Most modern motor vehicles are built with a power assisted steering system. This is invaluable, especially in heavier, less manoeuvrable vehicles, where the effort required to steer the car would be excessive without it. For many years the majority of power assisted steering systems used hydraulic pressure to aid the operation of the steering wheel. However, electric power is now gaining considerable popularity as an alternative means of managing the power steering and the traditional mechanical steering rack is now being powered by an electric steering column.
A basic electric steering system will consist of a pinion shaft, a steering torque sensor, a rack and pinion housing, a ball screw mechanism, a steering rack, a drive belt and an electric motor to provide the power.
Many manufacturers and owners take the view that this technology has three main advantages over hydraulic systems. Firstly, it is felt that an electric steering column provides greater control. Secondly, it increases fuel efficiency. Finally, it is considered to be friendlier to the environment.
Furthermore, unlike the conventional hydraulically-assisted power steering system, electrical steering column systems have the capability of automatically reacting to motoring situations such as velocity, road conditions and even the manner of driving. There is also a reduced load on the engine and the system has greater reliability and durability.