Modern vehicles have a power steering column to assist drivers in maneuvering their vehicles with ease and precision.
There are different types of power steering columns. With each type offering distinct advantages and features to cater for specific driving needs. These are inclusive of:
- Hydraulic power steering column.
- Electric power steering column.
- Electro-hydraulic systems.
Understanding the various types of power steering columns is vital. Firstly, hydraulic power steering columns utilize fluid pressure to assist in steering turning.
Secondly, electric power steering columns rely on an electric motor for steering assistance.
On the other hand, electro-hydraulic systems combine both hydraulic and electric technologies for enhanced performance.
Sometimes drivers need to make informed decisions about which type of power steering column best suits their vehicle requirements.
Therefore, its helpful to familiarize oneself with these different options. Choosing the appropriate system ensures a smoother driving experience in relation to improved handling or reduced effort during maneuvers
What does a steering column do?
The steering column is a crucial component that connects the steering wheel to the rest of the steering system.
It plays a vital role in ensuring smooth and controlled maneuverability of a vehicle. In this section we’re going to explore its functions amongst other important areas in more detail.
Transmitting driver input.
At its core, the primary function of a power steering column is to transmit input from the driver to control the direction of the vehicle.
When you turn your steering wheel, it initiates a series of mechanical actions within the column. Therefore, the column will translate your steering wheel movements into changes in wheel alignment.
This mechanism ensures that your car responds accurately and promptly to your commands.
Steering column connects directly with other essential parts of the steering system. For example, tie rods and rack-and-pinion assemblies.
It facilitates precise control over your vehicle’s path by transmitting driver inputs to the wheels.
Maneuvering would become challenging and unsafe without an efficient and properly functioning steering column.
Components housed by the steering column.
The steering column not only serves as a structural link between the driver and the wheels but also houses several important components. These include:
a). Ignition switch.
The ignition switch is usually located on the steering column. Sometimes in the case of a locked sterring wheel, you notice that the engine ignition cannot take place.
That’s because of the connection between the ignition switch and the steering column. Its location allows the driver to start or stop the engine.
b). Turn signal lever.
Positioned conveniently on the column near the steering wheel. The function of this lever is to enable drivers to indicate their intention to turn or change lanes.
c). Steering wheel.
The steering wheel connects the driver’s intentions with the vehicle’s steering system. Therefore, allowing the driver to control the direction towards which the vehicle moves.
d). Steering shaft.
This system has a steering shaft that’s a connection between the steering wheel and the steering gear or rack.
It transmits the rotational input by the driver from the steering wheel to the rest of the steering system.
e). Universal joints.
Universal joints in the steering column function as the name suggests. Joints allow for flexibility within the connection between the steering wheel and the steering shaft.
These flexibility agents accommodate changes in steering wheel alignment and angle. Therefore, permitting the driver to change vehicle direction.
Column assist electric power steering technology.
Column assist electric power steering (EPS) technology provides improved handling and fuel efficiency. EPS uses an electric motor mounted on or near the steering column to assist with turning efforts.
This technology offers variable assistance based on driving conditions. For example, cornering, weather conditions, slippery roads amongst others.
This feature of the electronic power steering technology enhances the overall driving experience.
1). Electronic power steering assist.
This column assist utilizes an electronic power steering system to provide assistance to the driver during turns.
The need for hydraulic fluid and traditional mechanical components is eliminated by employing an electric motor.
Hence resulting in a more efficient and responsive steering system.
2). Improved handling.
With column assist EPS, drivers experience enhanced handling capabilities and better responsiveness.
The electric motor assists in reducing the effort required to turn the wheel. This provides a smoother and more controlled maneuvering experience.
This feature is particularly beneficial when navigating tight corners or parking in crowded spaces.
3). Fuel efficiency.
Another advantage of column assist EPS is its positive impact on fuel efficiency. We all know that putting more stress on the engine increases fuel consumption.
Therefore, this system reduces the load on the engine which leads to improved fuel economy. This is because of the use of an electric motor instead of relying solely on engine power for steering assistance.
This can be especially advantageous during city driving or stop-and-go traffic situations.
4). Variable assistance based on driving conditions.
Column assist EPS technology adapts its level of assistance according to different driving conditions. For example, race truck, highway driving or off-road amongst others.
At lower speeds, such as during parking maneuvers, it provides greater assistance for easier maneuverability.
Importance of columns in EPS systems
Columns in electric power steering systems (EPS) are essential components that serve multiple crucial functions:
1). Housing key components.
The primary role of columns in EPS systems is to provide a secure housing for vital components. For example, sensors and control modules.
These are the components that are responsible for detecting and interpreting driver inputs. Hence ensuring smooth operation of the power steering system.
2). Structural support.
Another critical function of columns is to offer structural support for mounting electric motors used in EPS technology.
These motors assist in providing the necessary power assistance to the steering system. Hence enhancing maneuverability and ease of steering.
3). Signal transmission.
Properly functioning columns facilitate the accurate transmission of signals between driver inputs and electronic controls.
This seamless signal transfer ensures that the power steering system responds precisely to the driver’s commands.
Therefore, you need a steering column that’s in a good condition for enhanced control and safety while driving.
What causes steering column to go bad?
A steering column is an essential component in any vehicle’s steering system. Over time, it may develop issues that affect its functionality and performance.
Understanding what causes a steering column to go bad can help drivers identify potential problems before they escalate and take the appropriate action.
1). Wear and tear.
One common cause for a bad steering column is wear and tear over time. As the vehicle racks up miles, the constant movement and vibrations can take a toll on the various parts of the steering column.
The continuous use eventually leads to degradation, resulting in reduced efficiency or even failure. In a hydraulic steering system, wear and tear over time also leads to a faulty power steering pump is responsible.
However, within the electric motor power steering technology, the wear and tear causes a faulty motor.
2). Applying too much force during turns.
Excessive force applied during turning maneuvers can also contribute to a deteriorating steering column.
When drivers exert too much pressure while making sharp turns or sudden movements, it puts additional strain on the components within the column assembly.
This excessive force can cause damage, leading to difficulties in maneuvering the vehicle smoothly.
3). Faulty components.
In some cases, faulty components within the steering column assembly itself may be responsible for its deterioration.
Whether due to manufacturing defects or wear and tear of individual parts, these faulty components can compromise the overall functionality of the entire system.
Identifying and replacing these damaged parts promptly is crucial to maintaining safe driving conditions.
Steering column assembly.
The steering column assembly is a crucial component of a vehicle’s power steering system. The component parts of the steering column include shafts, bearings, brackets, and wiring harnesses.
These elements work together to ensure the smooth operation of the entire steering system.
The steering column assembly plays a vital role in transmitting input from the driver to the wheels.
Furthermore the steering column connects various components such as the steering wheel, intermediate shaft, and rack-and-pinion gear mechanism.
Here are some key points about this essential automotive component:
1). Multiple parts.
The column assembly comprises several parts that contribute to its functionality. The various steering column components play specific roles that contribute to functionality.
- Shafts that transmit rotational force.
- Bearings that facilitate smooth movement.
- Brackets for support and attachment purposes.
- Wiring harnesses for electrical connections.
The steering column assembly integrates different elements of the power steering system. Hence acting as a link from one component part to another.
Firstly, it connects the steering wheel to the intermediate shaft. Secondly it links the steering wheel with the rack-and-pinion gear mechanism.
This integration ensures synchronized movement and efficient transfer of control inputs.
3). Smooth operation.
A well-assembled steering column guarantees smooth operation of the entire power steering system.
The proper lubrication and alignment of the steering column components minimizes friction. This enables precise control over vehicle direction while reducing effort exerted by the driver.
Steering column bushing
The steering column bushing plays a crucial role in the smooth operation of the entire power steering system.
a). Reducing friction and vibration.
These bushings are typically made of brushed steel or steel. They usually act as cushions between different parts of the column assembly for the purpose of reducing friction and vibration.
b). Maintain proper alignment.
Another key function of these bushings is to help maintain proper alignment of the steering column components.
Hence reducing the chances of experiencing a locked steering wheel while improving the ease of steering the vehicle towards your desired direction.
c). Harmonious functioning of the steering components.
The steering column bushings also provides stability and support to a lot of interconnected parts. If the bushes are in a good condition, they ensure that the various parts work together harmoniously.
Which allows for precise control over the vehicle’s direction.
Worn out or faulty steering column bushings.
However, over time, bushings can wear out or become damaged due to regular use or external factors. When this happens, several issues may arise.
i). Excessive play.
Excessive play and shaking is one of the common symptom of a faulty steering wheel. In some cases it usually results from worn or damaged bushings.
It usually means that there is unwanted movement and looseness in the steering system which is felt by the driver on the steering wheel.
This symptom leads to imprecise steering response and is a safety hazard.
To address this problem effectively, it is important to inspect and replace worn-out bushings promptly.
Regular maintenance and inspection can help identify any signs of wear before they cause more significant problems.
Steering column bearings.
Steering column bearings play a vital role in ensuring the smooth movement of the rotating components within the power steering column.
These bearings not only reduce friction but also provide stability during various steering maneuvers.
When these bearings become damaged or worn, they can have detrimental effects on the overall performance of the vehicle steering system.
Stiffness, noise, and even complete failure may occur as a result of faulty steering column bearings.
It is crucial to address any issues with the steering column bearings promptly to maintain optimal functionality.
a). Support for rotating components.
The primary function of these bearings is to support the rotating parts within the power steering column.
Therefore, this allows for seamless movement and prevents the excessive wear and tear.
b). Friction reduction.
Steering maneuvers require minimal resistance for smooth operation when turning the steering wheel. The bearings help reduce friction between moving parts of the steering system.
This enables effortless turning of the steering wheel.
c). Enhanced stability.
Stability is essential especially during sharp turns or sudden changes in direction. Steering column bearings provide stability by minimizing unwanted movements and vibrations.
The minimized movements and vibrations also offer a comfortable ride for the driver. Unwanted movements pose a safety threat by reducing vehicle responsiveness.
To ensure your power steering system operates at its best, it’s important to be aware of potential signs of bearing problems.
Common steering column bearings issues.
- Stiffness while turning the wheel.
- Unusual noises during steering.
- Irregularities in your vehicle’s handling
Steering column control module.
The steering column control module plays a crucial role in the functioning of the power steering system.
It receives signals from various sensors whenever there is a driver’s input. Afterwards, it processes the signals to determine the appropriate power assistance levels for the driver.
Here are some key points about the steering column control module:
1). Signal processing.
The control module is responsible for processing signals from some vehicle sensors. For example, the torque sensor, vehicle speed sensor, and wheel position sensor.
Afterwards, these inputs are accurately assessed to determine the amount of power assistance required.
2). Motor regulation.
Based on the driver’s inputs and prevailing driving conditions, the control module regulates the operation of the electric motor within the electric power steering system.
This regulation by the control module assists with steering by improving responsiveness at low efforts.
It ensures that the motor provides adequate assistance during maneuvers like parking or low-speed turns while adjusting responsiveness at higher speeds.
3). Malfunctioning consequences.
If there is a malfunction in the control module, it can lead to erratic behavior of the power steering. Firstly, this tends to manifest as sudden changes in steering effort.
Furthermore, you will notice the situation become worse leading to a complete loss of power assistance.
Such issues compromise vehicle handling and safety, necessitating prompt repairs or replacement.
It is essential to maintain and periodically inspect both the power steering system and its control module to ensure optimal performance.
Regular servicing by qualified technicians helps with identifying potential problems early on. Hence preventing more significant issues down the line.
Addressing any concerns related to power steering promptly not only enhances driving comfort but also contributes to overall road safety.
Steering column lock guard.
The steering column lock guard is a vehicle security feature. Its primary purpose is to prevent unauthorized access to the vehicle by locking the steering column when the ignition is off.
This security feature in some automatic vehicles goes to the extent of locking steering and brake so that you cannot even engage the gear to drive off.
This added layer of protection acts as a powerful deterrent against theft attempts.
With the lock guard in place, it’s usually impossible for potential thieves to steer the vehicle without the proper authorization.
This feature ensures that even if someone manages to gain access to the interior of the car, they won’t be able to drive away with it.
A properly functioning lock guard brings peace of mind to vehicle owners, knowing that their valuable asset is well-protected.
It significantly reduces the risk of car theft and increases overall security by immobilizing the steering column.
Power steering column problems.
Below we are going to look into what you should expect whenever you’re going through challenges with your power steering column.
The points in this section should prompt you to take corrective actions if you notice something is not right.
It may be an indication that your power steering column requires attention.
Some symptoms relate to two different problems therefore you will have to perform further investigations.
For example, steering noise could relate to both power steering fluid issues and steering column issues.
1). Difficulty in turning the wheel.
This is a problem that highly relates to a loose steering wheel or inadequate fluid. Additionally, in some occasions, the steering wheel usually feels stuck.
Therefore, you have to use much more effort when turning it. A stiff or unresponsive steering wheel could indicate a problem with the power steering column.
This could make maneuvering your vehicle more challenging, especially at low speeds or when parking.
2). Unusual noises.
The difficulty in turning the wheels is closely followed with unusual noises. This noise made during operation is a common sign of power steering column problems.
If you hear strange noises, such as squealing, whining, or groaning sounds when turning the wheel, there may be an issue with the power steering system.
These noises often indicate a lack of fluid or a malfunctioning component within the column.
3). Vehicle electrical issues.
There are several causes of vehicle electrical system issues which interfere with the performance of vehicle electronics.
Electrical issues within electric power steering systems usually lead to unpredictable power assistance levels.
Inconsistent power assistance caused by electrical problems within electronic power steering (EPS) systems can cause fluctuations in power assistance levels.
You might experience sudden changes in how much effort is required to turn the wheel, leading to an unpredictable driving experience.
This causes variations in the ease drivers experience when turning the steering wheel. Timely diagnosis and repair are crucial for maintaining safe and reliable vehicle handling.
Power steering column problems can cause significant inconvenience and compromise the safety of your vehicle.
It is important to consult a qualified mechanic who can accurately diagnose the specific issue affecting your power steering column.
When you seek professional diagnosis, they will have the expertise and tools necessary to identify any underlying problems.
This is the best way to address these power steering column problems effectively.
Symptoms of bad steering column.
When your vehicle power steering column has an issue, you will notice the following symptoms.
1). Excessive play in the steering wheel or a loose feeling while driving.
2). Inconsistent response to input.
3). Another common symptom of a bad steering column is leaking fluid.
4). Unusual clunking or grinding noises around the steering column may indicate underlying issues with the column assembly.
In order to prevent further damage promptly address any signs of a bad steering column
What happens if steering column fails.
Steering column failure has serious consequences for the driver’s ability to control the vehicle.
1). Loss of control.
One of the most immediate effects of a failed steering column is the loss of control over the direction of the vehicle.
Without a functioning steering column, it becomes extremely difficult, if not impossible, to steer the car or truck. This can lead to accidents and potentially dangerous situations on the road.
2). Affects other vehicle components.
A failed steering column can also affect other important functions within the vehicle. For example, many modern vehicles have integrated systems that rely on signals from the steering column to operate properly.
For example, power-assisted braking and stability control. These systems may not function correctly or at all, when the steering column fails.
Which further compromises your road safety.