What are Steering Systems?
Unlike trains, which have a choice of going forwards or backwards, automobiles are more flexible, forwards, backwards, left, and right. Various steering systems have been used over the years, but most vehicles today feature some kind of power steering system. The steering system’s purpose is to convert rotary motion, from the steering wheel, to linear motion, pushing the front wheels left and right.
Today, most cars and light trucks and SUVs use hydraulically-assisted rack-and-pinion steering systems. Hybrid and electric vehicles, as well as some conventional vehicles, use electrically-assisted rack-and-pinion steering. Rack-and-pinion steering offers better steering feel and has fewer moving parts to wear out. Some light SUVs and most heavy SUVs and trucks still use an older technology, hydraulically-assisted recirculating ball steering, which is more powerful and resilient.
Why are Steering Systems Important?
Of course, without steering systems, we could only go in straight lines, and anyone who drives in St. Louis knows that few straight lines make up the average commute. Because of their importance and complexity, attention needs to be paid to steering systems on all vehicles. These many moving parts include the steering gear, steering wheel and intermediate shaft, power steering pump or electrical system, and even parts of the front suspension, such as ball joints, MacPherson struts, and tie rod ends.
The most common steering system problem is power steering fluid leaks, which can make a mess of your driveway, as well as result in increased steering effort and difficulty maneuvering. In extreme leak cases, we’ve seen power steering pumps keep an engine from starting. The power steering pump is mounted on the engine, driven by one or more drive belts, and connected to the steering gear by tubes and hoses. Because they’re exposed to the elements, tubes can corrode and leak, and hoses can degrade and crack. Seals in the steering gear can degrade and leak, as well.
As with all mechanical systems, wear can occur in steering systems over time, leading to “loose” steering feel, or wandering or drifting on the highway. Loose steering is more common on recirculating ball steering, but both steering systems have usually have a way to adjust steering gear lash to compensate and restore steering stability and feel.
What can Dobbs Tire & Auto Centers Do for You?
No matter what steering system your vehicle is equipped with, whether a commuter with hydraulic rack-and-pinion steering, a hybrid with electric rack-and-pinion, or an SUV with hydraulic recirculating ball steering, Dobbs Tire & Auto Centers has the experience you need to keep it working right. Our ASE certified expert technicians have the training, tools, and experience to identify, maintain, diagnose, and repair steering systems on almost every vehicle on the road.
“You Can Depend on Dobbs” – Dobbs Tire & Auto Centers, Home of the Fixed Forever Service Warranty. Locally and Family Owned Since 1976