Some of our older folks probably remember the days before power steering. In 1956 the 20 inch steering wheel was a hot topic in the Chevrolet Bel Air and Ford Fairlane. Before the invention of power steering, a bigger steering wheel gave the driver more leverage to turn the vehicle. However, before power steering, even these big steering wheels still made it hard for vehicles to turn when they slowed down or came to a stop. Citywide Towing would like to get more appreciation for the invention of power steering and give a brief history as to the evolution on power steering.
History of Power Steering
The first concept of power steering was actually first invented in 1940 in the Cadillac. Cadillac’s had re-circulating ball steering gears which was the first advancement toward power steering. Due to the weight of the car, vehicles were really hard to turn and especially at a stand still. Car manufacturers knew this was problem and had a hard time selling those bigger luxury cars because they were so hard to turn. From 1940 to 1960, manufacturers continued to perfect and change the power steering. By the 60’s and 70’s, power steering became an optional feature on Cadillacs, Lincolns and Chrysler vehicles. By the late 70’s, power steering became a standard feature on all American made vehicles due to the demand. With power steering becoming a standard feature, the steering wheels began to get small again. Most modern steering wheels are 14 or 15 inches in diameter.
Types of Power Steering
Through the evolution of power steering, two types of power steering had evolved. One was the hydraulic cylinder that attached to the drag link as well as the chassis. This power steering system uses a control valve that is attached to the end of the drag link. This replaces the need for a tie rod as well as the valve actuator. The second type of power steering uses a hydraulic cylinder that is integrated into the steering gear which then connects to the re-circulating ball nut. In turn, the ball nut is connected to the steering shaft. In 1980 a modifying flow from the pump that attaches to the cylinder began using a control system which was called Electronic Variable Orifice (EVO) that reduces high speed sensitivity.
Power Steering Failure Systems & Signs
There are a number of power steering failures that can occur. Sometimes the coil in the EVO valve can fail. When this occurs, the power steering pump will send increased pressure or volume to the hydraulic cylinder. This will cause the vehicle to drive with far more sensitivity and can cause problems while driving. If the valves fail instead of the EVO you will get the opposite reaction where the vehicle will become more difficult to turn, the vehicle will feel heavy. In modern vehicles, sensors are used to help monitor and maintain constant control of the power steering. When the sensor fails, you will feel while driving, small intermittent inputs where the vehicle’s power steering sensitivity increases then balances back out.
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With this brief history of power steering and for those who have never had to drive a vehicle without power steering, be aware of these wonderful modern advances. Additionally, if you’re experiencing power steering failure, you may want to stop driving your vehicle and get it to your local mechanic to repair the problem right away. If you need your vehicle towed or find you need roadside assistance, contact Citywide Towing.