The advent of technology has brought many practical innovations to the development of automobiles. For example, the addition of electronic fuel injection, electronic ignition, and computer-assisted fuel management systems have all helped improve engine operation’s overall efficiency.
However, vehicle owners often overlook an aspect of vehicle innovation, and it’s one that affects the driver directly—steering.
A New Direction in Driving
An unbelievably simple innovation, the steering mechanism is what directs the vehicle to where the driver wants it to go. Without the steering arrangement in place, cars cannot enter or exit on a freeway, change direction for a left or right turn, or make a sudden turn to avoid a crash. Vehicle steering comes in two central systems:
Rack and Pinion System – Rack and pinion steering are currently used on many of today’s cars. It involves a steering rack to transmit the steering wheel’s rotation to the steering gear, which is the part of the system that changes the wheels’ direction.
Reticulating Ball System – Reticulating ball steering is an innovative form of steering. Rather than using gears and linkages, the arrangement consists of a series of round balls and sockets. The sockets are attached to the outside of the wheels, while the balls are connected to the steering column. When the driver turns the steering wheel, the balls move the sockets, which operate the wheels.
The Advent of Power Steering
Over the years, steering has gone from a mere steering wheel attached to the steering gear to different steering systems put in place to create a more accessible drive and safer roads. However, the most significant of these developments is the introduction of power steering.
Created a century ago, power steering has helped millions of drivers maintain better control of their vehicles. It works by augmenting the amount of effort needed to turn the steering wheel to make it easier to turn or maneuver at lower speeds. Of course, century-old technology goes through some innovations, and today’s power steering has different types to choose from.
Hydraulic Power Steering (HPS) – The most commonly used form of power steering, hydraulic power steering uses a hydraulic pump to deliver pressurized hydraulic fluid to the power steering gear. It is then sent to the rack and pinion or the steering wheel. When the wheels need to be steered, the fluid is pushed to the power steering gear, turning the wheel in the direction of the applied force.
Electric Power Steering (EPS) – A motor is used to drive the steering wheel for cars with electric power steering. This type of steering is designed for cars with powerful engines. Electric power steering is often used for highway-focused vehicles.
Electro-Hydraulic Power Steering (EHPS) – Electro-hydraulic power steering is a combination of hydraulic and electric power steering systems. Both types of power steering are combined with an electric motor in the steering wheel. The hydraulic system controls the amount of power applied to the wheel, while the electric motor drives the wheel.
Steering Systems to Help You Go Forward
While it seems like a simple mechanism that many don’t pay much attention to, steering has helped save lives and make driving a lot easier and safer. From the original steering wheel system to electro-hydraulic power steering, steering has come a long way and continues to improve each passing year. Which direction do you think it will go next?
Learn more about the ins and outs of your vehicle by visiting your local mechanic or doing your own research online. If you need vehicle repair in Hoover, AL, visit Hoover Automotive, and we’ll steer your vehicle in the right direction.