Power Steering 101: Understanding Parts and Function

Power Steering 101: Understanding Parts and Function

| By: Christian Brothers Automotive

How familiar are you with your car's power steering system? Have you ever attempted to drive a car without power steering? Without power steering, it’s hard even turning your steering wheel. While it’s a fantastic convenience, it’s also one of many essential parts of your vehicle's safety features. Learning about its components and functions will help you detect potential issues before they become problems!

At Christian Brothers Automotive, our expert technicians are here to help you learn more about power steering systems by breaking down what parts make up the system, their functions, and how to maintain it with common repairs. Let’s get rolling with what power steering is and the parts that make it work.

What Is Power Steering?

Simply put, it's a system made up of several parts that work together to make it easier for you to turn the wheel and change the direction of your vehicle.

Power steering systems are either hydraulic (HPS) or electric (EPS), though nearly every vehicle manufacturer is turning to or has already turned to electric power steering. In hydraulic systems, a pump pressurizes fluid to help turn the wheels, while an electric system uses an electric motor to assist.

The EPS has a motor situated under or near the steering wheel. The HPS has a lot of parts that make it work, so it begs for more information; let’s steer in that direction now.

Parts of the Hydraulic Power Steering System

Your power steering system is composed of several components that all work together to make it easier for you to turn the wheel. Your power steering system features:

  • Power Steering Pump – Powered by the drive belt, the power steering pump generates hydraulic pressure and supplies pressurized power steering fluid to the system, enabling easier steering.

  • Rack and Pinion Assembly – The rack and pinion assembly, also known as the steering gear, is the core component of the power steering system. It converts the rotational motion of the steering wheel into lateral movement, turning the vehicle.

  • Steering Coupler – The steering coupler connects the vehicle’s steering wheel and the steering rack and pinion assembly, since the two have different degrees of rotation.

  • Power Steering Lines – The power steering lines transport pressurized fluid between the pump, reservoir, and steering components. They provide a flexible connection and withstand intense hydraulic pressures.

  • Power Steering Reservoir – This component stores power steering fluid between the power steering pump and the rack and pinion assembly.

  • Power Steering Fluid – Power steering fluid is a specialized hydraulic fluid that transfers pressure within the system. It lubricates and cools the components while assisting in smooth power steering operation.

  • Tie Rods – The tie rods link the steering rack and pinion assembly and your car’s wheels. They enable you to turn the car in either direction.

  • Steering Knuckles and Wheels – The steering knuckles, axle, bearings, and wheel hubs transfer power from the steering system to each wheel.

How These Parts Work Together

When you turn the steering wheel, it rotates the steering column, which moves the steering gear. Hydraulic pressure from the power steering pump assists the steering gear in moving the rack, making it easier for the driver to steer. This linearly directed power is transmitted through the tie rods to the steering knuckles, causing the wheels to turn and move the car in the desired direction.

Now that we’ve discussed what power steering is and how it works, let’s turn the wheel a bit. We’ll share how you can maintain your power steering system.

Maintaining Your Power Steering System

While you may be tempted to tackle your car services on your own, it's best to leave power steering repairs and maintenance in the hands of our experienced automotive technicians who have the space, tools, and training to do it right and ensure your safety. And, you’ll receive our industry-leading Nice Difference Warranty.

Regular inspections, proper fluid maintenance, and timely repairs can help prevent major damage to your system, ensuring smooth and effortless steering. Those timely repairs can be made if you’re aware of what to look for, and we can help with that…keep reading!

Pay Attention to Early Signs of Power Steering Failure

Any difficulty turning your steering wheel could signify a power steering issue. A leak is often the culprit, causing your car to lose power steering fluid. A worn-out belt can also be an issue.

Here are the most common early signs of power steering failure:

  • A whining noise when turning the steering wheel

  • A jerking motion when turning the wheel

  • Steering wheel becoming stiff or difficult to turn

  • Red or brown leak spots on the driveway

The earlier you can identify a problem, the easier and faster it will be to diagnose and repair, potentially saving you time, money, and from a complete power steering failure.

Maintain Your Power Steering System with Christian Brothers Automotive

At Christian Brothers Automotive, our expert auto technicians can diagnose any issue you may have with your power steering system and provide the right repair or service. Not only can we provide comprehensive power steering services (and anything else your car may need), but we have locations all over the U.S., making it easier for you to find a reliable auto shop nearby!

Here's what else you'll be able to take advantage of with our team of auto mechanics:

  • Nice Difference® Warranty – Our parts and workmanship are backed by our nationwide warranty for three years or 36,000 miles, whichever occurs last.

  • Honest Approach – With every service we provide, we're honest and upfront, ensuring you understand our services and prices and feel comfortable with what will be done to your car before we get started.

  • Joyful Service – We're more than another local auto repair shop. Our expert techs provide top-notch services and superior customer experiences.

  • Easy Scheduling – You can easily schedule an appointment with us online, no matter what you need, from routine maintenance to complex repairs.

Keep your car running smoothly and safely. With Christian Brothers Automotive’s help, your power steering system problems will be a thing of the past!

If you have any questions about power steering systems or need help with maintenance and repairs, find your local Christian Brothers Automotive to get started!

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