How Does Your Power Steering System Work?

For those who don’t know cars well, understanding the power steering system can be complicated. In this article, we’re going to break it down so you can understand everything you need to know about how your power steering system works.


Hydraulic Power Steering


A hydraulic power steering system works by using a hydraulic system to multiply the force applied to the steering wheels inputs to the vehicle’s front road wheels. The hydraulic pressure comes from a rotary vane pump that’s driven by the vehicle’s engine. A double-acting hydraulic cylinder applies force to the steering gear. This is what steers your roadwheels. The steering wheel operates valves to control the flow to the cylinder. The more torque a driver applies to the steering wheel and column, the more fluid passes through the cylinder, and the more force is applied to steer the wheels.


Electro-Hydraulic Systems


Electro-hydraulic power steering systems work slightly differently than basic hydraulic systems. Abbreviated as EHPS and sometimes called hybrid systems, these use the same assist technology as hydraulic systems. However, the hydraulic pressure comes from a pump driven by an electric motor instead of a belt drive.


Electric Systems


Electric power steering or motor-driven power steering uses an electric motor instead of a hydraulic system. Electric systems assist the driver of the vehicle by using sensors to detect the position and torque of the steering column. A computer module then applies assistive torque through the motor, which connects to the steering gear or the steering column. This allows assistance to be used in varying amounts based on driving conditions.


Electric systems have the advantage of fuel efficiency because there is no belt-driven hydraulic pump that runs constantly. The elimination of the belt-driven engine accessory is another significant advantage. As well as the elimination of several high-pressure hydraulic hoses between the hydraulic pump and the steering gear. This simplifies manufacturing and maintenance.


Steering and Alignment


Traditionally, when you turn the steering wheel, all wheels on your vehicle turn in the same direction. When all the inner workings of your power steering system are operating to their best abilities, there’s still one thing to consider when it comes to your steering system- wheel alignment. Safe steering and proper wheel alignment work together to drive your vehicle effectively.


When cars are first manufactured, your wheels are preset at particular angles to keep them running straight and help your car ride smoothly. Unfortunately, your alignment can get thrown off over time. Hitting bumps in the road, driving over potholes, or going on unpaved roads can all cause your wheel alignment to shift. Improper alignment doesn’t just shorten the lifespan of your tires. Still, it also affects your ability to safely and accurately steer your vehicle.


Proper alignment helps ensure your vehicle will move in the direction you steer and keep you where you need to be on the road. Luckily, improper wheel alignment can be easily fixed with an adjustment from a reliable auto mechanic.


Contact A&A Any Car for Your Vehicle Repairs


If you have questions about your power steering system or need wheel alignment adjustment, A&A Any Car is here to help. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with our affordable Apple Valley auto repair technicians.

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