First of all, what is a power steering flush? How does power steering even work? When you’re driving, the only time you might ever think about power steering is when it’s not working! Read on to learn a little bit about power steering, what it does, how it works, and why you might want to have a trusted technician perform a power steering flush.
What is power steering?
Power steering is the mechanism in your car by which you’re able to move your steering wheel with ease. In the old days (before the 50’s), the only way to steer the wheels of your car was to put your back into it. That’s right, all the weight of the wheels plus any kind of friction in your steering system was against you. It wasn’t until 1951 that power steering was invented. The early system was based on hydraulic pressure. We have now also developed hybrid-electric and electric power steering systems, which are much more energy efficient. Without going into too much detail, most steering is controlled by a rack and pinion system. Think of it as an upside-down T-shaped mechanism where the long part of the T is connected to your steering column (pinion), and the top of the T (the rack) sits across the bottom of your car and connects to both front wheels. Electric power steering has a motor that sits either on the rack or pinion and essentially “deals with” all of the heavy lifting involved in steering. Electric systems don’t use fluid, but hybrid systems and hydraulic systems have a pump that uses hydraulic pressure to put force into the system.
How does power steering work?
Since the only systems that use power steering fluid are those involving hydraulics, let’s talk about that! The major difference between a fully hydraulic and hybrid electric system is the pump. In a hydraulic system, a belt connected to the engine provides power to push fluid from the fluid reservoir. In a hybrid system, instead of a belt, an electric motor is used. The reason is that the belt runs along with the engine, so it is always using energy, regardless of when and how much power you need. The electric motor takes its cues from the steering wheel and other sensors and only provides power when, and in the amount you need. In both systems, a pump tells the fluid reservoir (home of the power steering fluid) to send fluid through a high-pressure hose to a housing unit that controls which direction the fluid causes the rack or pinion to turn. The fluid then exits back to the reservoir through a low-pressure hose.
To flush or not to flush?
Well, the best answer is to bring your car to a trusted mechanic and have them inspect it. The main reason for flushing power steering is to keep the system clean. Unlike other fluid-based systems in your car, this one is fairly close, so there isn’t a lot of opportunities for dirt or air to get in. The major problem that can occur with power steering has to do with particles from wear and tear within the system itself. Particles can cause the fluid to look dark or dirty, and the steering can become more difficult as valves are worn down by particles in the fluid. If you’re not sure about power steering flushes or don’t have the manual for your car, you can always give us a call at Advanced Auto Sports at (248) 479-3300 and one of our technicians would be happy to answer any questions you might have! You can also schedule an appointment here.