What Is The Basic Function of the Power Steering System

What Is The Basic Function of the Power Steering System | Cottman of Waldorf

Power steering is a system that helps drivers steer by augmenting the effort needed to turn the steering wheel. Now, imagine driving without power steering – sounds tough, right? 

Power steering has evolved from the early days of manual steering. The tech we have today makes driving smoother and more accessible to everyone. But how does it work exactly?

Understanding Power Steering Systems

Power steering is a game-changer in vehicle handling. At its core, it uses hydraulic or electrical systems to assist in steering the wheels. This technology reduces the physical effort required to turn the steering wheel, especially at lower speeds or when the vehicle is stationary.

Types of Power Steering Systems

There are mainly two types: Hydraulic Power Steering (HPS) and Electric Power Steering (EPS). HPS uses a pump driven by the engine to provide assistance, while EPS uses an electric motor for the same purpose. Some vehicles also have Electro-Hydraulic Systems, combining both principles.

Hydraulic Power Steering (HPS)

HPS systems use a pump, driven by the vehicle's engine, to circulate hydraulic fluid under pressure. This pressurized fluid makes it easier to turn the steering wheel by assisting the steering gear. The beauty of HPS lies in its responsiveness to driving conditions. For instance, it provides more assistance during slower maneuvers, like parking, making the steering wheel easier to turn. At higher speeds, it reduces assistance, giving the driver better feedback and control.

Electric Power Steering (EPS)

EPS systems, in contrast, utilize an electric motor for steering assistance. This motor is connected to either the steering column or the steering gear. One of the main advantages of EPS is its precision and adaptability. It can adjust the level of assistance based on the vehicle's speed, steering wheel movement, and other driving conditions. Additionally, since EPS uses electrical power and not the engine's power, it's more energy-efficient, potentially improving fuel economy and reducing emissions.

Electro-Hydraulic Systems (EHS)

Electro-Hydraulic Power Steering (EHPS) systems blend elements from both hydraulic and electric power steering. In EHPS, an electric motor powers the hydraulic pump instead of the engine. This setup offers the benefits of hydraulic steering, such as a natural steering feel and variable assist, while also improving efficiency by using an electric pump.

It's a middle ground, providing the responsiveness of hydraulic systems with some of the energy savings of electric systems. EHPS is particularly useful in vehicles where the efficiency of EPS is desired, but the feel and performance of traditional hydraulic systems are preferred.

Maintenance of Power Steering Systems

Regular maintenance is crucial, as with any other system or component. If you want to keep going through turns and twists as smoothly as possible, here's what you should do:

  • Low fluid can lead to increased wear and poor steering performance. Check the level and top up if necessary.
  • Look for leaks in the system, including hoses and connections.
  • Whining or groaning noises can indicate a problem.
  • Have your system checked by a professional during routine vehicle servicing.

What To Do When the Steering System Is Malfunctioning

If you notice your steering system malfunctioning, don't panic. There are a few steps you can take to make this problematic situation go smoothly.

  • Check for Obvious Signs: First, see if there's anything visibly wrong, like leaks or damage to the steering components.
  • Fluid Level and Quality: Ensure the power steering fluid is at the correct level and check its quality. If it's low or looks dirty, it might need a top-up or change.
  • Listen for Unusual Noises: Pay attention to any strange sounds when turning the wheel. Noise can indicate issues with the power steering pump or low fluid levels.
  • Feel the Steering: If the steering wheel feels stiff or unresponsive, it's a sign of a problem.
  • Avoid Driving if Necessary: If steering is difficult or the system seems unreliable, it's safer to not drive. This prevents potential accidents and further damage to the vehicle.
  • Seek Professional Assistance: The best course of action is to have your vehicle checked by a qualified mechanic. They can accurately diagnose and fix the issue.

With the power steering system always being in use, it can start to have problems. If you want to avoid that, come by Cottman of Waldorf, and we will take care of it! It's as simple and quick as booking an appointment online and leaving the rest to us!

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