Since its introduction, power steering has made driving much easier. This innovation is not just a luxury but a crucial component in ensuring maneuverability and safety. While it might seem simple at first, there are a few things every car owner should know - whether for maintenance purposes or just to be informed.
How Does The Power Steering System Work
Power steering systems assist the driver by reducing the physical effort needed to turn the steering wheel. Traditionally, this system uses hydraulic pressure derived from the car's engine to aid in steering. When you turn the wheel, a pump sends hydraulic fluid to a piston that helps move the steering gear. This process significantly lessens the force required to steer the vehicle, especially at lower speeds or when the vehicle is stationary.
Different Types Of Power Steering
Power steering systems have evolved over the years, and there are two main types found in modern vehicles:
Hydraulic Power Steering
The hydraulic power steering system is the more traditional form of power assistance. It uses a hydraulic pump, driven by the vehicle's engine via a belt and pulley system. The pump circulates power steering fluid under pressure to assist in steering. This pressure is applied in response to the driver turning the steering wheel, making it easier to turn the wheels of the car. The key advantages of this system are its proven reliability and the smooth, consistent feel it provides. However, it does have a few downsides, such as the potential for fluid leaks and the fact that it saps a small amount of power and fuel efficiency from the engine to operate the pump.
Electric Power Steering (EPS)
Electric Power Steering, a more modern innovation, replaces the hydraulic pump with an electric motor. This motor is usually attached directly to the steering rack or column. The EPS system is controlled by a computer, which adjusts the level of steering assistance based on the vehicle's speed and other factors. The main benefits of EPS are improved fuel efficiency (since it doesn't draw power from the engine), reduced environmental impact (due to the absence of hydraulic fluid), and adaptive steering assistance. However, EPS systems can be more complex electronically, and repairs might be costlier than those for hydraulic systems.
Specific Maintenance Tips For Each Type
One of the most critical maintenance tasks is to ensure the power steering fluid is at the recommended level. Low fluid levels can lead to poor steering performance and damage the system.
Regularly inspect the condition of the belt and pulley that drive the hydraulic pump. Look for signs of wear or damage, as a failure here can lead to a loss of power steering.
Regularly check for leaks in the hoses and seals. Leaks can lead to a drop in hydraulic pressure, which can significantly impair steering assistance.
Ensure that your vehicle's battery is in good condition. A weak battery can affect the EPS system's performance.
Be vigilant about any error codes or warning lights on your dashboard related to the EPS system. These can indicate electrical issues that need professional attention.
Always refer to your vehicle's manual for specific EPS maintenance tips. Regular professional check-ups are recommended to ensure the system's electronic components function correctly.
Why Steering System Care Is Vital
Several reasons make proper care more than mandatory. They include:
- Safety: A well-maintained steering system ensures reliable and responsive control of the vehicle, which is vital for safe driving.
- Preventing Costly Repairs: Addressing minor issues early can prevent more significant, expensive repairs down the road.
- Comfort: Regular maintenance ensures that the steering remains smooth and effortless, contributing to a more comfortable driving experience.
Stay safe on the road and visit us at D. Wells Automotive Service, so we can check up on all of your car's vitals! From the regular old oil change to complex diagnostics - we do it all.