Blog Car Care Advice 10 Practical Tips to Maintain Your Car Steering System
Car Care Advice

10 Practical Tips to Maintain Your Car Steering System

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Ever experienced the frustration of wrestling with your steering wheel? 
It might be time to give your power steering system some TLC.

Your power steering system enables you to glide effortlessly through every twist and turn. But when it falters, it’s not just about having to add a little extra muscle – it’s about preventing a cascade of problems that can turn your ride into a rocky road. 

Read on as we break down a car’s steering system and share expert maintenance tips to ensure every turn is as smooth as butter!

This Article Contains:

3 Types of Power Steering Systems Found on Modern Cars

Modern car steering systems (with power steering) can typically be classified into three types: 

1. Hydraulic Power Steering

It’s the oldest and most popular powering technology still in use. A pump pressurizes hydraulic fluid which, then, helps turn the steering wheel.  This reduces steering effort. A drive belt, which is connected to the engine, drives this power steering pump. 

2. Electric Power Steering (EPS)

As the name suggests, the electric power steering system uses an electric motor to assist your steering wheel. Many modern cars (especially electric vehicles) feature EPC as it needs less maintenance and integrates well with ADAS (advanced driver assist systems). 

3. Hydro-Electric Power Steering

This system is also known as Electro-Hydraulic Power Steering (EHPS). It combines the elements of the above two. In EHPS, an electric motor drives the hydraulic pump to pressurize hydraulic fluid for steering-assist.

EHPS systems offer improved fuel efficiency compared to a traditional hydraulic system and integrate better with driver assistance systems.

So, how can you maintain your vehicle’s power steering to optimal condition?
Keep scrolling to find out!

10 Effective Tips to Maintain Your Car Steering System 

These maintenance tips will help you keep your steering system running smoothly.

Note: Given that hydraulic power steering systems are the most prevalent type, we’ll focus on maintenance tips specifically tailored to this system.

1. Check for Low or Dirty Steering Fluid 

Keeping an eye on your power steering fluid level is key to ensuring your steering system is happy. 

First things first, pop the hood and locate that power steering fluid reservoir. If you’re having trouble finding it — your owner’s manual should have a handy diagram. 

Once you’ve got it, check the power steering fluid level about once a month, especially when your car is warmed up. That’s when you’ll get the most accurate reading. Your vehicle may also pop up a low steering fluid warning on the dash. 

Top it up as needed, and if your fluid looks grimy, consider having a mechanic flush it. Ideally, do this once every year.

But that’s not all.
Make sure you’re using high-quality steering fluid recommended by your car manufacturer.

This regular maintenance routine will help you catch a fluid leak early and prevent pricey repairs.

2. Change Power Steering Fluid Filter 

Just like your oil filter, your power steering filter needs a regular swap too. 

Here’s why:
As the steering fluid circulates through the steering system, the filter helps remove metal shavings and other impurities from the fluid. If left unchanged, it won’t be able to filter out any debris and would also exert more pressure on the power steering pump. 

That’s why you should ideally change the filter every year. 

3. Inspect High and Low-Pressure Hoses

The power steering hoses are like the arteries of your steering system. One hose supplies high-pressure fluid to the system, while the other carries low-pressure fluid back to the fluid reservoir. 

But like any other car part, these can wear out over time — resulting in leaks and diminished hydraulic pressure. 

It’s a good idea to check these hoses once or twice a year to prevent issues down the road. 

4. Test the Power Steering Pump for Damage

Both low fluid levels and contaminated hydraulic fluid can negatively affect your power steering pump

If you hear a whirring or whining sound from under the hood, that’s a signal to get your power steering pump tested and replaced if necessary.

5. Regularly Inspect the Drive Belt for Damage

The drive belt in a power steering system helps transfer power from the engine to the power steering pump. The drive belt also regulates the functioning of other systems, like air conditioning.

While inspecting the health of your power steering pump, also check that this belt has enough tension. You may need to adjust its tensioner or replace the belt if it’s worn out. 

6. Inspect Rack Steer Boots for Wear and Tear

Rack steer boots are protective covers that enclose the steering rack assembly in a vehicle’s steering system. Made of durable rubber or synthetic material, these boots shield the steering rack from contaminants such as water, dust, dirt, and road debris.

Damaged boots can allow water to seep in, causing rust on the steering gear. You should inspect these boots regularly for any signs of wear. 

7. Avoid Forced or Unnecessary Steering

Besides taking care of the steering parts, your driving habits can also impact the steering system. 

To keep your power steering assistance functional, treat it gently! 

Avoid sharp turns that push the steering wheel to its limit — it can strain the pump and lead to premature wear. And when you’re parked, keep the wheels straight to give your power steering system a break.

8. Steer Clear of Puddles

Avoid driving through deep puddles as they can damage the power steering system. They can contaminate the hydraulic fluid and cause corrosion of metal components. They harm your suspension system too!

If you encounter standing water, proceed cautiously and assess the depth before navigating through it. Do so at a steady pace to minimize splashing. But make sure to inspect for any signs of water ingress or damage afterward and have your vehicle checked by a mechanic if needed. 

9. Ensure Proper Wheel Alignment and Tire Rotation

Did you know uneven tire wear can affect your steering response? 

Here’s why:
Uneven tire wear can cause variation in traction and grip level across the tire surface. The vehicle then pulls to one side or feels unstable during cornering and maneuvering. 

Additionally, uneven tire wear can cause vibrations or shimmying sensations in the steering wheel, which can compromise your steering precision and comfort.

To prevent this, get your tires serviced at required intervals and ask the mechanic to rotate your tires for even wear. Also, ensure proper wheel alignment and get the same rim widths when buying new ones. 

Note: For FWD and RWD cars, always replace tires in pairs. However, for AWDs, all four tires should be replaced together to avoid straining the drivetrain. 

10. Additional Tips

Here are some other car maintenance activities for a healthy car steering system:

With the basics of steering system care under your belt, let’s address any extra queries next. 

3 FAQs on the Car’s Steering System

Here are answers to some common steering system-related questions: 

1. How Does a Vehicle’s Steering Mechanism Work?

The primary function of a vehicle’s steering system is to allow the driver to change the car’s direction when the steering wheel is turned. 

Your car does this by translating the rotation of the steering wheel into lateral movement of the front wheels. Components such as the steering wheel, steering column, steering gear, tie rod sets, and ball joints work together to form this steering linkage. 

Power steering systems add to this — reducing the driver’s steering effort, either through hydraulic fluid power assist, electric motor, or both.

2. What Are Common Steering Issues Drivers Face?

Some of the most common steering problems our technicians attend to are:

3. What Happens If the Power Steering System Fails?

A car with a failing power steering will require far more effort to turn the steering wheel, especially at low speeds or while parking.

Additionally, your steering response and precision will be compromised. This can lead to potential safety risks, especially in emergency situations or during sudden maneuvers. That’s why it’s essential to address power steering system issues promptly to avoid mishaps.

Steer Clear of Steering Troubles With Proper Car Maintenance 

Whether you go off-roading in a Land Rover or city-cruise in a Toyota, regular maintenance of your vehicle’s steering system is paramount for a safe and reliable driving experience. Regular inspections and upkeep not only catch potential issues early but also prevent costly repairs in the future.

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