When we think of important systems in our vehicle, we usually think of the engine system, the transmission, fuel system and braking system. However, we forget what actually allows us to manoeuvre our vehicle’s tyres in whichever direction we want… the hydraulic steering system! We’re not just talking about the steering wheel, but the mechanisms that hide behind the scenes too, specifically the steering column.
What Is Its Purpose?
Without a doubt, the steering column is one of the sturdiest parts of your vehicle. When you’re handling the steering wheel, whether it’s to turn a corner or to make a slight adjustment to the position of your vehicle on the road, the column will transfer any movement to the steering gearbox, in turn allowing the vehicle to travel in the necessary direction. This is its primary function; however, some secondary purposes include:
- In the event of a frontal accident, the steering column is capable of collapsing, due to it being equipped with a rotating shaft specifically designed for this purpose. This is a necessity, as this action allows energy from the collision to be absorbed.
- It also serves as a mount for various other small components in your vehicle, such as the wiper switch, signal switch, ignition housing and headlamp dimmer switch.
- If your vehicle has a tilt steering column and you feel the steering wheel is too high or too low for you, it allows you to adjust it to whatever level you prefer. Therefore, the driver can make their driving experience more comfortable. Furthermore, if your column has a telescope mechanism, you can adjust how far or close the wheel is to you. It’s all about the driver’s comfort!
What Are The Symptoms Of A Faulty Steering Column?
Usually, when we discuss other components in a vehicle, you will hear us frequently mention wear and tear or maintenance. However, you shouldn’t really encounter many steering column issues, as it should survive without damage or need for repair throughout the lifespan of your vehicle. This is unless, of course, it has collapsed due to a heavy frontal collision or it’s become a little worn from frequent manoeuvring on snake-like roads. In the case it collapses, you should get a replacement fitted as soon as possible.
You should always keep an eye out for any symptoms that may indicate the imminent failure of the column:
- When you turn the steering wheel, movement feels restricted.
- When you’re halfway through a turn, your steering wheel binds, i.e. it feels heavier when you reach a certain angle. This is usually due to the universal joint in your column becoming old and worn.
- You notice the steering wheel feels loose when you manoeuvre it.
- When you turn the steering wheel, you hear high-pitched noises, for example, a squeaking noise.
- When you try to adjust the height of the steering wheel, the tilt mechanism doesn’t lock in place.
- The steering wheel doesn’t return to the centre.
During a steering column replacement or repair, great care should be taken as it should not be dropped, leaned on by any sort of material, or punctured at any of its ends. This is because damage may be caused to the internal components and in turn, this could cause a partial collapse of the column. If this goes unnoticed it will pose a great safety hazard to both the driver and the passengers of your vehicle and will need to be replaced immediately.
What If My Vehicle Has Electric Power Steering?
Compared to a traditional hydraulic steering system, electric power steering (EPS) systems eliminate the need for power steering fluid, pumps and hoses, and instead use an electric motor. Nowadays, EPS systems are becoming increasingly favoured, due to them not only delivering a smoother and more refined steering experience but also providing better fuel and energy efficiency.
An electric power steering column mounts your steering wheel and it houses sensors that measure the speed and position of the steering wheel, specifically a torque sensor that detects how much effort the driver is inputting. According to the data provided by the sensors, the engine control unit (ECU) will calculate the amount of assistive torque required and in turn, it will convey this data to the electric motor. The motor will then determine how much assistive steering force the reduction gears will have to apply.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Faulty Electric Steering Column?
There are a number of issues you could potentially encounter with your column, such as:
- Steering light illuminates on the dashboard
- Intermittent loss of power steering
- Heavy steering one way (or sometimes both ways)
- Failing to start
- Torque sensor fault
- Steering angle sensor fault
- Steering wheel vibrates when you turn the wheel
How Can Power Steering Services Help?
If any of these symptoms sound too familiar to you, this could be an indication of your electric column being damaged or faulty. In this case, you should book your vehicle in with Power Steering Services today! If you desire a direct replacement, we provide remanufactured units that do not require any coding, due to the fact that once they are fitted into your vehicle, they will self-calibrate. Also, a lifetime warranty is provided by us for your fitted part. Alternatively, whether you have electric or hydraulic power steering, if you choose to have your own column repaired, we will only use new and genuine OEM components, ensuring that your rebuilt electric power steering column meets and surpasses OE specifications! So, don’t delay repairing or replacing your column, as soon as you have the inclination that there are problems, act as soon as possible to avoid more extensive issues occurring!