I used to be a mechanic, so I was immediately skeptical of Nissan’s move to mechanically disconnect the steering wheel from the steering gear in its new Infiniti Q50 sedan with its Direct Adaptive Steering system. During my time wrenching on cars, I’d seen mechanical systems fail catastrophically; so imagining a system that was solely steer-by-wire was a horrifying thought for me.
After a few weeks, though, I realized that Nissan wouldn’t sell it if it weren’t confident with the system. Plus, it included a fail-safe clutch that would connect the wheel to the steering gear in case the steering ECUs failed.
Infiniti has now initiated a recall for the Q50 surrounding a glitch in the steer-by-wire system. Here’s how Nissan reported the issue to safety regulators: “… should the engine compartment reach freezing temperatures, the power steering software may disable the electric steering system and also may delay the engagement of the mechanical steering backup system … increasing the risk of a crash.”
Luckily, only 23 cars are affected by the glitch and the Nissan has scheduled the vehicles to be towed to the nearest Infiniti dealer.
Thankfully, Nissan caught the problem before it became a widespread problem.
For me, though, this raises questions again as to why automakers would want to remove the mechanical link between the steering wheel and the steering gear. Sure, computers might be able to iron out some of the imperfections of the roadway that are often transferred to the steering wheel. But a niggling little problem like having to make micro adjustments to your steering wheel isn’t a large enough issue to remove mechanical connection complete.
But, hey, maybe that’s just me.