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Steering Assist S.O.S: Drive with Care or Face Consequences!

  • Car Care Tips
  • Xavier Sabastian
  • 10 minutes

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Have you ever encountered the dreaded “Steering Assist is Reduced, Drive with Care” message in your car? Please don’t panic; we’re here to steer you in the right direction (pun intended). Find out what this means and how to fix it by reading on.

With the technology in cars today, driving is safer than ever before. The Steering Assist program is something that can be found in newer cars. But this method only sometimes works. When the “Steering Assist is Reduced, Drive with Care” light comes on, you must move quickly to avoid danger. 

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This guide will explain what the Steering Assist system is and what the warning means. We will also talk about some of the most common reasons, how to fix them, and the price you might have to pay. Finally, you will find answers to some of the most important questions about this system and its mistakes. 

What is Steering Assist? How does it work?

Steering Assist works with today’s cars that have power steering. It is considered one of the most advanced safety devices cars have today. Some cars come with the program built in, while others offer it as part of a safety plan that can be added on. 

When you turn on the Steering Assist system, an electric motor takes power from the electrical system to help you steer when you need it. Several sensors measure the force or power the driver puts on the wheel. If more is needed, the Steering Assist system gives you more help. 

The Steering Assist program only does some things. You won’t be able to nap while technology drives the car for you. It still needs the driver to do something. Also, the driver can turn off the device in most cars when unnecessary. 

The “Steering Assist is Reduced Drive with Care” message usually appears because the battery voltage is low and the steering assist control module has a trouble code saved. It could also be caused by a broken thermostat or a broken control box for the power steering.

Why does “Steering Assist is Reduced, Drive with Care” appear?

Prepare yourself for an exciting list of potential culprits causing the “Steering Assist is Reduced, Drive with Care” warning to pop up. From low battery voltage to a rogue thermostat, we’ve got a lineup of troublemakers that will make your head spin faster than a runaway tire.

The "Steering Assist is Reduced Drive with Care" message usually appears because the battery voltage is low and the steering assist control module has a trouble code saved. It could also be caused by a broken thermostat or a broken control box for the power steering.

Low battery voltage or a Bad Car Battery

The Car Battery Voltage Steering Assist won’t work if the electricity goes out. These high-tech tools get their power from many different sources. First of all, the battery has to give the car its power. Many of today’s safety systems can go wrong if the battery has been removed or is dying.

You can also have the same problems if a link or wire is loose or corroded. The warning “Steering Assist Is Reduced. Drive With Care” usually appears because the battery voltage dropped too low.

Old Trouble Code: Car Trouble Codes Are Saved

If the car’s voltage goes too low or there is an electrical problem, a trouble code will be stored in the steering assist control module. Whenever this control module stores a trouble code, the message “Steering Assist is Reduced, Drive Care” will appear.

A temporary low voltage or another electricity problem could be fixed by clearing the trouble codes in this control module.

Thermostat is Stuck 

If you see the words “Steering Assist Is Reduced” and the code P0128 on your scanner, the problem could be with the cooling system. A technical service bulletin about this problem exists if you own a GMC, Cadillac, or Chevrolet car.

The engine thermostat controls how much water flows through the engine and radiator. It ensures that the engine’s temperature is always within the normal range for running.

If the thermostat gets stuck open, fluid will keep moving through without being stopped. The engine will run too cool because of this. The Steering Assist system won’t work right if the temps aren’t right. This will cause the warning light and an error code to be stored. 

Broken Temperature Sensor

When discussing the engine’s temperature, you should also check the monitor. The temperature gauge tells you if the engine is hot or cold. If the gauge reads high, the engine is hot; if it reads low, it is cold.

The Steering Assist will not work because the ECM isn’t getting the right information. 

Damaged Steering-Assist Module

Depending on the model of your car, there may be a steering assistant or power steering module that gets information from the car and takes care of the steering assist function for you.

Sometimes, the module or sensors must be fixed and replaced. Sometimes it could be because the Steering Assist Module needs to be updated or isn’t working right. But this problem often leads to other problems as well. 

How to Fix the ‘Steering Assist is Reduced Drive with Care’ Issue

DIY enthusiasts fear not! We’ll share some tips and tricks for replacing broken parts, but feel free to consult a mechanic if things get too bizarre.

When you see the “Steering Assist is Reduced Drive with Care” sign, ensure the battery is in good shape and fully charged. Then it would be best to use an OBD2 reader to read the trouble codes from the power steering assist control module.

Check the Battery First

When you see the “Steering Assist Is Reduced” sign, you first need to check the health of your car’s battery. You can use a battery tester or a voltmeter to measure the voltage. Also, ensure that the alternator charges the battery when the engine is going.

If there is something wrong with the battery or if it is five years old or older, consider replacing it to avoid problems like this in the future. Also, make sure the battery connections don’t have any rust on them.

Read and Get Rid of Error Codes

When the Steering Assist message comes up, the computer would be programmed with numbers. You can read the DTCs with your high-end code reader, which will help you determine what’s wrong. But not all code readers work with these high-tech systems, so you must be sure you have a good one.

If there are a lot of error codes, it’s best to reset the numbers. You might have to drive the car for a short while before the sign comes back on. Most of the time, the Steering Assist Is Reduced message can be fixed by changing the car’s battery and clearing the trouble codes.

Replace Broken Parts

Now that you know what to do next, you have the code and all the details you need. You can do the job in your garage depending on what needs fixing. 

Even if you don’t know much, changing the battery should be easy. You can change the thermostat, cooling fan, or temperature sensor with the right tools and know-how. 

Talk to a Mechanic

If you can’t figure out what’s wrong with your car, you should take it to a repair shop. Modern tools in many shops make figuring out what’s happening easy. 

Also, if you can’t fix it yourself, you might need help from an expert shop. For instance, you should refrain from trying to replace or update an ECM at home. The store has to help with this kind of work most of the time. 

What cars have a Steering Assist feature?

The warning sign, ‘Steering Assist is Reduced, Drive with Care,’ is a common issue for cars like Cadillac, Ford, GMC, Toyota, and certain Chevrolet models like Malibu, Traverse, Cruze, etc.

Cost of Fixing ‘Steering Assist is Reduced Drive with Care’

Oh, and did we mention the cost of this misadventure? We have some ballpark figures that will make you appreciate the price of a good laugh. We’ll break down the expenses in fixing the “Steering Assist is Reduced, Drive with Care” issue, giving you a glimpse into the world of automotive financial acrobatics.

There is no work cost for replacing a battery on the electrical side. You can do it yourself, or a nearby auto parts store will do it for free if you buy the battery from them. You only have to pay for the new battery, which could cost anywhere from $75 to $350. This process could take a lot longer if you need to find and fix a problem with the electricity system.

Parts and work for replacing a damaged ECM will cost about $1000. Replacing a stuck thermostat will cost about $300.

Most thermostats and coolant temperature sensors cost between $150 and $350 to repair. Since the part is cheap, most of this cost is for the work. A sensible rule would be to change it every four years or every 50,000 miles, whichever comes first. Most places only charge $120 for this.

A fan motor relay will cost about $100 to replace, and a broken temperature gauge will cost an extra $50 to fix.

In addition, diagnosing the control system can take a few hours of work. It can be challenging to fix. Still, this isn’t the problem, so you won’t have to deal with it. 

All costs are figures based on the idea that a mechanic will do the work. If you do the work yourself, you’ll save a lot of money.

The Steering Assist Reduced problem is caused by a bad signal from the ECM about the coolant temperature.


It’s important to remember that the warning message might mean something other than there’s a big problem. It could be an electrical problem. To make sure this doesn’t happen. The best thing to do is to check for problems in the engine. 

You should be able to determine what’s wrong with the car by running tests. If the diagnostic mistakes don’t go away independently, you must take your car to a mechanic.

If the problem is small, you could repeatedly turn the car off and on to clear the code. When you start the car, all electrical parts get a signal and go into reset mode. 


What does steering assist reduced mean?

The Steering Assist Reduced problem is caused by a bad signal from the ECM about the coolant temperature. The steering module looks for the correct water temperature so it can make up for cold grease that is thick. When grease gets cold, it thickens up and becomes harder to move. This can make the turning feel heavier than it should.

Can you still drive with a power steering assist fault?

Cars with a pump for power steering should only be driven when the power steering works. If the power steering stops working, you should wait to drive the car until you repair the pump.

Why does steering assist come on?

The “Steering Assist is Reduced Drive with Care” message usually appears because the battery voltage is low and the steering assist control module has a trouble code saved. It could also be caused by a broken thermostat or a broken control box for the power steering.

What is power steering assist failure?

Most of the time, loss of power assist or low help is caused by low power steering fluid level, low power steering fluid pressure, or steering or suspension parts that aren’t moving freely. It’s easy to figure out which trouble is there.

What is the steering assist symbol?

It will show up when the driver’s hands are not on the wheel. The steering help is then turned off. It looks like a grayscale or red-turning wheel with two red hands.

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