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:
- What is “Steering assist”
- How to reset it?
- How to identify the cause of the error message
- The cost associated with fixing an issue
What Is Steering Assist?
This system helps the driver control the vehicle when in bad road conditions. This is done by electric motor that helps to turn the tires that could draw more or less power when needed.
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
Causes of Steering Assist is Reduced Drive With Care Message
The most common cause of “Steering assist is reduced warning” is a bad temperature sensor, bad thermostat or just freshly replaced battery.
- Bad or replaced battery
In most cases the steering assist is reduced error message can pop up because of a bad battery. A dead battery in your car can cause a whole lot of electrical problems, especially lost communication with the engine control module (ECM). A good battery will show a charge at around 12.6v on multimeter and not lower than 8-10v while starting a vehicle.
If you replaced old battery with a new one, this error code may appear as well.
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- 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. 
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.
- Open or bad 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. 
- Faulty temperature sensor
The temperature sensor 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.
- 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. 
- 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.
- 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 warning message to appear.
- Power Steering Control Module Needs an Update
If some cases you will need to update the software.
- 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.
How to Reset Steering Assist Is Reduced Drive with Care
- Try to start your vehicle again
Turning your car off and putting it in after some time should do the trick. Usually this is not a permanent fix.
It works sometimes, because restarting your car will force all your car’s electrical parts to shut down and come on again.
But if none of them works, you might have to do the following.
- Scan the onboard computer
Every vehicle manufactured after 1996 has obd2 port located up and underneath the dashboard on driver’s side of the vehicle. All you need to do is to connect your device and just read any possible error codes. If you don’t have obd2 device, you may find some free ob2 scans at stores like O Reilly or Autozone, but you need to call them first.
Trouble codes that may appear
- Code P0128: “Engine coolant temperature is below the thermostat regulating temperature” – this usually means that you have bad temperature sensor or bad thermostat.
- Code U0100: “Lost Communication with ECM/PCM” – this is usually related to your battery replacement.
If you notice the signal after attempting to resolve any error codes, then it is time to check and test each part we discussed before.
Tests for car parts responsible for the error message
- Check if your battery terminals are in place
- Check if battery is connected in the right way
- Try to clear the error code U0100
- 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.
- Try to clean error code P0128
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.
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|
|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.