Are you old enough to remember what driving was like without power steering? If so, then you probably remember how forceful you needed to be with the steering wheel just to turn it left or right. It is even worse when you’re dealing with rough terrains, such as gravel or snow, and need to make turns in it.
The convenient thing about a power steering system is that it eliminates the amount of force you need to turn the steering wheel. Rather than exhaust all your upper arm strength, you can just apply a little bit of strength to the steering wheel and allow the vehicle to turn smoothly without any hassle.
The whole functionality behind a power steering system revolves around hydraulics. It is the hydraulic fluid inside the power steering system which allows turning the wheel to be so much easier and smoother. Of course, there are several other components in the system which contribute to this overall process as well.
Hydraulic Power Steering System Components
If you’re driving a vehicle that was made within the last 20 years, the chances are that it has a hydraulic power steering system in it. Below is a list of the components of a car hydraulic power steering system. Each one of these components must stay functional for the steering to stay easy and simple. If just one component were to malfunction, then it will compromise the entire power steering process. Then you’ll find the steering to be harder instead of easier.
1. Power Steering Fluid
This is the hydraulic fluid which puts pressure on the piston in order to make turning easier for the driver. You must remember to use the proper power steering fluid that is made for hydraulics.
The power steering pump pressurizes the power steering fluid and causes it to be transferred to the rack and pinion set. There is a serpentine belt or accessory drive belt which turns the pump and causes it to pressurize the power steering fluid.
3. Rack and Pinion
This is a unit of components which cause the steering input from the driver to result in the turning of the two front wheels. The pinion gear is connected to the steering input shaft and pressed onto the steering rack. When the driver turns the steering wheel, it rotates the pinion and causes the rack to get pushed in the appropriate direction.
4. Fluid Reservoir
The power steering fluid is stored in a reservoir. You can easily check how much power steering fluid you have left in the reservoir indicator marks inside it. Just open the hood of your car, and it is easy to spot the power steering reservoir.
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5. Steering Arm
The steering arm is connected to the wheel hub assembly. When you turn the steering wheel, it is the steering arm which helps guide the wheel components accordingly.
The lines are how power steering fluid is transferred from one component to the next. Fluid travels within these lines to reach the next component.
7. Steering Wheel
You should already know what this is. As the driver, this is the one component of the power steering system that you have direct contact with. This is the big wheel in front of the driver’s seat which you rotate to make turns with your vehicle.
8. Tie Rods
These are the components which connect the steering rack and steering knuckles together. They assist with the force of turning the wheels when you turn the steering wheel.
9. Steering Knuckles
The two front wheels turns and pivots from the steering knuckles whenever you rotate the steering wheel.