How to Fix Power Steering Assist Fault on Ford Fusion

Dealing with a power steering problem in your Ford Fusion can be frustrating. Suddenly, your steering feels heavy and hard to turn. You may even get a warning message on your dashboard about a “power steering assist fault”. Don’t worry – this is a common problem with the Ford Fusion, and it can be fixed. With some basic mechanical skills and the right troubleshooting steps, you can get your power steering working properly again.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk through the major causes of the power steering assist fault and the best ways to resolve them yourself.

Key Takeaways:

  • Check for an active recall – Ford issued recalls for this issue on some models
  • Inspect power steering fluid level and condition
  • Verify electrical connections to power steering system are tight
  • Test battery and charging system voltage
  • Attempt to reset fault code by power cycling ignition
  • Evaluate steering angle sensor – replace if faulty
  • Check power steering pump for leaks/damage – replace if needed
  • Inspect for contaminated fuel – drain/replace if contaminated

What is the Power Steering Assist Fault?

The power steering system uses a hydraulic pump driven by the engine to provide extra steering assistance. This makes it much easier to turn the wheels. If there is a problem with the system, the power assist stops working properly. Now you have to put more muscle into steering, and it feels stiff and heavy.

In addition to the increased effort, you may get a warning message on the dashboard saying “power steering assist fault”. This indicates there is some kind of electrical issue between components in the system. Fault codes are stored by the computer that monitors things like the power steering control module.

Without properly functioning power steering, the Ford Fusion is tedious and difficult to drive, especially at low speeds where more steering effort is required. It’s vital to fix it promptly before you lose control of the vehicle.

Step 1: Check for a Recall

Before you start troubleshooting anything, check and see if there is an active recall from Ford for the power steering problem. Certain Ford Fusion model years have been recalled due to defects in the power steering system.

You can quickly search online databases using your Fusion’s VIN number to see if any recalls apply. There are also National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) sites you can use. If you find an active recall, contact your Ford dealer right away to schedule the free repair.

For example, in 2014 Ford recalled over 500,000 Ford Fusion models in North America. The specific problem was a poor electrical connection to the power steering control module that could fail and disable power assist.

Getting the recall repair done will likely fix your power steering assist fault for free. If no recall applies, then you’ll need to diagnose and repair the problem yourself.

Step 2: Check the Power Steering Fluid

One of the easiest things to check that can cause a Ford Fusion’s power steering to stop working right is the fluid level. Low or dirty power steering fluid can allow air pockets to form in the system, leading to the faults and failure of the power assist.

Pop the hood and locate the power steering fluid reservoir. It will be a plastic translucent tank with “Power Steering Fluid” markings on the side. The reservoir has a minimum and maximum fill range indicated on it.

With the engine off and cold, check that the fluid level is within the min and max lines. If it is low, add more power steering fluid to bring it up to the proper level. Use only the manufacturer recommended power steering fluid for your Fusion.

While you have the reservoir cap off, also check the condition of the fluid. Healthy power steering fluid is transparent with a light amber color. If it is very dark, contaminated with debris, or smells burnt, you’ll need to flush and replace all of the fluid.

Drive the Fusion for a few miles and recheck the fluid level. If it is low again, you likely have a fluid leak in the power steering system allowing fluid to escape. Inspect the pump, gearbox, hoses, and seals closely to spot the leak, then repair or replace any faulty components.

Replenishing the power steering fluid may be all that’s needed to fix your assist fault. If not, continue on with further troubleshooting.

Step 3: Verify Electrical Connections

Since the “power steering assist fault” message itself indicates an electrical issue, the next thing to check is all the wiring and connections running to and from the power steering components.

Turn the ignition fully off so there is no power going to any systems. Then, one-by-one, physically inspect each electrical connector you can find related to the power steering. These include:

  • Power steering control module
  • Power steering assist motor
  • Steering angle sensor
  • Torque sensor
  • Vehicle speed sensor

Check that the connectors are fully inserted. Remove and reseat them to scrape away any dirt or corrosion on the pins and terminals. This ensures a clean connection with no high resistance that could cause faults.

Then inspect the wires and harnesses leading to and from the connectors. Check for any chafed, melted, or broken insulation that may be shorting out the circuits. Make repairs with electrical tape as needed.

If you find any damaged connectors or terminals that are loose or wont fully engage, they will need to be replaced. This may require some soldering and wire splicing skills to repair properly.

Getting the power steering electrical systems tightened up and repaired can clear up intermittent faults that disable power steering assist.

Step 4: Test the Battery and Charging System

Electrical components like the power steering system require steady voltage from the battery to operate consistently. A weak battery that is not fully charged can cause all kinds of unusual errors and faults.

Use a multimeter to test the resting voltage of your Ford Fusion’s battery. It should be around 12.6 volts minimum if fully charged. If it is below 12 volts, the battery does not have enough power in it.

Recharge the battery completely and test it again. If it still measures low, replace it with a new battery. Be sure to get one with at least the same CCA rating as your old battery or better.

Even with a good battery, issues with the alternator and charging system can still lead to low electrical voltage. Have the alternator, belts, and connections inspected at your local auto parts chain if you recently replaced the battery but power steering problems persist.

Step 5: Attempt to Reset Fault Code

Sometimes simply resetting the fault code that turns on the “power steering assist fault” message is all it takes to get things working normally again. The code may have been set erroneously and clearing it allows the system to restart fresh.

Here is a way to potentially clear the fault code:

  1. Turn the ignition fully OFF and remove the key for 15 minutes. This allows the power steering system capacitors to fully discharge.
  2. Insert the key and turn it to the ON position ONLY. Don’t start the engine.
  3. Wait another 10-15 minutes to allow the electronics to initialize. The power steering module will run diagnostics.
  4. Turn the ignition fully OFF again and wait 5 minutes more.
  5. Start the engine now and let it idle for 3 minutes. This signals the end of the diagnostics.

The power cycling procedure forces the car’s computer to do a cold boot and may clear any erroneous fault codes. Test drive the Fusion and see if the power steering warning appears again or if normal assist function returns. You may need to repeat the reset procedure 2-3 times for it to work.

Step 6: Evaluate the Steering Angle Sensor

The steering angle sensor is one of the key electronic inputs used by the Ford Fusion’s power steering assist system. It tells the computer the position of the wheels as you turn. If this sensor is damaged or sending bad data, it can definitely cause power steering faults.

First, locate the steering angle sensor. It is typically mounted on the steering column right behind the steering wheel. The sensor has a wire connector plugged into it.

Check that the sensor connector is fully locked in place. Remove it and check for any dirt, corrosion, or damage to the terminal pins. Spray with electrical contact cleaner if necessary and plug it back in securely.

Next, inspect the sensor itself for any cracks or physical damage. Also check that it can rotate freely as you turn the steering wheel back and forth. There should be no binding or uneven slack in its motion.

If the sensor is damaged or defective, you will need to replace it. If it checks out ok, then the problem likely lies elsewhere.

Step 7: Inspect the Power Steering Pump

The hydraulic power steering pump is the heart of the system. It uses pressurized fluid to provide steering boost. A malfunctioning power steering pump can certainly cause an assist fault and sudden loss of power assist.

Start by checking the exterior of the pump for signs of leaks. Wipe any grime away from the pump and hoses and look closely for wetness from leaked fluid. Catch drips on a white paper towel to make leaks more visible.

If you find a pump seal or hose leak, try tightening the fittings. If fluid still escapes, replace any pieces that are cracked or extremely worn.

Next, check that the pump pulley turns smoothly when spinning the engine by hand and listen for unusual grinding, squealing, or rattling noises from the pump. Any of these symptoms typically means the pump needs to be replaced.

Finally, make sure all electrical connections at the pump are secure and free of corrosion. A poor connection can disable the electric control of the pump.

Step 8: Flush Contaminated Fuel System

Here is an unusual tip – bad fuel can actually lead to problems like the power steering assist fault in Ford Fusions. If moisture or debris has contaminated your fuel, it does not burn properly. This creates engine performance issues and low system voltages.

How do you know if your fuel is contaminated? Warning signs include:

  • Power loss and surging at high speeds
  • Rough idle and stalling
  • Rust inside the gas cap

Start by draining as much fuel as you can from the tank. Then, disconnect the fuel line before and after the filter. Blow it out with compressed air to dislodge any built-up sediment.

Replace the fuel filter with a new one. Add fresh, clean gas to the tank and treat it with a fuel system cleaner like Techron or Seafoam. Drive consistently for a week. This will allow the cleaners to dissolve gunk and flush the whole fuel system.

The improved combustion can raise electrical voltage levels enough to resolve electronics glitches that were setting power steering fault codes.

Step 9: Let a Mechanic Diagnose Further Issues

If you have carefully gone through all the previous troubleshooting steps and the Ford Fusion’s power steering is still not working right, there may be an underlying problem you can’t readily identify as a DIYer.

It’s best now to have a professional technician diagnose what is wrong with your power steering system. At the shop they have specialized tools to further test components and spot issues.

Here are some examples of problems a mechanic can identify:

  • Damaged power steering rack causing fluid leaks
  • Broken pump shaft or damaged internal pump parts
  • Blocked hydro boost brakes reducing power steering pressure
  • Bad torque sensor giving inaccurate readings
  • Internal steering column damage

Don’t keep driving the Fusion if the steering feels unsafe. Have it towed to the shop. The right mechanic can pinpoint any hidden issues and get your power steering functioning again.

Preventative Maintenance is Key

To maximize the longevity of your Ford Fusion’s power steering system and minimize issues, be diligent about regular preventative maintenance:

  • Check power steering fluid – Inspect fluid level and condition monthly. Top off if low. Change fluid every 30,000 miles.
  • Change the steering fluid filter – A small filter screens debris from the fluid. Replace it every 60,000 miles.
  • Check serpentine belt condition – The belt drives the power steering pump. Replace if cracked or very worn.
  • Inspect steering gear boots – Look for signs of leaks at the seals. Repair any leaks promptly.
  • Flush power steering fluid – Drain and flush the old fluid completely every 60,000 miles. Refill with fresh fluid.
  • Get alignments – Keep wheels properly aligned to reduce steering component wear.

By staying on top of items like this, you can go miles without issue and avoid annoying power steering faults in your Ford Fusion.


A “power steering assist fault” on a Ford Fusion is a common problem that makes the vehicle harder to steer. But with some DIY troubleshooting, you can likely resolve it yourself and restore normal power steering function.

Start by checking for a recall, inspecting fluid levels, and ensuring electrical connections are solid. Try resetting the fault code and test components like the steering angle sensor and power steering pump. Flushing contaminated fuel can also help.

For tricky issues, rely on a professional mechanic to properly diagnose and repair the problem. Sticking to scheduled maintenance on your Fusion’s steering system is the best way to prevent power steering faults in the first place.

With the right skills and knowledge, you can confidently get the power steering in your Ford Fusion back up and running smoothly. Your forearms will thank you next time you go to parallel park.

Similar Posts