Power steering helps a vehicle turn or maneuver. If it becomes disabled, you will need a great deal of muscle to steer. It is certainly widespread-90% of all cars on the road use power steering. It is easier to turn if you go over 25mph.
The power steering works by hydraulics, so if the fluid runs out you’re in trouble. Fluid issues include (a leak, a contamination or corrosion).
Power steering uses a rotary (or round) pump which works on a belt and pulley system. A series of gates or “vanes” turn, which forces the hydraulic fluid through an outlet at high speed. It is designed only to give assistance when the driver is placing pressure on the wheel and the car is in motion.
We are aware of the power assistance to steering, but technically what we experience is a quicker steering response and a steering wheel that returns to its original position more swiftly.
Potential changes to power steering:
Hy-wire by General Motors could be the latest upgrade to power steering. It is still based around hydraulic power but works on a fuel cell stack. To put it simply a computer decides how much pressure you need to drive and does the work for you. If this seems a bit like a fighter jet, there’s a good reason for that; such planes also use the technology.
But back to talking about hydraulic fluid…
Hydraulic fluid is a bright, maybe even a shocking pink in color so it very recognizable, pushing the piston and then the steering rack. It is helped by the ECU or Electric Control Unit which monitors direction, speed and effort of the steering wheel, factoring in your actual speed to change the direction of your wheels. So, there is a good reason to change the fluid regularly, if you regularly service your vehicle then there’s no sweat.
If you think there’s a problem with the power steering then check the fluid with a dipstick. It should be pink with a light smell to it. If it goes black that is due to an increase in O 2. If you discover a full reservoir after finding you have a steering problem, there’s not much you can do apart from calling a repair truck! Let them diagnose the problem.
How do you know you have a problem?
The most obvious sign is that it’s suddenly really hard to steer. Another sign of a power steering failure is a whining noise.
There is a liability issue if you don’t fix the problem you are likely to be sued. Unfortunately, the insurance company will not be able to cover the damage. This is why checking your engine is so vital.
What to do when there is a power steering problem:
So, what happens if the fluid does run out suddenly while you’re on the road? Well if you are having difficulty you shouldn’t be afraid to honk your horn or turn on your blinkers to tell other drivers. If you can it’s advisable to drive to a mechanic. Try not to slam on your brakes unless it’s a real emergency.