Power steering is what allows us to easily steer our cars. Although we might all be much stronger without it, our cars would also be difficult and unsafe to drive. The power steering system uses hydraulics to make turning a 2-ton vehicle feel much lighter and allows us to make sudden and evasive moves. Losing power steering in your vehicle can make it difficult or impossible to drive with any level of safety or convenience, and it can even be illegal in some states.
A technician will inspect the vehicle and provide a detailed explanation of what is needed to resolve your vehicle’s steering issues. A flush or even a tire balance may be all your vehicle needs to alleviate the difficulties in the power steering system.
Hydraulic, or HPS (high-pressure steering), consists of a recirculating ball steering gear or the rack and pinion gear. Both are considered power steering assist systems, allowing the driver to steer the vehicle if the engine, which powers the power steering pump, isn’t running and thus not supplying fluid to the steering gear. Hydraulic systems use the power of the engine with the use of a belt attached to the pump to circulate power steering fluid throughout the system.
What does power steering fluid do? This fluid transmits the power in power steering. The power steering pump circulates the fluid under pressure, enabling the hydraulic piston in the steering gear to move. Because of the improvements in modern vehicles, the systems of today are able to sense the speed of the vehicle and slow the input from the steering wheel to the steering gear to reduce the sensitivity at higher speeds for safety. This is just one of the many ways that the system has been improved overall over the years.
Over time, dirt, and debris along with weakened power steering components, may contaminate power steering fluid. That’s why it’s recommended to have the power steering fluid flushed ~ 30,000 miles. Avoiding this service, could cause the pump to work harder and wear out prematurely. Thus, causing more issues and potentially doing severe damage to certain components of your vehicle. In between flushes you can check the fluid level
EPS, or electric power steering is a bit simpler as the vehicle’s computer is responsible for easing the steering process. The EPS system is most often equipped with a small electric motor that is either placed at the base of the steering column or directly on the steering rack. Unlike the hydraulic system, EPS does not use the power of the engine, which increases fuel economy. When a driver wants to turn, the computer is able to translate the turning of the steering wheel to an electric motor that assists in moving the rack and pinion back and forth. Similar to HPS, the electric system varies the sensitivity at higher speeds for increased safety.
When turning becomes a difficult process, a fluid leak or component failure may be to blame. If the vehicle is hard to control or has too much “free play” and wanders, it’s time to take your vehicle to a certified repair center. Did you know that improperly mounted or balanced tires can also affect the system? It is important that the vehicle is running at 100% all the time so that one small issue, doesn’t over time cause another issue with something that works alongside it.
Don’t let a worn or faulty system let you end up in a dangerous situation. Our ASE-certified technicians at any of our three Lake City Auto Care locations will make sure your car is safe and easy to drive. Whether it’s a bad pump, leaking fluid, or any other related problems, we can take care of you and your vehicle so you can drive with confidence.
Schedule an appointment at one of three locations today. We serve the Rathdrum, Coeur d’Alene, and Hayden areas, and offer quality service with an experienced team!