The steering gear is the central component of a car’s steering system. The steering gear is responsible for transferring the motion of the steering wheel to your car’s wheels. This, along with power steering (if applicable), allows for optimal handling and better steering with less input from the driver.
Steering gear types
The two kinds of steering gears are:
- Rack-and-pinion – This is the steering gear type for almost all regular cars. It uses a component called a pinion gear that is attached at the end of the steering column. The pinion gear turns as you turn your steering wheel, which then allows the rack gear to move as needed. This transfer of motion then moves the steering linkage that controls the steering knuckle and wheels. Rack-and-pinion steering systems allow you to turn with less motion from the steering wheel.
- Recirculating ball – Utility vehicles, trucks, and some vintage vehicles utilize a recirculating ball steering system. The design involves a worm gear and several ball bearings inside of a steering box. These components allow for less friction in between the gears. You will generally be able to turn the steering wheel much further in a recirculating ball steering system. This type of system is especially helpful for large trucks carrying heavy loads.
Power steering types
Power steering helps reduce the amount of effort you need to put into turning. There are two types of power steering systems:
- Hydraulic – Hydraulic power steering systems is more common in older vehicles. They utilize a belt- or gear-driven pump that pressurizes the hydraulic fluid necessary to help you turn the steering wheel.
- Electric – Modern cars will typically be outfitted with an electric power steering system. These system utilize an electronic motor to provide steering assistance. This motor will also shift the steering gear left or right depending on the input from the torque sensor.
Signs of a Bad Steering Gear
- Grinding noise when steering – A faulty steering gear will often result in some noise. This is due to the wear on the inner components allowing for too much room between them.
- Binding in the steering wheel – Worn steering gear components will often make turning the steering wheel feel more difficult.
- Loose steering – typically caused by loose components within the steering gear.
- Car drifts to one side – A damaged steering gear can cause your steering to pull to one side, resulting in some drifting while driving. This is an especially dangerous issue that should not be ignored.
- Power steering not working – If you are used to power steering, you will definitely notice when it stops working in your vehicle as it will be significantly harder to steer. This can be due to a mechanical issue from the steering gear or a malfunction from the power steering computer if your vehicle uses an electric power steering system.
- Dashboard warning lights turn on – dashboard warning light configuration tends to vary slightly from vehicle to vehicle, but you may have one or more turn on if there is a problem with the steering gear. This will also produce a diagnostic code that your mechanic can reference when resolving the issue.
- Hydraulic fuel leak – Hydraulic fuel leaks will often cause problems for the steering gear. This leaks can come from multiple places from inside your steering gear and if ignored can cause permanent damage to your vehicle.
If you notice any of the above signs, it’s time to get in contact with a mechanic to get your steering gear serviced. The best way to book car maintenance services is by booking through CarAdvise. CarAdvise makes booking services simple and will guarantee that you will pay less than the price in the shop!