Power steering is an automotive system that assists a driver to steer a motor vehicle with less of an effort needed to turn the steering wheel. But do you know what mechanism helps the system to make power steering possible? You guess it right! It’s the power steering pump!
The power steering pump is an important part of your vehicle and losing its power will have serious consequences.
Maybe it’s time you ought to know more about a power steering pump, how it functions, how it operates, the cost to repair or replace a bad one, and other facts about this system
What is the function of the power steering pump?
Also called a ‘vane pump’, the power steering pump makes the whole power steering system works efficiently. Power steering, which is also known as power-assisted steering, is featured in almost all trucks and utility vehicles and many cars today.
Even if you have an automatic or manual transmission vehicle, power steering eases parking and other low-speed maneuvers. It is also a practical necessity for larger vehicles and for drivers who are not quite as strong as to steer the wheel manually.
But what is the role of the pump to the power steering and what it does? The power steering pump is driven by the engine of the vehicle using a belt and a pulley as the drive assembly.
Watch how to replace a power steering belt yourself, you can know details.
The power steering pump does a very special role in realizing power steering. It uses hydraulics or electric actuators to pressurize or push fluid (a type of brake fluid similar to ATF or automatic transmission fluid) into the power steering gearbox.
The fluid, with the aid of the pump, circulates into the power steering system and used to assist in turning the wheels of a car without much effort to the driver. Here’s how it goes: when the driver turns the steering wheel, there are tiny ports that open up in the steering shaft allowing the pressurized fluid (powered by the pump) to assist the shaft in turning the wheels.
The power steering pump needs special power steering fluid to perform efficiently. The fluid should be changed occasionally during periodic maintenance or when needed.
The power steering system accessories
You should remember that the power steering pump only operates when the vehicle is running. We discuss here the essential parts of a power steering pump so you can visualize how the system works.
Power steering pump
The power steering pump is driven by the engine’s serpentine belt that builds-up fluid pressure in the high side hose to the input side of the system’s steering control valve. The pump provides power steering fluid under high-pressure to the rack and pinion parts of the system.
Rack and pinion
The rack and pinion are toothed gears that are moved by the pressurized fluid whenever the driver turns the wheel. This assembly translates the driver’s steering action into the movement of the front wheels for turning the vehicle.
Whenever the wheel is steered, the pinion turns against the rack, pushing it (the rack) in the intended direction, thus, turning the wheel effortlessly.
Steering yoke assembly
The steering yoke lies between the rack and pinion input shaft and the steering column. Also called as the ‘steering damper’, this device is a thick rubber chunk that absorbs road vibrations and shocks. The rubber piece prevents the shocks to be transferred to the driver via the steering wheel.
Tie rod ends
The tie rod ends is an essential part of the power steering system that are attached to the ends of the steering rack to the knuckle. This permits the smooth transition of the motion of the rack into the movement of the front wheels. The tie rod pivots vertically or diagonally but rotates horizontally and compensates for the bouncing of the vehicle when it hit rough roads.
The input shaft and steering column of vehicles are not ideally aligned to each other. To correct this, the steering coupler is designed to act as a joint between the two. The steering coupler allows the steering wheel to spin without messing up the steering column.
The power steering hoses are commonly made from metal, usually, stainless steel, depending on car make. But most are made from high-heat rubber. Moreover, there are two main types of these hoses. One is for the high side while another is for the low side.
The two hoses are attached to the rack and pinion assembly by a threaded brass or copper fittings. The high side hose provides high-pressure fluid to the rack providing the power-assist to the steering inputs. The low side hose is fitted into a small pipe secured by a clamp that brings back low-pressure fluid back to the pump.
Power steering pump replacement cost
For most expert mechanics, replacing an old or bad power steering pump usually takes just an hour. But how much it cost to replace a power steering pump that will include both labor and materials?
For the labor cost, what we have found out, expect to pay between $100 and $250 for this job alone. Moreover, most power steering pump parts or replacement kits may cost between $60 to $500, depending on car make, year, model, and the shop where you take your car. This quote includes the pump’s other parts needed to replace an old unit.
Power steering pump repair
But if you want to restore or repair an old power steering pump, most shops that we have surveyed are unanimous to state that it may cost you between $400 and $800, while the life is not guaranteed. Also, efficiency is not guaranteed compared to a brand new unit.
Now you know the importance of the power steering pump to your car, you might as well appreciate its value, monetarily and functionality –wise. You should also know that when there are problems with your power steering system, your Check Engine Light won’t illuminate, it is really the gut and feels that will tell you there is something wrong with the steering system.
Furthermore, once you are convinced that there is a problem with the power steering, the first you have to check is the power steering pump and its accessories.
If you want to replace the unit yourself, most experts agreed that it will just take an hour. But when you sensed more problems on the power steering pump, better seek the help of your most trusted mechanic.