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What is a Power Steering System in Cars?

  • Author :
  • TATA AIG Team
  • Published on :
  • 13/10/2023

We all enjoy a smooth ride. And a smooth ride does not only mean experiencing level roads with minimum hiccups but also with the way we drive. Did you know power steering can help provide you with a smooth and relaxing drive?

Technology has significantly impacted our everyday lives, and the automobile industry is no exception. Technological advancements have made cars safer and easier to drive.

One of the developments that had a major impact on how we drive is the car's power steering system. This technology was invented and demonstrated by an engineer named Francis W. Davis in 1926, and it is still being implemented (of course, with continuous advancements).

In simple language, power steering helps you exert less effort to turn your car's steering wheel. The system that revolutionises the driving experience assists you in steering wheels efficiently without much effort. Before the advent of this technology, the driver had to put in a lot of physical effort to manoeuvre the steering wheel in their cars.

What is a Power Steering Mechanism?

A car's steering system is one of its key components. It consists of different mechanical components that work in sync to enable the turning of the steering wheel by the driver, thus helping rotate the car's front wheels. A power steering system is a steering system which requires reduced effort to steer the wheel due to electric or hydraulic assistance.

Advantages of Power Steering System

Some of the advantages of a power steering system are:

  • Since it is a quick response system, it helps avoid danger and lets you take quick turns.

  • The effort required to steer the front wheels is reduced, thus making it less tiring for the driver.

  • Power steering can help control bumps more effectively.

  • It helps the driver adjust their steering speed depending on the road conditions.

  • After taking a turn, the steering returns to its original position, automatically straightening the car in motion.

Components and Working of Power Steering System

The main components of a power steering system, regardless of the type, include:

Steering mechanism: It is typically a rack and pinion steering mechanism wherein the rotation motion of the steering is converted into the transverse motion of the wheels.

Linkages: These are the mechanical aspects that offer motion between two components. Tie-rod linkages are used in power steering that connect the rack to the knuckle of the wheel.

Power device: A force-multiplying device is used to increase the steering wheel force for reduced steering efforts

Steering wheel: It is like an input device that provides rotational steering to manoeuvre the vehicle.

The power steering working may vary depending on the multiplying force device used.

The driver moves the steering wheel, which rotates the steering column along.

The rack and pinion also rotate and give direction to the wheels.

The pinion connects the steering column, and the rack is connected to the wheel hub with the help of tie-rods linkages.

Types of Steering Systems

Depending on the method used to multiply the steering force, there are three types of steering systems.

Hydraulic power steering: In this steering system, the effort required to rotate the steering wheel is reduced with the help of hydraulic assistance. The hydraulic pump supplies high-pressure hydraulic fluid, thus reducing the strength required to steer the car.

When the driver turns the steering, the hydraulic pump presses the fluid and transfers the driver's input force to the front wheels with the help of a rack and pinion mechanism. The hydraulic power steering system was the first type of power steering system introduced.

Electric power steering: This modern-day power steering method replaces the hydraulic component with electric sensors and motors. In the electric power steering system, when the driver steers the wheel, the sensors detect the signal and pass it on to the car's Electronic Control Unit (ECU).

After analysing the signal, the ECU sends it to the electronic motor. The electronic motor, powered by the car's engine, then provides the required torque to the rack to steer the front wheels.

Electro-hydraulic power steering: Also known as hybrid power steering, this system combines electric and hydraulic power steering systems.

The entire working of this system remains the same as the hydraulic system; just the hydraulic pump is replaced with an electric pump. Electro-hydraulic power steering is used in some heavy pickup trucks and other vehicles.

Difference Between Hydraulic and Electric Power Steering

Hydraulic Power Steering System  Electric Power Steering System
It uses hydraulic pressure generated by a pump for assistance Uses electric motor for steering assistance
Limited steering modes are available More steering modes available for customisation and responsiveness
Lower fuel economy as it requires continuous power usage. Better fuel economy as it reduced engine load
Maintenance is required to ensure fluid checks and no leakage Low maintenance required
Commonly used in heavy vehicles like trucks and SUVs Commonly used in small cars and standard vehicles
No need for engine power to maintain steering assistance Engine power is required to provide steering assistance

Power Steering Vs Normal Steering

Since we have learned about power steering, let us understand how it differs from manual steering. Both manual or normal and power steering are ways in which that guidance to the vehicle is powered. Below are the differences between power steering and normal steering.

Parameters Power Steering Normal Steering
What is it? Some source of power is used in steering the wheel Manual force is used for steering
Effort required Less More
Response Quicker response Comparatively slower
Resistance to wheel movement Less More
Safety Offer better safety Low compared to power steering
Controllability under critical situations Better Requires more effort
Common types Hydraulic power steering Electric power hydraulic steering (EPHS) Electric power steering (EPS) Worm and sector Worm and roller Worm and nut Rack and pinion

Can You Drive with Manual Steering?

Although it is not dangerous to drive without a power steering, it is for the ease of the driver to opt for. A manual or normal steering system requires the driver to put complete force when steering, thus may lead to driver fatigue. This also makes the steering process slower due to resistance.

Manual steering also doesn't work well due to poor shock absorbency while driving on uneven roads. Especially while travelling a longer distance, the system can be tiresome and cumbersome.

The power steering mechanism, on the other hand, reduces the effort on the driver, making your driving experience smoother.

Conclusion

The power steering mechanism has become a helpful system that aids the driver in steering the vehicle quickly by reducing the force required to turn the steering wheel. This ensures better comfort and stability.

Although we all give a lot of importance to the features attached to our car while purchasing, one crucial aspect is usually ignored- motor insurance. Regardless of whether the car is power steering, it is important to have valid four-wheeler insurance to make your car eligible to be driven on public roads.

This insurance covers the financial cost if your car or the third party's property gets damaged. Moreover, if your car is ever stolen, the insurance reimburses the cost.

Tata AIG, India's leading motor insurance provider, offers various online features to ensure easy purchase of the policies. Moreover, a feature like a car insurance renewal online also helps renew the policy on time without hassle. We offer various other benefits and holistic plans so that you can purchase the right insurance policy for your car.

FAQs

Where is power steering used?

The power steering system is used in various vehicles, including cars, SUVs, trucks and commercial vehicles. It has become one of the important features in a car or vehicle, especially for easy urban driving and low-speed steering. Alternatively, it is used in heavy vehicles which carry loads for efficient and comfortable steering control.

What are the types of power steering fluids?

A certain fluid is required depending on the power steering system. Mainly, three types of power steering fluids are available - Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF), Synthetic-Based Hydraulic Fluid and Universal Powering Steering Fluid. All these fluids have different specifications designed for

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