Turning the steering wheel of your car seems simple, but a lot happens between your steering wheel and your car’s tires. This complex system relies on a number of processes in order to function properly. Nearly all vehicles today come with power steering, but if this system fails, it quickly becomes a safety issue. Typical steering and suspension services include wheel alignments, shock and strut repair and front and/or rear suspension repair.
Power Steering Pump
Cars today are heavy duty pieces of machinery—think about all the gears and gadgets it takes to move two tons of metal! So how is it that they are so easy to steer? Without power steering they wouldn’t be. A basic steering system operates by translating the rotational movement of the steering wheel into a directional shift in the wheels. As cars became heavier, however, the system required a little boost to generate enough force to direct the tires. Today, most vehicles are outfitted with power steering—a modified system that uses hydraulic pressure to assist the steering mechanism. Now when the steering wheel is turned, a valve releases highly pressurized fluid into the steering mechanism, helping to push it in the direction the driver is turning. The fluid is housed in a reservoir atop a pump that is continually churned by the engine to achieve high pressure levels. When the driver turns the steering wheel, a valve releases the now pressurized fluid into the steering mechanism. The pump has several seals to keep fluid from leaking when it travels between its reservoir and the steering gear.
Overtime, these seals become worn and fluid will begin to leak. Such leaks can go undetected but when fluid levels become low, it can damage the pump and other components in the steering assembly. Another common problem with steering pumps is a plugged screen. These pumps are outfitted with a screen that filters out contaminants from the fluid before it travels to the steering gear. Eventually, this screen can become plugged and will prevent fluid from flowing in and out. It will also inhibit the pump’s ability to create hydraulic pressure. When this occurs, you might notice that your power steering will be limited.
At Lake Norman, we recommend that power steering fluid be replaced in accordance with the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance schedule. Not doing so could result in costly damage to the other components of the steering mechanism. If you’re experiencing any difficulty steering, bring your car in as soon as possible. Although your vehicle will still be drivable without power steering, it won’t respond quickly in emergency situations. So whether you are having trouble steering or just want to have a scheduled maintenance, come by Lake Norman. Our service and repair center, located in Mooresville, NC, has the best tools and technicians to get you steering smoothly!
Power Steering Hoses
Power steering systems contain two hoses—a low-pressure hose and a high-pressure hose, both of which are made from a reinforced synthetic compound. The high-pressure hose, or the supply hose, sends pressurized fluid from the power steering pump to the steering gear. Conversely, the low-pressure hose, or the return hose, sends the same fluid back to the pump. Overtime, these hoses can develop leaks, so be sure to inspect them regularly–check for cuts and abrasions, stiffness, and rusted fittings. If you notice any of these conditions, the hoses should be replaced. Additionally, make sure that your power steering fluid is compatible with your vehicle’s hoses and seals. At Lake Norman, we recommend that you have your power steering fluid level and hoses checked at every oil change. Failure to catch low fluid levels or leaky hoses could result in costly damage to your vehicle’s steering pump. If you’re experiencing any issues or just want to have your steering mechanism inspected, come by our service and repair center, located in Mooresville, NC. Lake Norman takes pride in offering our customers quality service at the best possible price.
Not all tire wear is caused by a defect in the tires themselves. There are several other components of the vehicle that, when faulty, can result in premature tire damage. In particular, bad wheel alignment can result in uneven wear on your tires. In its most basic form, having correct wheel alignment means that all the wheels are pointing in exactly the same direction. Even if they’re off by a little, your car’s handling will suffer and you’ll begin to see more wear in your tires and suspension than you should.
If your vehicle is in need of an alignment, there are certain symptoms you will notice including, a need to correct your steering to stay in a straight line, a shaky steering wheel, a vibrating steering column, and uneven tire wear. The uneven wear on your tires can sometimes be a sign that your tires need to be rotated, but when combined with these other symptoms, it’s probably poor alignment.
Bad wheel alignment can be caused by a number of things, including running over potholes, accidents, hitting a curb, etc. Even if you haven’t experienced any of these situations, it’s a good idea to have your wheels aligned every 10,000 or once a year, whichever comes first.
When you bring your vehicle in to Lake Norman to have its alignment fixed, one of our mechanics will put a sensor on each tire to determine which ones need to be adjusted. Next, he will check the suspension for any damage, and replace any bad parts. And, once he’s made the necessary adjustments, he will test drive the car to make sure it worked. So, if you notice any of the symptoms above or just want to have an annual alignment, come by Lake Norman! Our service and repair center is located in Mooresville, NC.