One of the most important components in the steering system of any motor vehicle is the steering column. The primary function of a car’s steering column is to connect the steering wheel to the steering mechanism. This enables the steering system to translate the rotating movement of the steering wheel, as the driver steers the car, to the transverse movement of the vehicle’s wheels.
Although the operation of the steering system is the principle role of the steering column it also has secondary functions, which include housing the steering column electrical wiring, which is responsible for the operation of many of the vehicle’s accessories. The steering column also hosts a variety of column switches, including those that are used to operate the windscreen wipers, the headlights, the horn, the direction indicators, the screen washers and, in higher range vehicles, the audio system, cruise control system and onboard computer.
Most modern vehicles also have a steering lock, which is housed within the steering column and many vehicle models also have the facility to raise and lower the steering wheel, via a mechanism within the steering column, to suit the height of individual drivers. Finally, certain steering columns, especially on older vehicles, also hold the gear shift control lever.
The steering column is therefore a component with a variety of important functions.