While the number of vehicles with electric power steering is growing, hydraulic power steering is the choice for some platforms and applications both new and old. When replacing racks and pumps, not much has changed. But the differences are in the details. More on this in this Tire Review Continental Tire Garage Studio video.
Some of the most often missed items when investigating a power steering complaint are the hoses. Underhood temperatures have increased and are even more punishing for hoses. If you see small black particles inside the power steering reservoir, chances are these are pieces of the hose, rather than the pump or rack.
High-temperature pulsations cause power steering hoses to deteriorate from the inside. The constant flexing and pressure surges result in the breaking off of small particles of hose, which are carried through the system and can lead to a system malfunction.
Loss of power steering can cause an accident – and the power steering fluid is extremely flammable. When it ignites, it is difficult to extinguish. Inspection of the lines is important, and any leak should not be taken lightly.
When you are replacing any power steering hydraulic component, it is critical to ensure that all the old fluid is flushed out of the system, as it may be contaminated. There are several ways you can do this with fluid exchangers or just draining and replenishing the reservoir.
Many vehicles also require the steering angle sensor, or SAS, to be reset or recalibrated after an alignment is performed or components in the steering system are replaced. Even if the SAS is out of calibration, most vehicles have ways to sense if it is traveling in a straight line. If the angle is far enough out of range, it might set a trouble code and disable the ABS and/or ESC system.
Power steering hoses, hydraulics, and the steering angle sensor are major components in hydraulic power steering. Understanding and knowing how to fix and repair these will give you more service opportunities.