What Does Service Variable Effort Steering Mean?

There are many features that have improved the driving experience. For example, what does service variable effort steering mean? How do you know if your vehicle has this feature? Let’s find out.

A few years ago, driving any vehicle required hefty arms to steer the vehicle. This is how cars were manufactured then. Later in 1951, Chrysler invented a power-assisted steering system. Over the years, there have been a lot of changes made by car manufacturers. 


With the advancement of technology, it has become easier to drive cars. New features and components in cars have improved the overall driving experience. One such feature is service variable effort steering. A lot of new vehicles manufactured nowadays have this feature.


Do you know what service variable effort steering means? A service variable-assist or effort steering provides excellent maneuverability while driving at minimal speed and requires low assist when driving at higher speeds. 


Overall it helps provide excellent stability while driving. So if your vehicle has these features, you need to put less effort and assist in turning the wheels. In this article, let us look further at how the variable effort steering works and other such features.

What Does Service Variable Effort Steering Mean

So, What Is Variable Effort Power Steering?

A variable effort power steering is a steering system in vehicles, having different levels of assist as per your car’s speed. For example, when you drive at a higher speed in a Ford, it needs less assistance and effort to use the steer. 


With this feature, there is higher assist when speed is low and lower assist when speed is much higher. So, with variable effort steering, it makes it easy to maneuver their vehicles even at low speeds with the use of their fingertips.


This mostly happens when the pressure is regulated with the steering gear. Your vehicle’s steering wheel sensor and the speed sensor indicate the control unit with this steering system. The control unit lowers the amount of fluid that goes to the steering gear. Overall, this helps improve your vehicle’s stability and prevents it from getting uncontrollable.


But if you notice a warning sign that says “service power steering,” it means there is some problem with the steering system, and it needs to be checked immediately. Get your car checked by a professional mechanic soon. 


You might like to read: What Does A Steering Knuckle Do?


How Do You Know If Your Vehicle Has Variable Effort Steering?

Searching for a variable effort steering yourself may be challenging for some people. 

Many people may even ask this question: what is magnetic variable-assist steering.


Though it is not an easy task to find if the vehicle has a variable-effort power steering by looking at the vehicle’s performance, do you know why it is so? This is because as the vehicle’s speed gets higher, its steering gets lighter. By the end of this article, hopefully, you will be able to detect your vehicle’s variable effort power steering easily. 


The magnetic variable-assist steering is also known as Magnasteer or MSVA. This is just the previous version of the variable effort steering feature.


The following step will help you find if your vehicle has a variable effort steering system. 

What Does Service Variable Effort Steering Mean

#1 Look At The Serial Number Of Your Car

First, you need to look at the type of steering system in your vehicle. Make sure to look at all the specifications either from the website or your seller. Usually, you will get to know if your vehicle has variable effort steering or not from the specifications themselves. Do not confuse the vehicle specifications with the variable ratios.

#2 Check The Identification Label Of our Vehicle’s Service Components

You can search for variable-effort power steering by looking at the vehicle visually. You can research hydraulic power assist and see if it uses a flow pump. And when you accelerate the engine RPM and the pump sticks at the same place, it means the vehicle is equipped with variable effort power steering.


You can also look at the bottom area of the trunk lid. If you see codes like 1SC, it means it has variable-assist steering. Lastly, you can also have a look at the tire case. If you find any signs like NV7, this means your vehicle has variable-assist steering. 


You might like toread: What Causes Play In Steering Wheel? 3 Reasons


Different Types Of Power Steering Systems

All the three types of power steering below have the same function but are executed differently. Let us have a look in detail.

Hydraulic Assist Power Steering

This type of steering uses pressurized power steering fluid and is operated through a steering pump. It reduces the steering effort. The accessory drive is driven through an engine, turns the steering pump, and the high-pressure power steering fluid flows through a pressure hose and controls the valve. 

Electro-Hydraulic Assist

It uses a brushless electric-motor, drives the hydraulic steering pump, and does not use an accessory drive or serpentine belt. This works the same way as the hydraulic power steering and gives the same feel.

Electric-Assist Power Steering

This type of power steering does not use hydraulic or pressurized pump fluid. It uses a unidirectional brushless magnetic motor and is attached to the steering gear. When you turn the steering wheel, this motor rotates the front wheels. Here, the sensors identify the steering wheel direction and assist the steering gear movement in the right direction. 

No matter what type of system you have in your vehicle, power steering only works when you turn the wheels. The variable-effort power steering is one of the best features used in cars.

What Does Service Variable Effort Steering Mean

What Is EVO Component In Power Steering

The electronic variable Orifice or EVO is a part of the variable-effort steering system. When the speed of your car is less than 40 miles per hour, EVO is open completely. The hydraulic fluid present flows to the steering unit through the steering pump. This provides maximum assistance.


When the speed exceeds 40 mph, the control units cause the EVO to stop the fluid flow. This reduced assist provides better stability and control while driving at high speed. Make sure the variable-effort power steering operates properly. The vehicle’s control unit, valve, and speed sensor need to be in better working condition. If any of these parts get damaged or faulty, the variable-assist will not function, and in some severe issues, the vehicle will lose power assist. 


However, the variable-effort steering system is the most reliable feature in vehicles. It is easy to trace if there is an issue with the steering system through the angle sensors. The only disadvantage is the contacts may wear out after using them for quite a long time and result in wrong signals being sent to the control system. 


You might like to read: My Car Stalls When Turning Steering Wheel – What Could Be The Reason?


What Is Speed Proportional Power Steering

Speed-proportional power steering helps reduce the steering effort that a driver requires to lower the speed while parking. Also, while driving at a higher speed, the steering efforts needs to be firm and give a responsive feel to the vehicle’s power steering.

Is Variable Ratio And Assist Steering different?

Yes, the variable-ratio and assist steering are different. 

The variable-ratio is a variable gear controlled electronically and gets adjusted to the steering condition regardless of the car speed. However, the variable ratio is useful only when accompanied by the assist steering system. 

What Does Service Variable Effort Steering Mean

A Few Final Words

To know if your vehicle has variable effort steering, look at the specifications and codes discussed above or take a test drive to check if variable-assist power steering is there. 


The power steering system is an essential part of any vehicle. Sometimes, you may even find issues with the steering system, and you may notice the steering is hard to turn. So it is essential to keep the steering system well maintained and get your vehicle serviced timely.


Thank you for reading the article, we hope this answered all the questions you had about this important feature. If you have more doubts, feel free to drop us a comment and we will get back to you.

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Sean Mendez

Hi, I am Sean, a self-confessed petrolhead. I live in Boise, Idaho with a busy family of four and our energetic Labrador retriever. Thank you for visiting my website. You can find my email on the contact page.

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