What is a Hydraulic Power Steering and How Does It Work?
One of the most sought-after features of a car is its ability to provide effortless steering. A power steering system was introduced to give drivers lighter steering control. Presently, the most popular version of this system is hydraulic power steering.
Keep reading to learn more about how this system works, its benefits and drawbacks.
What is a Hydraulic Power Steering System?
Hydraulic Power Steering is among the earliest power steering systems, comprising elements such as pumps, pulleys, drive belts, hoses, and fluid. All these components work together to deliver hydraulic force, helping you steer the wheels with power-assisted mechanics.
The system operates through a rotary vane pump, which helps generate hydraulic pressure. Thus, when you turn the steering wheel, the pump begins rotating, producing pressure that delivers significant force to help in steering effortlessly.
How does Hydraulic Power Steering Work?
Discussed below is the general working principle of this system:
- Step 1: As you turn the steering wheel, there is a hydraulic pump connected to the engine shaft that will begin forcing hydraulic fluid into the hydraulic chamber from the oil reservoir.
- Step 2: The hydraulic pressure in the chamber acts on the piston of the cylinder.
- Step 3: Next, the high-pressure fluid causes the rotor, pump shaft, and vanes inside the cam ring to rotate. These rotating components lead to a 90% increase in steering torque.
- Step 4: After that, the fluid is transmitted to the pinion, which subsequently transfers it to the rack gear, ultimately reaching the rotating front wheel.
- Step 5: The high torque transfer from the pinion to the front wheel happens through a coupling mechanism.
What are the Components of Hydraulic Power Steering Systems?
The primary components of a hydraulic power steering system are below:
- Hydraulic cylinder
- Hydraulic pump
- Oil reservoir
- Steering gearbox
What are the Benefits of Hydraulic Power Steering?
If you are wondering what hydraulic power steering is and why you should buy a vehicle with this feature, you should go through the below-mentioned benefits:
Reduced Steering Effort
Hydraulic power steering reduces the physical effort required to turn the steering wheel significantly, especially at low speeds and during parking. This makes it less strenuous for you to control the vehicle.
The system provides better control and responsiveness to your steering input, allowing for precise vehicle handling. With greater steering control, hydraulic power steering contributes to better stability, especially in emergency situations, thus enhancing overall vehicle safety.
Smooth Driving Experience
The amplified torque the hydraulic system provides results in smoother and more seamless steering movements. As a result, you can be sure of improved handling, cornering precision, traction and overall driving safety.
What are the Limitations of Hydraulic Power Steering?
Apart from the benefits, this system also brings along some inherent limitations. Find about them below:
Diminished Fuel Efficiency
Hydraulic power steering system requires energy to operate the pump, which draws power from the engine. This constant power consumption results in a slight reduction in fuel efficiency.
Higher Maintenance Cost
These components require regular maintenance and periodic fluid replacement to ensure proper functioning and prevent potential leaks. Moreover, the fluid must be replaced regularly, which adds to the overall maintenance cost.
The hydraulic power steering system is, thus, a crucial part that pressurises hydraulic fluid to provide extra power, improving the overall control and manoeuvrability of the vehicle. Therefore, it is crucial to keep a tab on its performance and take proactive measures in case of any issues identified.