Power steering

I have a 2002 e2 that I have owned for about five years and my wife has complained over and over about the extremely hard steering effort required to turn this thing while stopped or at real slow speeds. I have found an after market, ATV electric power steering company that sells a nice small 12 volt unit that goes between the wheel and the steering gear and was wondering if anyone had installed this unit on a GEM before? I will try to send the PDF file so that you can see the unit.


content removed…

I concur that inspecting your steering components is in order. My wife has very little upper body strength and thinks our 2005 e2 is easier to steer than any of our “real” vehicles with power steering. She often turns the wheels at a dead stop I’ve noticed.

I appreciate your comments but unfortunately for me both of you own GEMs with the upgraded steering systems. I believe they were upgraded in 2004 or 2005 and have much easier steering than the older units. At a dead stop it takes two hands to turn the wheel if you need to turn it before you go forward or backwards. It is a pretty well known issue with the older units. The 12 v unit that I was looking at makes it truly a one finger operation and it looks doable but I thought maybe someone else had already done it.

Those 12 volt power steering units will be too much electrical draw for the GEM’s DC converter. You might be able to get away with adding a small (18-20 AH) battery under the dash and parallel-charge it through a diode and relay to provide the surge current your power steering would demand but I’d be a bit wary. You might need a separate 20-30 amp DC converter and, of course, the mechanical adapters to replace your current manual rack & pinion steering. The gearing on the ATV style steering is way different than the GEM. You might want to look at current side-by-side ATVs for the power steering system.

Can you post a link to that in-line power unit so we can examine its specifications?

I could Bob but I am new and the system will not let me publish a URL or link until I have 5 posts. I’ll send this e-mail address and see if it will let me.
. I was worried mostly about the 12 v supply also since the 12v accessory supply is not very stout in the first place. My other option was to use one of the systems batteries with a two battery switch that I could switch back and forth with to keep one battery from always being lower than the others. Mechanically it doesn’t look to difficult to install but I havent seen one done by anyone else. They offer units for garden tractors and John Deere gators.

I saw a couple of universal electric power steering kits (probably the same unit) but can’t find any specs for current draw. Here’s what I’d do:

  1. Put a 12 volt relay on the normal 12 volt output that connects and disconnects a 12 volt battery from the DC converter.

Insert a 1.5 ohm 100 watt wire-wound resistor between the relay and battery to limit charge current to less than 10 amps at any time to prevent overloading the DC converter.

  1. Run the power steering off this external battery instead of directly off the DC converter. Install a little voltmeter on the auxiliary battery to monitor its state of charge.

  2. Have an experience aluminum fabricator/welder make a support bracket for the power steering under the dash and cut your steering shaft short - installing new U-joints to get the power steering unit between the wheel and rack & pinion.

I really think it’s possible but it seems like $1000 for a universal power steering system plus the welder’s charge, U-joints and the $100 or so for the extra battery, relay, resistor and wiring (plus labor) is going to run into some serious dough. I’d plan on AT LEAST $1500 to $2000 to add power steering to your GEM.

Have you tried running higher tire-pressure? Or getting your wife a gym membership to build up her upper-body strength?

Since you have a 2002 is it safe to assume you have the 10" rims? If so, I have read that putting larger rims with automotive LRR (low rolling resistance) tire on it makes it easier to turn. I will be doing this to mine sometime this week as I am waiting on the wheel adapters to be delivered so I can mount my new rims. I will let you know if it makes a difference.

I already have the larger mag wheels and tires on my e2 and if I pump the pressure up to where the tires are hard the ride is right out of a back repair clinic. It does turn a little easier but the compromise in ride quality is not acceptable. The PS unit I found is $649 total except for a GEM car which they have never done before. If I could find out the diameter of the steering shaft and the spline count then I could have them make up the new piece for me. I can do my own welding and fab work so that is not a cost item for me. My biggest fear was the delicate system that the GEM has and having once replaced the 12 v supply transformer I do not want to do it again. I was thinking of adding a small car battery up front just for the PS unit and would have to figure out how to charge it from the normal circuit. If you can think of a way to do it let me know. Here is the site for the PS unit. Maybe they will let me link now. They won’t so here is the cryptogram for the site; sales@superatv.com ATV and UTV Accessories : ATV Wheels and Tires : Super ATV LLC

Mod Edit - Fixed the link for you.

From a money perspective you might consider trading in the 2002 for a 2005 or newer.

220 Watt motor - that’s almost 20 amps when working hard. The stock DC converter only puts out 20 amps tops and at least 10-12 of that is used for lights and stuff already.

You’re probably going to need either another separate battery and charger or another DC converter to make the power for that system.

I agree with you about the smart thing to do is to trade but like the comedian Ron White said about his run in with the cops when they told him he had the right to remain silent, he couldn’t. I have modified my cars and homes instead of just trading to a new one. I think it is probably bad DNA!