Now being reported is a failure of the power steering electric motor used in Toyota Corollas. Unfortunately, the company that makes this motor also supplies GM the same motor used in Chevy Cobalt and Pontiac G5. The motor overheats and fails, leaving the car without power steering. They say steering effort isn't too great at highway speeds, but becomes very heavy below 15mph. So far only 14 reported accident and one injury reported due to this problem. At least GM has been responsive to the problem in anouncing that there will be a recall and owners will be notified as soon as they make the replacement parts available.
I own a Cobalt, but it has a salvage titile. I am curious if the recall will still cover a free replacement for my car
As others have mentioned, cheap is the motivation in too much engineering nowadays. Power steering has been hydrolicly done for as long as I can remember. Hydrolic PS components must have been quite expensive to produce, as pumps, valves and hoses no doubt cost more than an electirc motor. Although the hydrolic components themselves are quite reliable, the belt that drives the pump does occationally break, resulting in the same kind of stiff steering experienced with a failed electric motor.
I don't necessarily oppose the use of an electric motor for steering assist. You would think, however that with all the money the manufacturers save in using an electric motor that they could at least make it with enough quality and capacity to do the job.