Bolster The Performance Of Your Vehicle’s Power Steering
It’s easy to take power steering (PS) for granted. We have become accustomed to being able to control our vehicles with our index finger, forgetting the thousands of pounds of metal that we’re navigating through our steering wheel. If you’d like a reminder regarding how difficult it would be to steer without power, let your vehicle coast down your driveway with the engine off. You’ll likely struggle to turn the wheel.
Below, we’ll briefly explore the two types of power steering systems: rack and pinion and recirculating ball. We’ll use that introduction as the framework on which to get more performance from your PS system.
Two Types Of PS Systems
All types of PS work with hydraulics. Your car’s engine drives a belt which powers a hydraulic pump. The pump places hydraulic pressure on a small bit of fluid, which ultimately allows you to steer without effort.
Rack and pinion systems are the most common type of steering found in today’s cars. It uses a gearset that is attached to the steering shaft. A pinion gear is attached to the shaft and moves a rack as you turn the wheel. A tie rod sits on the end of the rack and connects to a steering arm, which controls the movement of the tires.
A recirculating ball system is commonly found in large pickups and SUVs. It uses ball bearings within threads that are located between the steering shaft and rack. As the rack moves up and down, the hydraulic pressure allows you to turn right and left, respectively.
Tips For Getting More Performance
Power steering systems feel differently on various types of cars. For example, giant domestic vehicles have a softer feel to the wheel. It’s almost “spongy.” Meanwhile, some of the German vehicles (e.g. BMWs) are more responsive to your commands.
There are plenty of steps you can take in order to get the most from your PS system. First, make sure your treads are healthy by periodically rotating your tires. You should also check the tire pressure every two or three weeks.
Second, if you make a turn and realize that you’re going too fast, avoid applying your brakes. Using your brakes can cause you to lose control of your vehicle. Instead, simply take your foot off the gas pedal and allow the friction of your tires and the momentum of your car to reduce your speed.
Third, remember that your PS system relies on your engine to drive the belt which powers the hydraulic pump. Be prepared to exert force in the event that your engine stalls while you’re driving.
Your vehicle’s power steering system is unlikely to fail; they’re built to last for many years. That said, if you notice a sluggish response in the wheel, wandering back and forth, or a high-pitched squeal when turning the wheel, take your car to a mechanic. Your PS system may need repairs.