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Q: How does power steering affect a car’s handling?

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How does power steering affect a car’s handling?

A: When considering the effects of power steer...

When considering the effects of power steering on a vehicle's handling it is important to realize that there are several types of power steering systems used in today's automobiles. While most vehicles in the past used a type of steering called a parallelogram or parallel link with a traditional steering box, pitman arm, and center and drag link, today's vehicles are usually guided by power rack and pinion systems. This new and efficient steering system design is quick, responsive, and has fewer moving parts than the traditional steering systems used in the past. Handling can be affected by many factors including tires, suspension, and steering. If you think you may be having problems with your car’s steering, look out for a few common symptoms of a failing steering rack.

Steering rack assemblies are connected to the vehicle frame by bushings or mounts. As these components wear with age, another concern which can lead to steering or handling issues is improper or loose mounting of the rack assembly. Because your rack and pinion system can be hydraulic or electrical, you may experience concerns with loss of power or assist which can lead to a shuddering while turning condition.

If problems arise such as leakage, loss of assist, excessive play, or mechanical failure that may lead to replacement of the steering assembly, information on requiring the replacement of your steering rack assembly can be invaluable. This information can get you heading on your way again while safely turning corners, changing lanes or avoiding potholes and other road hazards. Considering that all vehicles will eventually get up to speed, two critical factors should always be of main concern: stopping in a straight line and keeping directional control of your vehicle. Your vehicle's steering system meets the second concern.

Alignment and air pressure are, along with proper suspension system components, critical to the correct steering, handling, and effort necessary to safely drive your vehicle. In fact, modern cars which have vehicle stability systems integrated now use many different sensors to gauge direction and steering wheel position. Steering wheel angle sensors are used to calculate the angle of the wheel when turning to enable the computer to assist in steering correction to avoid conditions such as roll-over or oversteering. Get more information about these critical sensors and have them replaced if needed.

Keeping your vehicle's steering system in top condition ensures safe handling on today's demanding road conditions - whether on a city street or a super highway. Being in tune with your steering “feel” and seeking help as early as possible when you suspect a problem are the best ways to keep your car heading in the right direction while keeping costs down. Happy motoring!

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