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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Suggestion for Saturn Aura and all Epsilons equipped with rack & pinion steering...

Dear Mr. Bob Lutz and other GM Product Planners,

I am the owner of a 2007 Saturn Aura XE which is equipped with the conventional hydraulic rack & pinion steering rack that is also used on the current Malibu LTZ V6 and Pontiac G6 3.6 GTP models as well. Overall I am pretty satisfied with my Aura as a whole, however one thing that noticeably bothers me about the conventional rack & pinion steering unit used in this vehicle is the fact that the steering feel is excessively heavy and doesn't have enough hydraulic power assist at any speed. :yup:

Although I am in no way advocating the use of overboosted feather-light steering systems, I feel that the steering system in my Aura is excessively heavy to the point where at times it almost makes the car feel more like a burden than a pleasure to drive which is very unfortunate, especially at lower speeds. At speed and on the highway it is less noticeable, but it's still hard to overlook at times because their is a lack of power assist at virtually any speed that makes the car a burden and an effort to drive at times.

I feel that the obvious reason this was done is due to the fact that many auto reviewers had criticized GM in the past for having hydraulic rack & pinion steering systems which lacked road feel and were sometimes overly light in steering feel, and I think the important point should be made that heavy steering feel does not necessarily equal better steering feel. And although the Aura is a European influenced car due to its Opel Vectra roots and many European vehicles have heavier steering feel I think that this was done to the point of overkill in the Saturn Aura. :yup:

I've read more than one review on the Aura/G6/Malibu that uses this hydraulic steering unit that also complained of the overly heavy steering and lack of power assist. Therefore ultimately I feel that revising this steering unit for some more power assist at all speeds would significantly improve the driveability, refinement, and overall steering performance of all Epsilon-platform vehicles that use this hydraulic rack & pinion system.

As a GM fan and GM vehicle owner I highly recommend that you revise this steering unit as soon as possible for more hydraulic power assist at all speeds to lighten up the steering feel which would ultimately improve the driveability and refinement of all the Epsilon vehicles. Of course I don't suggest that you add a high amount of power assist to this steering system which would make it excessively light and numb, but I think that this steering unit does need a bit more assist to make the vehicles feel like less of a burden and a chore to drive and more of a pleasure and a joy. If a relatively small amount of hydraulic power assist is added at all speeds for this steering unit I feel that a great balance of driveability and steering feel can be acheived here. :yup:

Thank you for listening GM and I hope that you implement this recommendation to your vehicles as soon as conveniently possible.

Sincerely,
Patrick Cairo
 

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Re: Suggestion for Saturn Aura and all Epsilons equipped with rack & pinion steering.

I will switch you my electric power steering 2005 Malibu for your Hydralic unit;-)

Too bad they couldn't make it adjustable to the driver. Have a 1 to 10 scale that you set thru the radio or navigation system. They could definitely do it with the full electric unit and the combo electric motor driving a hydraulic pump unit. They probably couldn't with the engine ran pump.
 

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Re: Suggestion for Saturn Aura and all Epsilons equipped with rack & pinion steering.

The issue with EPS is that there is constant boost, and it leaves little steering feel. The issue with HPS is that the fluid pump can sometimes fall behind, and you temporarily lose power assist, that and it can feel heavy (or light) at parking lot speeds.
 

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Re: Suggestion for Saturn Aura and all Epsilons equipped with rack & pinion steering.

I thought they had variable assist that makes the cars feel light at low speed but heavier at high speeds.
 

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Re: Suggestion for Saturn Aura and all Epsilons equipped with rack & pinion steering.

I prefer the steering in the old Fiero's to a hydraulic or electric steering system. But of course that isn't practical in a front engine vehicle.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Re: Suggestion for Saturn Aura and all Epsilons equipped with rack & pinion steering.

I thought they had variable assist that makes the cars feel light at low speed but heavier at high speeds.
Variable assist can be used in both electric and conventional hydraulic power steering systems, however I don't think that the Aura's hydraulic rack is equipped with variable assist, and the irony of that is the Aura's electric power steering units in the 2.4 Ecotec versions including the hybrid Greenline actually have variable assist.

My father's 2006 3.6 CTS has variable power assist and it really does work the way it's suppose to and you can definitely feel a difference in steering feel from low speeds to high speeds. The power assist is light and precise at lower speeds around town and when parking but at the same time it firms up nicely at speed and on the highway so that the car doesn't feel overly sensitive and numb at higher speeds. I wish my Aura had the same hydraulic steering unit that my father's 06 CTS has because it feels so light and nimble yet still very precise. :yup:

If the Aura/G6/Malibu conventional hydraulic rack doesn't have variable assist then it should definitely be equipped with that feature as soon as possible along with an overall small increase in power assist at all speeds. If the electric power steering units in the Epsilon's now feature variable assist then the hydraulic units should most definitely have this desirable feature as well. :yup:
 

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Re: Suggestion for Saturn Aura and all Epsilons equipped with rack & pinion steering.

Interesting...

I, too, own a 2007 Aura XE and I have no issues at all with the power steering. I think the steering wheel has the proper power assist at all speeds, and I have no issues at all in parking lot situations.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Re: Suggestion for Saturn Aura and all Epsilons equipped with rack & pinion steering.

Interesting...

I, too, own a 2007 Aura XE and I have no issues at all with the power steering. I think the steering wheel has the proper power assist at all speeds, and I have no issues at all in parking lot situations.
I'm seriously starting to think that maybe my steering unit is having some sort of an issue, but then again I'm not too sure because I've read several reviews on the Aura and the G6 GTP(which uses the same hydraulic steering unit as the Aura) that also mentioned the overly heavy steering feel and lack of power assist particularly and lower speeds.
 

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Re: Suggestion for Saturn Aura and all Epsilons equipped with rack & pinion steering.

Some folks like the steering at the current heft. I'm with you though, crazyjkz. My 08 LTZ does feel a bit heavy in most situations. Of course, the torque steer that comes on when you floor the throttle at 35-40 mph completely reverses the situation! :D (old coots on the two lane near my home drive that speed a lot, even though it's a 55 zone. There's only a 1/4 mile stretch of passing zone, to make things worse)
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Re: Suggestion for Saturn Aura and all Epsilons equipped with rack & pinion steering.

Some folks like the steering at the current heft. I'm with you though, crazyjkz. My 08 LTZ does feel a bit heavy in most situations. Of course, the torque steer that comes on when you floor the throttle at 35-40 mph completely reverses the situation! :D (old coots on the two lane near my home drive that speed a lot, even though it's a 55 zone. There's only a 1/4 mile stretch of passing zone, to make things worse)
You know at higher speeds like on the highway the steering heft becomes less bothersome but it's really starting to annoy me particularly at lower speeds when trying to park or driving casually around town. Like I said before I'm most certainly not suggesting that GM revert back to the traditional feather-light steering effort in the Aura/G6/Malibu however they definitely need to add a bit more power assist at all speeds to the hydraulic steering unit used in the Epsilon cars in order to reduce the overall steering effort because as of right now it's simply just too heavy. :yup:

It's really starting to bother me now that I've had my 2007 Aura XE for a little over a year now and it just makes the car feel like more of a burden to drive than a pleasure which I'm sure is definitely NOT what GM intended, but even though they obviously didn't intend for the heavy steering to become more of a burden it still doesn't change the fact that as of right now the steering effort is EXCESSIVELY heavy and needs to be lightened up as soon as possible.

With the overly heavy steering, unresponsive and outdated 4T45-E 4-speed auto, and the overall choppy ride which doesn't absorb bumps well I'm really starting to consider trading in my 2007 Aura XE for an Altima 2.5S or the upcoming redesigned 2009 Mazda 6. Also after driving several 2.5 Altimas and a few other DOHC I-4 fwd midsize imports the 3500/4spd auto powertrain in my Aura XE feels sluggish/unrefined/outdated by a relatively wide margin as opposed to the 2.5 Altima which feels smooth, peppy, and responsive. :yup:
 

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Re: Suggestion for Saturn Aura and all Epsilons equipped with rack & pinion steering.

There is only one solution....driver faster!!

Steering heft and weight will vary from person to person. It took me a good month to get used to the EPS system on my Maxx, but after that I thought it did well for a family sedan.
Perhaps see if you can find and drive another Aura with the PS system, see if there is any difference. Its possible that you need to take a visit to a Saturn dealer service center.
 

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Re: Suggestion for Saturn Aura and all Epsilons equipped with rack & pinion steering.

And although the Aura is a European influenced car due to its Opel Vectra roots and many European vehicles have heavier steering feel I think that this was done to the point of overkill in the Saturn Aura.
The Saturn Aura has nothing to do with Opel Vectra. Its roots lie with the Pontiac G6, if anything. Not that it is on-topic, but I feel it is my duty to correct this misconception.
 

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Re: Suggestion for Saturn Aura and all Epsilons equipped with rack & pinion steering.

I'm seriously starting to think that maybe my steering unit is having some sort of an issue, but then again I'm not too sure because I've read several reviews on the Aura and the G6 GTP(which uses the same hydraulic steering unit as the Aura) that also mentioned the overly heavy steering feel and lack of power assist particularly and lower speeds.
Maybe you should have your unit checked, like BigAls said. While I wonder if maybe mine is over boosted, from what you've described, I'm thinking that your PS unit is defective if the effort required to park a car is that high.
 

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Re: Suggestion for Saturn Aura and all Epsilons equipped with rack & pinion steering.

The Saturn Aura has nothing to do with Opel Vectra. Its roots lie with the Pontiac G6, if anything. Not that it is on-topic, but I feel it is my duty to correct this misconception.
It does actually. The Aura (and 08 Malibu) is an Epsilon platform car. The Epsilon was used on the Opel Vectra (and Saab 9-3) and was first implemented in North America in the 2004-2007 Malibu like mine. And the G6 uses the long wheelbase Epsilon that the current Aura and Malibu now use.
 

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Re: Suggestion for Saturn Aura and all Epsilons equipped with rack & pinion steering.

It does actually. The Aura (and 08 Malibu) is an Epsilon platform car. The Epsilon was used on the Opel Vectra (and Saab 9-3) and was first implemented in North America in the 2004-2007 Malibu like mine. And the G6 uses the long wheelbase Epsilon that the current Aura and Malibu now use.
Sorry, but Bravada is right.

While the Vectra/Aura do both ride on Epsilon, the Aura does not share anything with the Opel Vectra. You said so yourself that they ride on different wheelbases. They (Aura/Vectra) also don't share any powertrains, transmissions or interior design. The only thing that the Aura shares with the Vectra is a front-end resemblance. Aura was also tuned with European sport handling, whatever that means (tighter suspension tuning).

The Aura has a lot more in common with the G6 and current Malibu than with a Vectra.
 

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Re: Suggestion for Saturn Aura and all Epsilons equipped with rack & pinion steering.

Yep,

and the Vectra use an EHPS Steering.
 

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Re: Suggestion for Saturn Aura and all Epsilons equipped with rack & pinion steering.

All I meant was that they are both on the Epsilon platform since Bravada said, "The Saturn Aura has nothing to do with Opel Vectra."
 

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Re: Suggestion for Saturn Aura and all Epsilons equipped with rack & pinion steering.

I would say that I love my 2005 Malibu except for two problems: Front suspension and EPS. It is a clunky and imprecise experience. So while you say steering effort it too high for you, if the front suspension is tight, have good road feel and it goes in a straight line; I envy you. To bad too as I love everything else. Especially the 30 + mpg I am experiencing from a outdated 4 speed automatic and a uncouth 2.2 Ecotec;)
 
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