Electronic power assisted steering, sometimes referred to as EPAS, have become an integral part of many newer vehicles. These systems have replaced a lot of the mechanical parts of previous steering assist systems that included pulleys, pumps and fluids. In its place is a tiny computer and a great deal of code. These systems are lighter than the hydraulic ones they replace and they have variable power to help the driver better at lower speeds. They can also be helpful when a vehicle drifts or pulls to one side.
However, these systems are complex, and problems with them can be difficult to diagnose and repair. Ford in particular has come under fire for their EPAS systems. Some consumers have even alleged vehicle defects with the power steering system. Specifically, some have asserted that a defect renders the system prone to sudden and premature failure during ordinary and foreseeable driving situations. This means the driver must suddenly increase their steering effort, which can result in a loss of control. Also problematic is that when the EPAS fails, there is no warning to alert the driver – no chime, no ding, no dash lights, nothing.
This is what was alleged in the recent case of Jackson v. Ford Motor Co., recently weighed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Plaintiff, who was a passenger in the vehicle her husband was driving, said the couple was traveling on U.S. Highway 70 in Tennessee when “suddenly and without warning,” the vehicle darted left across the center line and into oncoming traffic. The vehicle was then struck head-on by another car. As a result of the car accident, plaintiff’s husband died. Plaintiff herself suffered life-threatening injuries, which she ultimately survived by left her permanently disabled. Continue reading →