sensor goes bad?

When the steering angle sensor goes bad, it produces different problems, such as

Does the steering angle sensor affect abs?

Yes, a bad steering angle sensor (SAS) may impact the performance of the ABS system. The ABS uses the steering angle sensor data to control different functions, especially during situations where stability and braking performance are crucial.

Can a bad steering angle sensor cause power steering problems?

Certainly, a malfunctioning steering angle sensor can lead to power steering issues. The brake control and power steering modules rely on information from the steering angle sensor. When the engine control module (ECM) identifies a problem, it will activate alerts like stability control and electronic power steering indicators.

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