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MG MGF Technical - EPAS - Help

Does anyone know of any problems with the EPAS causing steering to fail on the MGF?? My sister had the EPAS light come on her MGF whilst travelling on a highway, lost all steering & wrote off her MGF. She survived with bumps & bruises - nothing left of the MGF except for the passenger compartment.

Sounds horrendous BUT I have never heard of the an EPAS failure causing the car to crash, after all it only an assistance and without it the car is still fully under the control of the steering wheel which may become marginally heavier to turn.

Yes I have had the light come on but this has always been at slow speeds such as in a traffic jam when the system becomes confused and so goes into fail-safe mode.

Ted Newman

Sounds like the 'muther' of all crashes- glad to hear that she got out relatively unscathed Rachelle.

As for the steering, Ted is right- an electrical EPAS failure would not cause a complete failure of the steering, although if the speedo cable drive failed the steering can become transiently over-light before the EPAS fail-safe cuts in. In the case of the fail-safe, the steering simply becomes heavier.

Thankfully, another demonstration of the MGF's passenger cell's strength in the 'real world'

Rob Bell


First I am happy to hear that your sister was not seriously hurt. Could you please explain what you mean by "lost all steering"? Did the steering wheel lock or did steering become heavier or lighter after the light went on.
I have occassionally had the light come on and power assistance lost but this only happenned in very low speeds in trafic when, as Ted says above, the fail-safe thing becomes confused. Power assistance always returned next time I swithced the ignition on again.

Spyros Papageorghiou

look in the archive of this BBS (technical MGF or general MGF), I remember someone reported such a problem (but hopefully there was no crash) some time ago (max 2 years ago). It was something like the EPAS "deciding" itself to turn the wheels or to prevent the wheels from beeing turned ... a mad ECU ??

Hi Rachelle,
I think Fabrice is referring to my EPAS problems last year. Whilst driving along, without any warning, the steering would suddenly turn hard left, pulling the steering wheel out of my hands!
It turned out to be a faulty multi pin connector into the EPAS ECU, so it is not true to say it always fails safe.
If you check the archives you will find that around the same time as I was having problems another F driver fom Oz had the same problem as your sister and he too crashed his car - maybe he can shed some more light on your problem.
Jason Harris


Just like to echo what other people have also said in saynig glad to hear your sister was 'relatively' un-harmed due to this scary sounding crash.

I wonder if the EPAS light coming on was a result of another failure in the steering system that subsequently caused the accident or if, as it would initially sound, that the EPAS failed itself causing teh car to crash. If the later then this accident is very worrying. :(

Home of the F'ers Gallery, MG Dealer Guide and new MGF FAQ :)
Paul Lathwell

Thanks to all for your replies!!
Spyros - 'lost all steering' - she couldn't turn the wheel at all - not sure if it was locked, or just too heavy for her to move. It all happened as 3 lanes had to merge to 2, the light came on and the car just wouldn't turn, so went straight ahead hitting the front corner into a concrete pile-on, then bounced off other cars on the freeway.

Does anyone know how to access the archives??


Rachelle -

Sounds really frightening - glad she's OK (and lucky).

Archive is accessible once you've joined/registered (it's free). Then there'll be a link to it fromthe top of most pages.

Ed Clarke


I copied the relevant threads from the archive for you. It sure souns scary.


Jason Harris, Bristol, UK,
My 97 VVC seems to have inherited the spirit of Herbie!
Yesterday whilst stopped at a junction it insisted on rapidly turning the steering to full left lock and would not let me turn right. Whilst moving it was ok but every time the speed dropped it turned the wheel left with so much force that I couldn't stop it.
Today eveything is alright. Has anyone else had this strange steering tendency?

Posted 06 June 2000 at 16:19:27 UK time
Matt Lawrance, Lancashire, United Kingdom
Something similar, but only on one road, with bad ruts in it, so probably no, soz. on this road though, under breaking pull on the wheel can be very bad, in the ditch nearly, bad.

Jason Harris, Somerset, United Kingdom,
Hi all,
After the concern I caused last month with my "Herbie" thread about how my steering suddenly turned left all by itself a few times - I can now let you all know that the problem is solved.
After leaving the car at two different Rover dealers for three weeks and numerous letters to Rover it was diagnosed as a faulty steering column or EPAS ECU. These were replaced (I bought 2nd hand to reduce cost)but the problem remained.
The solution was a new multi block connector into the EPAS ECU - the EPAS is now better than it has ever been - it is no longer twitchy on the motorway.
I am still trying to alert Rover to potentially dangerous problem, but they are very dismissive.
Anyway, today I dismantled my spare steering column to see how it works - and found that the sensor that senses the torque required is adjustable, just two fixing bolts. This may provide a way to adjust the assistance from the EPAS, as discussed in some previous threads - maybe MS (or Dieter!) can investigate further.
ps Dieter - I will be visiting Munchen Gladbach in my F next weekend.

Posted 05 August 2000 at 23:59:10 UK time
Dieter, Dormagen,
Hi Jason,
good to see that the problem has gone.
I've got the steering EPAS and EPAS electronic module in my garage and will have a look.. and some pictures ;-)
Mgl next week... Hmm, if my MGF is back on the road (broken gear switch cable, car in Bad Hersfeld, 300km eastwards) .. lets see...
Send a mobile number, phone number in MGL or any address by email if you find an hour time for a small meet up or 'hello' beside the wedding using wedding cars sevenoaks celebration.

Posted 09 August 2000 at 20:11:57 UK time
Dieter, Bad Hersfeld, Germany,
You where right.
A sensor at the EPAS is adjustable.
A blank metal cap covers a plastic thing with two screws in long holes. Sensor can be turned about 5 degrees. the one at the wreck MGF is screwed to the steering at the centre of theat long holes.

PS. pictures later on a EPAS side

Posted 10 August 2000 at 00:06:30 UK time
Dieter, Bad Hersfeld, Germany,
..later ... is now :)

Sorry but I really got no idea on how it works and I do not like to disassemble it any more ... recently ;-)
Surely it's the position feedback for the controller.


Posted 10 August 2000 at 11:22:43 UK time
Rob Bell, North London
Great pictures there Dieter.

Still not sure how the sensor is working or how it would be adjustable (other than the relative postion to the steering rack).

Can anyone clarify this?



Posted 10 August 2000 at 21:48:22 UK time
Luc, Brussels
>>I am still trying to alert Rover to potentially dangerous problem, but they are very dismissive.<<

Seems like people *must* get injured or killed first, prior to any awareness of a car manufacturer. History teaches them nothing ? What a disgraceful attitude. Shame on Rover/Phoenix !

Keep the correspondence. The day somebody - unfortunately - will get injured or killed due to the defective steering column, a scandal will break loose if your correspondence pops up to the surface ...and the arrogant attitude recently showed towards you can cost the car-manufacturer truly a lot of money (damages), because they had earlier been informed about the dangerous trouble.

Posted 12 August 2000 at 00:21:54 UK time
Holbeck, UK,
Jason Harris and Luc wrote:
>>The solution was a new multi block connector into the EPAS ECU - the EPAS is now better than it has ever been - it is no longer twitchy on the motorway.<<

>>I am still trying to alert Rover to potentially dangerous problem, but they are very dismissive.<<

>Seems like people *must* get injured or killed first, prior to any awareness of a car manufacturer. History teaches them nothing ? What a disgraceful attitude. Shame on Rover/Phoenix !<

What problem?...

By your own admission (Jason) the problem wasw solved by "new multi block connector into the EPAS ECU"

As far as I can see, your problem was that the multi-plug was not latched properly.

Luc, Do you know of any accident cause by EPAS failure?

Personally I don't think there have been any, otherwise (in the UK) our wonderful tabloid press woulf be campaigning for the rights of the motorist and demanding Rover withdraw this unsafe car.

So far the silence has been defening.

Best regards

H. Holbeck

Posted 17 August 2000 at 08:58:36 UK time
Jason Harris, Bristol,
Just returned from a run across Europe in the F - I had a great time!
Holbeck - the problem was not a badly latched connector - the fault was inside the connector - the actual pins were loose and touching each other - the only solution was to fit a whole new connector (which Rover do not sell seperately!).
Dieter - sorry I didn't get in touch things got very hectic at the wedding - anyway - I have stripped my spare column down further than yours - the sensor is basically a rotating arm which reads the position of a sliding plastic sleeve around the column - as the column is turned and torque applied, the sliding plastic sleeve slides up and down the coulmn, and turns the sensor. - Therefore if the sensor were to be rotated a few degrees (there seems to be enough adjustment in the screw holes) then the amount of assistance provided by the motor should be varied. I am not brave enough to strip my car down agian though - it has taken me months to get it working!

Posted 06 June 2000 at 17:33:13 UK time
Kes, Kidderminster

Am I reading this right, your steering turned to max left lock at low speeds, and you couldn't stop it? Good God! I've never heard of this before and it seems like one of the most dangerous things that could happen, luckily (so far) at low speed. How did you manage to drive off from the junction at full l/h lock, and how did you drive it down the road if the steering kept turning sharp left at slow speed?

I'd take the PAS fuse out before driving another inch, and get the car into the dealers asap, before something very messy happens.

Regards, Kes.

Posted 06 June 2000 at 18:03:13 UK time
Daniel Ginger, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom,
The only EPAS issue I have ever heard when stationary was when you hold the car on a hill by using the clutch and high revs. This causes the steering to become very heavy as the MEMs turns the EPAS off for safety reasons.

Removing the fuse is one idea. Another if it happens again when stationary is to turn the car off and on again at the ignition. This (should) reset the EPAS back to normal (if I remember correctly). Can someone confirm this?

Am I imagining things or did Jody have a problem with the EPAS when driving along the motorway on her original VVC? (It may have been a revs problem, I can't remember). Maybe Jody can shed some light on it if she is listening...



Posted 06 June 2000 at 22:17:31 UK time
Jason, Bristol,
Yes you are right, the steering turned max left lock whilst stationary and I could not turn the wheel back straight. I turned off the ignition and restarted which reset the steering and I was able to drive off but within a few yards the same thing was happening again - this time as I was moving the steering force was not so great and I managed, just, to hold the wheel straight - this caused the EPAS to cut out and it stayed off for the rest of the day.
The next morning the steering was fine and it has been ok all day today.
Does anyone know if the EPAS is controlled from the engine ECU or does it have its own "brain"?

Posted 06 June 2000 at 23:13:39 UK time
Kes, Kidderminster

Jason, the EPAS has its own ECU which lives behind the glovebox/passenger airbag. There's a detailed description of the EPAS operation in the workshop manual, part of which says, 'The EPAS system incorporates fail-safe devices which cause it to revert to conventional manual steering in the event of a system failure. The EPAS ECU integral fault monitor sends a signal to the electromagnetic clutch which disconnects the motor. The EPAS ECU informs the driver of any malfunctions via a warning light on the instrument panel. Fault codes are stored in the EPAS ECU memory, for indentification by Testbook.'

The fail-safe devices seem to have failed, and not safely at all, which I think is extremely dangerous. This is unknown to me. I strongly recommend an immediate visit to your dealer (with EPAS fuse removed!). Keep us updated please.

Regards, Kes.

Posted 07 June 2000 at 11:56:59 UK time
Jason, Bristol, UK,
Further to my original message , see EPAS does a Herbie, I have taken the car to the Rover dealers.
The testbook has logged a fault with the torque sensors in the steering column, and after the dealers consulted Rover tech. dept. they informed that I will need a new steering column, as the sensors cannot be replaced individually.
The cost of a new stering column is over 800 plus fitting, (luckily I was sat down when he told me the price).
Where can I get a secondhand EPAS steering column and can anyone recommend a good garage who can fit it for me?
I will keep you all updated.

Posted 07 June 2000 at 12:22:35 UK time
Kes, Kidderminster

Bad news indeed. If there's no offer to fund some of the cost from Rover (possibly not in a 3-year old car) then I would suggest talking to either B&G or Mike Satur, as both of these have resources, experience and enthusiasm for the F, as well as the means to get hold of s/h or discounted replacement parts.

Have you asked Rover why the fail-safe mechanism in the EPAS ECU failed to be safe? I am concerned (and perhaps you are too!) that the EPAS placed you and other road users in a life-threatening position. I am not exaggerating, the steering turning left by itself could kill someone, even at low speed. I wouldn't want such a car driving past me. I'm surprised that this hasn't brought more comments from the BBS.

Regards, Kes.

Posted 07 June 2000 at 12:50:37 UK time
Ted Newman, London
I have to agree with Kes - this sounds like a life threatening situation and a design fault and I would demand an explanation from MG/Rover and a complete FREE OF CHARGE replacement and if they dont play ball I would suggest to them that perhaps you should contact the AA, RAC, Watchdog, The Consumers Association and anyone else that might just be interested in such an 'inbuilt' de-population device.

Meanwhile let us know where you will be - so that we can avoid the area.


Posted 07 June 2000 at 13:17:04 UK time
Steve, Farnborough
I also have to agree with Kes - this appears to be very dangerous.
So, the testbook says the torque sensors are faulty - and you must pay 800 UKP plus fitting ...
Is there no other testing - independent of testbook - that can verify this ? I don't know if specialists exist for ePAS systems but I would certainly try to find some independent assessment of the system.

Posted 07 June 2000 at 19:38:05 UK time
Angela Hartnup, Kent, United Kingdom
Just out of interest.......

Would this problem be covered by the Rover warranty?



Posted 07 June 2000 at 20:25:21 UK time
Jason, Bristol UK,
Thanks for your concern - I have contacted Rover customer service dept. about a good will gesture over the replacement and they are waiting ona report from my dealers.
If they are not forthcoming then yes I will be contacting the AA, Watchdog etc.
Don't worry Ted, you are quite safe - my car is now running around without any PAS - it means I don't have to visit the Gym for a while!
As before - I will keep you updated - but let me know if anyone knows of a secondhand steering column.

Spyros Papageorghiou

Thanks for all your help in this matter - I appreciate your efforts.

>It all happened as 3 lanes had to merge to 2, the light came on and the car >just wouldn't turn, so went straight ahead hitting the front corner into a >concrete pile-on, then bounced off other cars on the freeway.

I don't know what anyone else thinks but from this description it sounds as though Rachelle's sister was travelling fast enough for the weight of the steering not to be significant enough to prevent the wheel from being turned. What I mean is it sounds more like a fault preventing the steering wheel from being turned, not the sudden increase in steering effort required due to EPAS failure. Of course I suppose this may depend on how petite Rachelle's sister is? :-s
Paul Lathwell

When the EPAS went on my car I first noticed it at a roundabout - and it wasn't *so* difficult to turn the wheel, even from stationary: just not so easy as one is used to.

I would say this is definitely not an EPAS-off problem. EPAS-malfunction? Well, that's different... thoug quite how it would lock up the steering other than to one side or the other completely is difficult to understand.

Ed Clarke

Was it raining? Sounds almost like an aquaplane situation - especially with the 'bouncing' statement which sounds like speed was involved.

Not trying to make a critism, just to establish the facts.
Glad she got out OK. The F's a strong car!

N837 OGF

No rain at the time of the accident!! My sister was travelling approx. 80km's hr prior to trying to turn the car - she was on a freeway - speed limit 90km hr, but slowed down a little as she was preparing to merge. I asked her about it again today, and she said she turned the wheel to merge and a small turn of the steering wheel caused an enormous amount of 'turn' in the car, then the steering wheel either locked or was too hard to turn back, because she really tried but couldn't move it. (She had really sore muscles in her arms for days afterwards from trying to turn the wheel!!) It was all over in a matter of seconds.

The 'bouncing' I referred to was the car after it hit the concrete pileon. As the front corner hit, this threw the car hard in the opposite direction, which hit her into another car on the freeway, back into the pileon, and so forth. My sister is a really slight build, but she's a professional dancer, so is small but fit!!


There is something 'not right' with what is being reported here, please don't get me wrong I am not trying to make people into liars or such but the road wheels are solidly and mechanically linked to the steering wheel and so a small turn of the steering wheel relates to a small turn of the road wheels.

So as I see it it could have been:-

1/ Broken steering linkage - and that would now be obvious.

2/ Power steering gone mad - but then that would also have turned the steering wheel as well as the road wheels and presumably wrenched the wheel out of the drivers hands.

3/ Kangaroo (or perhaps a slightly smaller animal or other object) got entangled in the front wheels which during the course of the impacts got thrown clear - so no longer evident.

So:- 1/ As stated would be obvious. 2/ The driver should be able to recall. 3/ For me is the favourite.

Ted Newman

How would we find a 'broken steering linkage'?? Is this something you can see, or would only a mechanic be able to determine this??
We are as puzzled over the incident as anyone, hence the search for answers.


A broken steering link is very obvious, the first sign is the wheels might be facing in different directions, or there would be bits of odd looking lengths of rod hanging out from under the car - either way anyone with a little car knowledge will be able to tell you after a very short inspection - I assume the car is now a write-off or at least is in the yard of some dealers.

Ted Newman

If the steering linkage broke, would the steering-wheel not become free and spin around easily but with no efffect? Or would the EPAS affect it still and effectively lock it?

From the sound of "not much left of the MGF other than the passenger compartment" it might be possible not to see the broken rods etc.

I don't know enough about this stuff though, so I'll shut up now.

Ed Clarke

I would have thought an ill timed (is there any well timed one!) tyre blow-out may well cause the steering to be pulled to one side suddenly. :-s
Paul Lathwell

I know from a guy with a Lamborghini 5000S whose steering linkage broke while crossing a crossroads in downtown city (was driving straight and 'dogslow' for such a car ;)

All he could do with try to push the brake pedal through the floor to stop the uncontrollable monster. Luckily it had good brakes, and he came to a standstill right after the crossroads with nothing hurt, just a fast heartbeat!

He described the moment of breakdown as "all of the sudden the steering wheel was totally free, you could turn it around anyway, no more resistance, no more change in direction, just like those old car simulators in the arcades"

So I guess it was the EPAS which went mad or EPAS engine locked up (locking the whole column) or something snapped in the suspension setup effectively physically blocking the steering mechanism/wheel

And Paul, a tyre blow-out will shake your (d)as(s)h so hard it will certainly break the crossmember bar and perhaps your neck aswell!

I think this is a very serious issue, remarkably I did NOT have this issue, the MG Gods must have forgotten to award me this one aswell... If I had it, I would have sued Rover's butt for selling me a life threatening car.

If the EPAS light came on then maybe there is a fault recorded. Rover's TestBook tool should be able to show the fault (Assuming that you can get the electrics up and running).
I guess that there was no other problem with the steering up to this point ?
Did the insurance company make any comments regarding the cause ?


The EPAS light had come on a few times previously to the accident. My sister had phoned MG, who advised her to turn the car off and restart it, which would make the light go off. They had checked the car at its first service, read the computer thingamy which had recorded the EPAS fault, and had ordered a new part for the EPAS, but advised the car was safe to drive.
Following the accident, the garage where we had the car didn't have a machine that could read the recorded fault info, and from what I understand the car has to be able to be started - which they couldn't do.
MG were not particularly helpful - when my sister phoned to obtain her car records they did not tally with her knowledge of the car - they had recorded something about having a front door 'sticking', which had never been a problem with her car, and even though they had received the new part for the EPAS, their records showed nothing regarding the EPAS fault!!

I guess the people in the cars your sister's MG hit were not injured either - but is there some kind of lawsuit here ?
Do you know which part of the EPAS was to be replaced ? If you are going to challenge the 'safe to drive' advice, then it would be helpful to know if the car suffered the same problem as previously diagnosed, even if this does mean getting the electrics working again.


This thread was discussed between 26/03/2001 and 30/03/2001

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