The Complicated World of Power Steering

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Most of us think we know what power steering is – some kind of additional help needed to steer – but it’s actually a bit more complicated than that. It is all about making the whole process of steering easier. Without power assist, a car needs a great amount of pressure to steer it. Having some assistance means it is less of a strain.

Oddly enough the physical weight of the vehicle impacts how hard it is to force those tires to move sideways instead of rolling forward. Therefore, the reasons behind power steering come from the fact that cars and trucks are getting heavier and heavier, making them in turn difficult to manoeuver. The good news is that we haven’t run into any studies which suggest that drivers have become weaker.

What is the power behind power steering? Quite simply, hydraulics. But it’s too simple to stop there. For one thing, you need the engine on to use hydraulics. Without that the hydraulics actually work against the driver has to muscle the works of that system on top of shoving the tire against the friction of the rubber and road. The answer to that is to create a system that lets the car operate manually when there isn’t the power to the hydraulics. The way to switch between manual and power steering needs to be thought out in the design phase, every car uses a slightly different system.

The physical item which operates the power steering is known as an actuator. It’s basically a cylinder which moves thanks to hydraulics.

The Most Recent Advances:

Most recent improvements chalk up to tweaks to what already worked, BUT one advanced type of power steering has immerged–called “drive by wire” (also known as “steer by wire” or “brake by wire”) Created for off-road vehicles to make them less likely to break down due to jarring. The problem with this type of steering is that might be possible to hack from an outside force. But it can also be controlled by game controllers and laptops given the right type of alterations. Because you don’t need as many physical components as the usual type of power steering you cut down on weight. There are different systems in place for braking, parking and so on in these kinds of vehicles.

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Brief History:

Surprisingly power steering dates back to the very early days of the automobile. In 1876, a carriage builder named Jeantaud created a special type of steering operation where the wheels operated in parallel. These pieces are now known as the Pitman and the Idler arms and are found in all vehicles. Without them no steering – manual or otherwise – could take place.

Prior to this gear, drivers were forced to apply so much pressure to the wheel that they struggled to judge the right steering pressure to the speed at which they moved. Often the result was vehicle tip at relatively low speed.old-1184126__340

The creation of a steering gear meant less pressure on the steering wheel. The steering gear used by Henry Ford didn’t become the pattern for later designs, probably because the worm gear is ultimately a better design. The worm (steering) gear got it’s name from worm roller it drove.

Power steering by computer also goes back further than you might think; to be precise a Toyota Cressida built in 1985. It was called by the complicated name of Progressive Power Rack and Pinion Steering, making it sound more like a streetcar than an automobile.

In Conclusion:

Perhaps the most surprising thing about power steering is that not all cars have it. It seems that it is still a luxury to some drivers.

 

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