Facts about steering systems
Rack-and-pinion is the most common steering system in late-model cars. It can be part of a hydraulic or electric power steering system. The steering rack, which is controlled by the steering wheel, directs the rod-operated linkages, which turn the wheels.
In a hydraulic power steering system, a high-pressure pump provides the required pressure.
Hybrid and electric vehicles use electric power steering systems, which are gaining in popularity because they reduce fuel consumption. Electric power steering can increase driving autonomy with new options, such as parking assistance.
Most vehicles today have a hydraulic steering pump that helps you steer. The pump is usually driven by the serpentine belt, but some newer vehicles have an electric pump.
Signs of a faulty steering system
Since steering requires the synchronization of many different parts, there are many signs of a faulty system. Here are some common signs:
- Loose steering, also called “free play”
- Uneven tire wear
- Knocking noises when hitting bumps
- Difficulty turning the wheel
- Steering wheel vibrations
- Vehicle wanders or pulls to one side
A well-maintained steering system is critical to the safe operation of your vehicle. Over time, pumps and motors will eventually wear out, and hoses will leak. It’s important to deal with these problems as soon as possible.
NAPA AUTOPRO tip
Prevent problems by having your NAPA AUTOPRO technician replace the old hydraulic fluid, which removes water and contaminants that can corrode power steering parts.
No matter the type of steering system in your vehicle, the steering rack, tie rods, ball joints, and core housings should be inspected on a regular basis.