The power steering greatly eases parking and other low-speed driving. It is a necessity for heavier vehicles that are not very strong. The power steering also helps with how your vehicle handles, as well as when you turn.
What it is
Power steering is pretty much what it sounds like. It is a power steering system helps the driver turn the wheels using hydraulic or electric power. The system may just provide a helpful push or it may do all the work itself in response to the motion of the steering wheel. Turning a vehicle with power steering requires less effort than it otherwise would.
Automotive power steering systems vary greatly in design, but a typical hydraulic setup includes several parts. A sensor attached to the steering wheel will detect force or torque. The system knows when the driver turns the steering wheel and the car’s wheel haven’t caught up yet, so the system can provide assistance when it is needed.
Power steering pump
A pump, driven by the car’s engine, is to raise the pressure in the power steering fluid up to as much as 100 times atmospheric pressure. A collection of valves that direct the high-pressure fluid through hoses or metal tubes to one side or the other of the steering system according to how the steering wheel has been turned. Actuators with which the high-pressure power steering fluid helps push the front wheels to one side or the other.
Why it fails
Reasons for power steering failure can be caused by several things. Fluid loss, from a slow or sudden leak can be one of the main causes. You may also notice that the pump fails, if your system is hydraulic. Another sign is a loss of power. This can be because of engine failure or because of loss of power to the steering system alone.
If your steering goes out it can become very difficult to steer the vehicle. A steering system that is designed to operate with power assistance is not meant to be driven without that power. A drag in the system can be surprisingly hard to turn the wheel when this happens. If it happens when you’re traveling at high speed, the result can be frightening because it may feel like you’ve lost steering control. Make sure to stay calm, and pull over when it is safe to do so.