What’s In A Steering Column: Haptic Feedback

As vehicles are becoming more advanced, we are finding technology where it never was before. Sometimes it is in plain sight, such as infotainment systems, GPS, and a head-up display. However, sometimes it is concealed in places one may not expect.

Steering columns have gone from a basic shaft used to transfer movement from the steering wheel to the front wheels, to a highly complex part of the vehicle. Today’s steering columns have steering angle sensors, airbags, clock springs, heated steering wheels, and controls for multiple systems. Let’s take a look at haptic feedback steering wheels.

Haptic feedback is a vibration within the steering wheel that provides a tactile alert to the driver. This feature can be used as an alternative to visual and auditory alerts or in conjunction with them. Haptic feedback is often used as part of the lane departure warning/lane keep assist (LDW/LKA) systems. The steering wheel will vibrate if the vehicle senses it is veering out of the lane.

These systems typically use one or more haptic feedback motors and a control module. These in turn, interact with the LDW/LKA systems to activate these motors. The control module may detect problems with the system and possibly set DTCs if a problem is detected. If the LDW/LKA system is turned off or disabled, then the haptic feedback function will not operate. This needs to be taken into account when testing LDW/LKA for functionality after repairs.

Due to the complexity of the system, the functions are computer controlled. This means diagnostics and repairs are more in depth. However, this also means that DTCs may be set if there are any malfunctions. A scan tool may be required to pull these trouble codes and diagnose any issues.

It is important to know if a vehicle is equipped with these features, what parts are used in the system, and where they are located. This will enable you to check for proper operation to ensure a complete, safe, and quality repair.

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