Steering & Suspension
How a Car Suspension and Steering Works
The Power steering enables the driver to easily steer the vehicle in the direction he or she would like to proceed. It uses a system of hoses, hydraulic fluid, poor steering pump and a control unit among several other parts to easily steer the vehicle.There are several types of Power steering systems, however most vehicles today uses the Rack N Pinion system. In this system when the wheel is turned the pinion gear is rotated which affects the tie rod ends onto the spindles, thus moving the wheels in the desired direction.
The suspension system has two basic functions, to keep the car’s wheels in firm contact with the road and to provide a comfortable ride for the passengers, it does this by providing cushioning when the wheels go over uneven terrain and bumps. Over the years, each manufacture have continually striven to improve the ride by improving the suspension and “handling” of the vehicle, many of the higher end makes and models have electronic suspension thats controlled by the vehicle on board computer. Basically the springs support the body of the car evenly by compressing and rebounding with every up-and-down movement. This movement, however, causes bouncing and swaying after each bump and is very uncomfortable to the passenger. These undesirable effects are reduced by the shock absorber. These two main suspension parts combined with rubber bushings, sway bar bushings, pitman arm, control arms , inner and outer tie rod ends, link kit, rack N pinion, steering column, power steering hoses, pump and fluid, among others make up the steering and suspension.
Maintenance of Steering and Suspension
For vehicle suspension maintenance there is not much to do, except to keep all the lubricated parts properly lubricated. Eventually the parts especially the bushings will become worm and need to be replaced. How often this will need to be done depends on your drivings habits, conditions and the quality of parts used. Often the initial problem may only be the bushing or another relatively inexpensive part, but if left unattended will lead to more costly repairs. The best advise is to adhere to your vehicle manufactures recommendation or contact your mechanic should any of the issues listed below develop. The best way to maintain the power steering system of your vehicle is to regularly check the power steering fluid level and condition. This fluid is key to keeping the power steering pump, steering gear or rack and pinion assembly lubricated and is the hydraulic element of the power steering system. Low or contaminated fluid can damage any or all of these components. It is recommended to have leaks repaired if they arise, and to have the fluid flushed about every 50,000 miles to keep it clean from contaminant.
Common Suspension and Steering Problems
Excessive play or wandering in the steering, loose steering
Vibrations in the steering wheel
Pulling to one side
Unusual or squealing noise when turning the steering wheel
Power Steering Fluid leaks
Clunking or knocking
A steering wheel that will not return to the “center” properly
Heavy or unresponsive steering at low speeds or during parking lot maneuvers