The modern RAV4 electric power steering system is reliable and it provides a smooth experience. In most cases, problems never occur.

However, the vehicle isn’t immune from trouble. For this reason, I’ve outlined some of the top Toyota RAV4 electric power steering problems that occur.

Let’s dive right into the vehicles that include this advanced system and discuss why the RAV4 electric power steering warning light comes on.

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Here’s Which RAV4s Have Electric Power Steering

There are two main types of power steering in cars: electric and hydraulic.

A Toyota RAV4 can either have an electric power steering setup or a hydraulic power steering configuration, depending on the model year.

All Toyota RAV4 models from 2006 and newer include electric power steering. Any older models have a hydraulic power steering system instead.

Hydraulic power steering is the older of the two options. This system includes a pump, hoses, plus valves that direct the flow of hydraulic fluid. The power steering pump provides the pressure needed to move fluid. It is driven with a belt connected to the engine.

The fluid applies force to the car’s steering rack, helping to rotate the tires when changes are made to the steering wheel. This type of power steering isn’t used as much today.

Instead, automakers are moving to electric power steering. Because the system relies on power from an electric motor, a more consistent performance occurs. The Engine Control Unit (ECU) communicates with various sensors to ensure that adjustments occur quickly.

This system doesn’t rely on any power steering fluid to work, thereby reducing how much maintenance is needed as well.


Potential Causes for an Electric Power Steering (EPS) Warning Light on a Toyota RAV4

The RAV4 electric power steering warning light looks like a steering wheel with an exclamation mark next to it. When this warning light appears on the dashboard, a fault has occurred.

Depending on what has gone wrong, the power steering may not perform normally. There’s also the chance that it won’t work at all, leaving drivers in danger.

While a multitude of problems can lead to this warning light, there are two that are most common. In many cases, a weak battery or water leak is to blame. Either way, it’s critical to contact a local Toyota dealer or mechanic to diagnose the fault.

1. Weak Battery

12v car battery

The 12-volt RAV4 battery is responsible for running all of the electronic systems, including the power steering. If the battery is weak, it’s common for the electric power steering to malfunction. In this case, other electronic equipment may also act up at the same time.

Above all, this is the most common issue that leads to the warning light. In fact, it can also occur when the battery is new, but not for the same reason.

A new battery won’t always be weak, but the connection could be to blame. If there’s corrosion on the terminals or connectors, it will operate like a weak battery. In this case, cleaning the corrosion with baking soda and water establishes a better connection.

When in doubt, it’s best to have the battery tested. If it is weak or won’t hold a charge, it’s time to have it replaced.

2. Water Leak Damage

Water and electronics don’t mix. Sadly, some RAV4 models have a recall related to water leakage. If the RAV4 has a water leak that infiltrates the steering gearbox, it’s likely that you’ll lose the use of electric power steering.

If the vehicle was fixed with the recall, it’s unlikely that this is the problem. For this reason, it’s important to have all recalls fixed when the alert is sent out.

According to the NHTSA, the recall affects certain 2019-2020 RAV4 and 2020 RAV4 Hybrid vehicles with electric power steering (EPS). It’s easy to check a particular vehicle by VIN on the NHTSA website to see if it’s affected by the recall. If so, have the Toyota RAV4 electric power steering problems and water leak repaired immediately.


Maintain Control of the Toyota RAV4

The benefits of the RAV4 electric power steering system far outweigh the potential problems. This system is designed to provide maximum control and on-road safety. Yet, it’s not immune from trouble.

When the Toyota RAV4 power steering malfunctions, an alert shows up on the dashboard. The first step is to test the battery to see if the system is getting the power it needs. Beyond that, visiting a mechanic would be the next priority to ensure everything runs as it should.

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  1. Bought new 2023 Rav4 a week ago. Hate the steering. Seems like I’m fighting it all the time.

    1. Hi,

      This could be the lane tracing assist, especially if you’re experiencing this issue while in cruise control. I remember driving my RAV4 home from the dealership and noticed that same feeling. You can turn LTA off using the button on the steering wheel. Check the owner’s manual for more information.

      If that doesn’t work, there should be no reason why you’d feel like you’re fighting the steering wheel. This is not a common report. Visit your Toyota dealer or mechanic to diagnose and fix the issue.

      1. I do have lta turned off. I don’t really fight it hard but always needs a little correction always. If I took my hand off a second it would wander. Thinking taking off 5 lbs pressure on tires might help but then it would show low tire. Wondering now, since we’ve only had it a week and it’s been below zero every day, if it’s the cold weather.

        1. Have you measured the tire pressure from the dealership? I know my tires were overinflated by about 12 PSI from the dealer… If that doesn’t resolve the issue, definitely take it to a mechanic/dealer.

  2. I think the EPS light comes on but goes out quickly , then I get a message battery charging?Rav 4 2022 7200 miles on it in about a year

    1. That’s an interesting warning. I’ve noticed that the RAV4 tends to throw strange warnings when the battery is low or in poor health.

      I recommend getting your battery checked at a local auto parts store, and you might want to consider a trickle charger if you think the battery might be the culprit: