Power steering makes use of electric or hydraulic power to make turning the front wheels easy. It helps you turn your car or make maneuvers easily, even at low speeds. Since their introduction in the nineties, power steering has been a great help in curbing road accidents.
So, can you drive without power steering? Yes. However, it is not advisable since you will increase the damage, especially if you are traveling far. Though it is not illegal, you can save yourself a lot of grief by fixing or replacing your damaged power steering system. A vehicle with faulty power steering will only make smooth turns when moving fast, and it will be difficult to make quick maneuvers or park at slow speeds.
Types of Power Steering Systems
Different car models come with power steering systems based on the manufacturers and their customer base. However, some components are standard in all basic power steering systems. They include the steering wheel, power steering pump, steering gear, steering column, power steering hoses, and the steering coupler. There are three main power steering systems that you can choose from to improve the handling of your vehicle.
Electronic Power Steering System
Electronic power steering is the most common system in modern vehicles, thanks to how effective and quick it is. It replaces the hydraulic system with electric sensors and motors and uses power from your vehicle’s battery to control its steering.
Electronic power steering is connected to other vehicle components to improve comfort, safety, and convenience. It also forms part of the automotive revolution and could be used in self-driving vehicles.
Hydraulic Power Steering System
The hydraulic power steering system uses hydraulic cylinders and engine power to multiply the force you use to turn. It helps reduce the effort required to turn your vehicles’ front wheels.
The hydraulic cylinders contain highly pressurized hydraulic fluid to apply pressure on the steering gears. The fluid flow increases when you apply torque to the steering wheel and steering column. It exerts more force to turn the front wheels in the desired direction.
Electro-Hydraulic Power Steering System
The electro-hydraulic power steering system is a hybrid system. It is made up of a rotary hydraulic pump that is not driven by the engine but instead by an electric motor.
It goes a long way in making it more dependable and helps regulate the energy to avoid wastage. The electro-hydraulic power steering system is only used in a select group of vehicles such as heavy-duty pickup trucks.
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What Causes Power Steering System Damage?
Driving a modern car without a fully functioning power steering system can be very uncomfortable and risky. It is because, with a damaged power steering system, swerving to avoid crashing becomes difficult.
Several factors can cause your power steering system to get damaged. They include contaminated fluid, broken belts, excessive force, and damaged steering pumps. The good news is several signs can give you an early warning when your steering power system is failing.
Signs of Failing Power Steering
There are several ways to determine whether there is a problem with your power steering. The following are things you should look out for.
Groaning and whining sounds are an indication that your vehicle’s power steering system is malfunctioning. These noises can be caused by a lack of adequate steering fluid, which causes friction in the power steering system. A knocked-out bearing could also be the cause of abnormal noise. If your car starts making strange noises whenever you steer or accelerate, you need to check your power steering.
Power Steering Fluid Leakage
Power steering fluid plays a significant role in the system. You should address any pump problems early to avoid more problems down the road. The pump starts to leak when it sustains physical damage. The damages are mainly caused by the pump’s aging and wear and tear.
Lack of sufficient power steering fluid messes with the pinion and rack making it hard to function correctly. It will cause issues with your vehicle’s power steering system.
To determine whether the power steering fluid is leaking, you should make a habit of checking its level. The fluid storage contains markings of different levels to help you know when it is time to add more liquid.
Next, you need to listen for any squeaking noises when starting up your vehicle. These noises can result from the power steering pump functioning poorly or the accessory belt getting loose. With these two components damaged, squealing noises can also be heard when you take sharp corners. If you prefer replacing the power steering pump yourself, first ensure that your accessory belt is appropriately adjusted.
Steering Fluid Color
Another thing to watch out for is the color of your power steering fluid. Whenever you are checking the level of the power steering fluid, always check whether its color has turned gray. A gray hue means that the fluid is rusty, and it will not perform as well as the clear steering fluid.
The steering fluid changes color mainly due to too much air making its way into the storage tank. Defective power steering pumps are the leading cause of rust and color change in power steering fluids.
Slow Power Steering Reaction
The power steering system is designed to make steering easy, especially when taking sharp turns. Power steering makes it relatively easy for you to steer, and if your vehicle is giving you a hard time, then there is a problem.
If you are using a lot of effort to turn a corner, you need to get your power steering pump checked as soon as possible. Avoid postponing minor problems because they become bigger and more expensive to fix over time.
Is It Dangerous to Drive Without Power Steering?
There are several reasons why you could be driving without a fully functioning power steering system. However, it can get dangerous depending on how severe the issue is. The danger comes in when you have to take a sharp turn to avoid crashing into something or someone.
If you get into an accident due to faulty power steering, you will likely be charged with negligence. Your insurance company may also take advantage of this and refuse to cover any damages to your vehicle.
A defective power steering system lacks proper steering fluid. The fluids help keep the components of your power steering system well lubricated to avoid overheating and wearing over time. Driving even short distances with a faulty power steering system can cause unnecessary damage.
Before taking your vehicle to a mechanic, find a secluded area to test your power steering system. When driving in a straight line, you can tell when your car is swaying from side to side. It could be an alignment problem or a faulty power steering system.
Also Know: Is Power Steering Fluid Flammable?
Can You Turn Without Power Steering?
Your ability to turn your vehicle without power steering will depend on factors such as the model of the car you are driving and your speed. Without power steering, turning at a low speed can be difficult. Therefore, you must keep your vehicles’ power steering system in peak conditions at all times.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Power Steering
Taking proper care of your car’s power steering system is vital, and you should always check it before heading out. The following are some of the advantages and disadvantages of power steering:
- Reduces driver fatigue on long drives
- Provides accurate and controlled turning while on the road
- Makes turning the steering wheel at a lower speed relatively smooth
- Improves stability and eases vehicle handling
- Power steering is more costly than manual steering
- Prone to fluid leakage issues
- Complex system
The use of power steering is necessary and convenient, especially in modern vehicles. Making good use of your power steering system will help you avoid dangers such as accidents and lawsuits. It also makes your drives more enjoyable due to effortless and accurate road control.
So, can you drive without power steering? Yes, you can, but it is not advisable. Driving with a faulty power steering system can cause damage to your vehicle. If you suspect that your car’s power steering system may be flawed, it is best to fix it immediately.