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Electric Power steering going in and out at low speed

I have a 2010 RAV4 with only 64K miles. Today on my way to work, the power steering abruptly stopped working at a stop sign, then kicked back in when speed picked up. The power steering light came on followed a beat later by the electric charging system light (the one that looks like a battery). Once this occurred, it happened each time I stopped. After work, car started fine and power steering was OK for the first 5 minutes of the drive (at least 3 stops), and then power steering failure (PS light, then electric light) occurred with each subsequent stop. Battery is 18 months old. Don’t want to drive the car, dealer can’t look at it for 10 days. Don’t have a regular mechanic, but does this sound like something that a competent repair shop can diagnose? Any ideas as to cause appreciated.

Bring the vehicle to a parts store that tests batteries and charging systems for free. The alternator may be starting fail.


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Either battery or the alternator is failing. You aren’t getting enough electrical current to run the steering Or the steering system itself is drawing too much current because it is failing.

It should be something a competent shop could fix. This car is 9 years old and way out of warranty so an independent shop is a good bet.

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+1 to the two previous replies.
The OP’s vehicle has electrical problems, NOT power steering problems.
Once a competent* mechanic determines whether the problem lies in the battery, or the alternator–or both–the PS should begin functioning normally again.

*Please note that “competent” does not include the guys at Midas, Meineke, Monro, Sears, Pep Boys, or–God forbid–AAMCO. Ask friends, relatives, and co-workers for recommended independent shops.

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