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Increase efficiency by disabling electric assist in steering

20521 Views 82 Replies 31 Participants Last post by  IamIan
This is for the traditionalists and the hard-core milleage freaks.
By removing the fuse of the electric assist power steering you will conserve battery power that would otherwise be used every time you turn the wheel. It also gives you better feel of what is going on between the road and the tires at higher speeds.

This is a very simple, quick and easy mod you can do in 20 seconds just before you drive to work tomorrow to feel it for yourself.

Open the hood.
Look for 40A power steering fuse as shown on fuse box decal.
Remove the 40A power steering fuse and store in your cup holder.
Drive the car and feel the real effort it takes to drive without power steering. :shock:

It's not that bad really, it feels firm during normal driving.
I first tried it an auto-x and it felt like I was wrestling a bear when turning fast at low speeds. But at higher speeds I had a better feel what the tires where doing. On the highway I drove home and it feel firm but nice.
I'll try it on and off a few times and decide what I prefer after a few days.

Tell me what you think after you try it.
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Wayne, I'm sure that you would see a difference. After all at 40 amps this is one of the biggest fuses in the car. (40A X 13.6V = 544 watts) OK, I know it doesn't draw that continuously but evenn 100 Watts would make a difference to lean burn.
I tried removing the fuse today. I forgot about it untill after I got back. No big deal if you are used to driving a CRX. The steering does feel heavier. Remember you are now spinning a dead stick stepper motor as well as steering the car*. The car might actually track straighter without the electric steering because you now have a smooth relationship between the force on the wheel and the direction of the car. The electric steering turns in distinct steps. This requires constant small corective movements of the steering. I don't even notice it anymore but some may have incorrectly blamed it on the tires.

I would probably hook up a relay to disable the power steering whenever the car was in 5th gear (and perhaps 4th). Primitive but the assumption being that one would not drive below 15 MPH in 5th and that one would always select 5th for highway cruising. This way the cars electric steering would not pop on and off unexpectedly.

* This might not be a bad thing as some motor bikes and some 4WD vehicles come with steering dampers.
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A tiny Neodymium magnet on the shift lever, one or two manetic reed switches and a relay should acomplish the mod. If it fails, what is the worst case scenario? would have full time power steering just like we do now. :D
I finished the mod. After my initial attempt to use a manet and reed switches, I settled on using two micro switches and a relay. I used a separate housing for a relay and fuse in the engine compartment as I did not want to clutter up the fuse box. The micro switches have extended arms that move when the transmission is placed into 4th or 5th gear.
Dazey, I should have some photos posted soon. There is no jump or surge but there is about a 1 second delay when returning to power steering. I have not been driving the Insight as I'm still doing mods on it. The second last mod is a vent fan for the hatch back area. The last mod is an auxiliary input on the OEM radio. I tap into the tape head preamp. Man does it ever sound great. I've taken lots of pics. :D
You are right Willie. The current drain is small. I measure very little current unless you are driving like Guillermo. :D I have to verify my meter readings before I can give you numbers.
Yesterday my Insight went back on the road with the power steering mod. I put on 120 miles of rural highway and city traffic. The power steering switched on and off without drawing attention to itself. The car felt more solid on the highway. It still has a tendancy to wander in heavy cross winds, but it didn't feel as though I was constantly making minute corrections. It felt more linear , more "normal". For some folk it might make the difference between sticking with LRR tires or looking for a stickier replacement tire. Understand that I would have stuck with the Potenzas anyway, you get used to them, but I prefer it with the mod.

If I was doing it again I would only use one micro switch for 5th gear to simplify things. In fact if you could find a high current double throw micro swich you wouldn't need the relay. :D
I had a circuit installed on my car to automatically disable the power steering when I was in 4th or 5th gear. I took it off. Mesurements of the current drain indicated that it would not save a measurable amount of gas. To my mind it did improve the feeling of the car at highway speed, but now that I have rmoved it I don't notice that it is gone.

Having had a near miss with a deer and with a truck, I really apreciate having the power steering.

My suggestion is to leave the steering alone (based on my experience).
If you put an ammeter on the electric assist steering you will find it draws little power even with the car stationary and the steering vigorously thrown around, but don't take my word, try it yourself as I'd like confirmation. Hats off to Honda for a very efficient design. :D
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