The brakes and steering can not lock up. If the engine stalls or the serpentine belt is slipping the steering will become hard due to the lack of power assist but you'll still be able to steer. It will actually steer easier the faster the car is moving. You can practice that in an empty parking lot if you've never experienced that before by turning the ignition switch off while the car is moving.
The "battery" light means the charging system is not recharging the battery while you're driving. Most commonly that starts out as an intermittent problem that is caused by worn brushes in the alternator but it's normal for that light to turn on if the engine stalls.
Given the multiple symptoms of hard steering and the battery light, look at the belt first to be sure the spring-loaded tensioner is keeping it tight. Sometimes they rust tight and don't hold sufficient tension on the belt. Typically you'll hear it squeal too.
The rough running is due to a misfire. Old spark plugs and wires are the most common cause. The Check Engine light told you the Engine Computer detected a problem and set a diagnostic fault code. Reading that code will tell you which circuit or system has the problem and needs further diagnosis.
You added a new problem by replacing the battery. The Engine Computer will lose its memory. If the Check Engine light has not turned on again while driving, that fault code will be erased and that valuable information will be lost. You'll have to wait for the problem to be detected again. Also, the computer will have to relearn "minimum throttle" before it will know when it has to be in control of idle speed. Until then it will be hard to start unless you hold the gas pedal down 1/4", it won't give you the nice idle flare-up to 1500 rpm when you start it, and it will want to stall when you come to a stop. Those things will be aggravated by a misfire. To meet the conditions for the relearn to take place, drive at highway speed with the engine warmed up, then coast for at least seven seconds without touching the pedals.
Tuesday, June 25th, 2013 AT 10:05 AM