Steering Assist Is Reduced Drive with Care

Are you familiar with “Steering Assist is Reduced Drive with Care” message?

This warning message is very common in the Cadillac, GMC, and some Chevy models like the Malibu, Traverse, Cruze, etc., and it can be caused by several factors. 

We are going to cover:

  1. What is “Steering assist”
  2. How to reset it?
  3. How to identify the cause of the error message
  4. The cost associated with fixing an issue

What Is Steering Assist?


Cars that have power steering systems usually have steering assists. A car power steering system is made up of two main parts. They include:

  • Power steering assist system. 
  • The hydraulic power steering system 

Before the creation of a power steering system, maneuvering a car’s steering was very difficult and required lots of strength to turn the steering.

This was highly inefficient and a problem that the power steering system came to solve.

How does it solve that problem?

Quite simply, it does it in two steps. 

The first step 

The power steering system has two parts, remember that? The second part we mentioned, i.e., the hydraulic power steering system, has a hydraulic pump pressuring the hydraulic fluid

The second step

The pressurized hydraulic fluid makes the car’s steering easy to turn smoothly and more efficiently. For the hydraulic part to achieve this, the pressurized hydraulic fluid increases the pressure from the steering movement and sends it to the car’s tires.[1

Causes of Steering Assist is Reduced Error Message 


As we already stated, the most common cause of “Steering assist is reduced warning” is a failure of the engine control module. This does not mean that is the only cause of the message. 

The most common is when the Engine Control Module fails to do its work or when it provides wrong temperature readings of the engine coolant. There are others, and we would be looking at them one after the other.

  1. Dead Or Reconnected Battery

In most cases the steering assist is reduced error message can pop up because of a dead battery or an unplugged one. A dead battery in your car can cause a whole lot of electrical problems, especially lost communication with the engine control module. 

  1. Faulty Engine Control Module

The “Steering assist” is connected to the Engine Control Module, ECM, of your car, which functions as the brainbox for all your car’s electrical functions. This module also monitors and checks the level and temperature of your engine coolant.

It is also responsible for adjusting these two factors and detecting any issues. This is a very important function in cars because any issues with the coolant can lead to many issues in the vehicle, the most obvious being the engine’s temperature fluctuation. 

When the temperature of the coolant drops, the fluid in the steering becomes very hard and makes it very difficult to use the steering wheel, a condition that the steering assist comes in to help. The ECM notifies the steering assist by relaying the coolant temperature to it. [2]

When the information relayed by the ECM is wrong, the effectiveness of the power steering is affected as it does not have the information needed to function efficiently.

At this point, you should expect the error message, “Steering Assist is reduced”, and you have no choice but to drive carefully because the steering wheel balance has been upset. 

  1. Open Engine Thermostat

Another interesting part of your engine, when affected that can lead to a steering assist is reduced signal in the engine thermostat. The thermostat plays an important role in controlling and regulating the coolant flow rate into the engine radiator.

By doing this, the thermostat helps maintain the engine temperature and stability.  

There are scenarios when the thermostat is open and can’t close back, causing coolant to flow through and dropping the temperature to an unnecessarily low level.

This can cause the steering assist is reduced signal to pop up as the steering assist is most definitely affected by this. [3]

  1. Engine Cooling Fan At Constant High Speed

This is another reason for the steering assist is reduced error message, but also a direct consequence of a very cold engine

When your car’s engine cooling fan is at a constant high speed, it makes the engine cold, sometimes very cold. When the engine gets that cold, it makes the ECM grease a lot stiffer and triggers the steering assist, which in this case can function because of the engine’s temperature drop. 

This then leads to the “Steering Assist is Reduced” error message. 

  1. Faulty Temperature Gauge

The temperature gauge is responsible for monitoring your car’s engine temperature. When the gauge drops, the car engine is cold.

But if your car’s engine has been on for quite some time, and the gauge still shows the car’s engine is cold, then it is faulty and needs to be fixed.

This is not good for your power steering assist as it won’t be able to know when the car is cold. Hence the error message, steering assist is reduced, pops up. 

  1. Faulty Stering Angle Sensor

A faulty steering angle sensor can cause problems with a vehicle’s stability and steering systems, including off-center steering, traction and stability control issues, warning lights, and drift or pull.

If you suspect a faulty sensor, it’s important to have it checked and repaired by a qualified mechanic to prevent safety risks. [4]

  1. Low power steering fluid

If the power steering fluid level is low, it can cause the power steering system to malfunction and trigger the warning message.

  1. Faulty power steering pump

The power steering pump is responsible for pressurizing the power steering fluid and providing hydraulic power to the steering system. A malfunctioning power steering pump can cause the message to appear.

How to Reset Steering Assist Is Reduced Drive with Care Error



One of the easiest ways of resetting steering assist is reduced error message is to restart the vehicle. Turning your car off and putting it in after some time should do the trick.

It works because restarting your car will force all your car’s electrical parts to shut down and come on again. 

If you try it the first time and it doesn’t work, then the second or the third trial will do the magic. But if none of them works, you might have to do the following. 

How to Know the Cause of the Problem 

Now you have seen the possible cause for the steering assist is reduced error message, how do you then know the actual culprit in the event of one?

We will talk about that now, and you will also see the different tests that can help. 

If you have an error message showing steering assist is reduced, attempt to reset the error message. If the message goes off, then the ECM might misread your engine coolant temperature. 

Codes related to this issues are:

  • P0128
  • U0401

However, if the error message stays, then you can attempt using a code reader or an OBD scanner or OBD2 scanner to know the error and how to proceed. 

If you notice the signal after attempting to resolve any error codes, then it is time to check and test each part we discussed. 

Tests for car parts responsible for the error message

ECM test

  • This is for the Engine Control Module. 
  • Hook ECM to the OBD scanner and run a test. 
  • The test result would show whether the ECM is in good shape. 
  • If the ECM is broken, repair or replace it. 
  • If the problem is not from the ECM, a slim or sometimes fat chance, test the car’s thermostat. 

Thermostat test

  • This procedure helps to check if the engine thermostat is opened. 
  • Start your car engine and allow it to idle for some minutes.
  • Touch the radiator hose and check its temperature.
  • If it is cool, then the thermostat is open. 
  • In this case, replacing the thermostat is the best option. The sooner, the better, as it may lead to more serious problems in your car. 
  • If nothing is wrong with your thermostat, it is time to check the engine’s cooling fan. 

Cooling fan test

  • This test helps to check if your engine cooling fan is at a constant high speed. 
  • To test the cooling fan, you will have to test the fan relay of the car’s engine. 
  • This is done by disconnecting the car’s battery, locating the fan relay of the engine, and taking it away from the fuse box. 
  • Apply power to the fan relay terminals and see if it comes on. 
  • If it does not come on, the fan relay is bad and should be replaced. 
  • If it comes on, at this point, the ball is out of your court, and you will need the services of a professional car mechanic to know what’s wrong with the car. 

Read Also: The Steering Wheel is Not Locked But the Key Won’t Turn

Cost for fixing steering assist issues 

The amount required to fix a steering assist issue would depend on the probable cause of the problem. For instance, if you try to reset it by turning your car off and putting it back on after some time, you solve the issue without cost. 

But if it didn’t happen that way, then the table below shows how much it might cost you to fix any of the issues that might lead to a steering assist is reduced error message. 

Probable cause of error message  Cost to fix or replace
Engine Control Module $1,000
Thermostat $300
Temperature gauge  $150
Engine cooling fan $100
The table showing the cost of fixing or replacing car parts responsible for steering assist is a reduced error message.

All these costs are rough estimates and may include the fees for the mechanic in charge. But if you do them yourself, you are sure to save up some money. Also, these prices may differ depending on the location and car model or trim. 

Read Also:Hill Assist Not Available Drive With Care


Mind you, a steering assist is reduced signal might not be a serious cause for concern. Still, it doesn’t hurt to run a diagnostic test on your car to identify the problem. No matter how small. 

If you try restarting your car, and it doesn’t go off. If any of the other methods do not help, invite a professional car mechanic to come to check the car. 

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