For everyone who owns a car, it is very important and necessary to know about the essential parts and systems of their cars. In this way, it will be safer for them to drive on highways and easier to detect mechanical faults whenever issues arise.
A car is not just a simple product. It is a combination of different systems which are coupled together to function as one. Therefore, in a car, we have several specialized systems which work together. One of these systems is the car steering system.
What is the Car Steering System?
The car steering system is one of the most important systems in a car. This system determines the direction in which you travel. Thus, it means that steering has a very significant impact on the drive of a car. It is a term used to represent a collection of linkages, gears, and other parts which allow a car to follow a particular direction or change route.
What is the Steering Wheel?
Perhaps, steering wheels are the most crucial part of modern cars including both the light vehicles and heavy trucks. It is this steering wheel that the driver manipulates according to his preferred direction and the system will respond in respect to the changes. Car steering is so responsive that a slight touch can cause a great change in the direction of the car. Generally, a change in the direction of a car can be attained by direct mechanical maneuvering of the car steering wheel.
What are the different kinds of Steering Systems?
There are basically three kinds of steering systems that exist as of today. They are:
Rack and Pinion Steering
This is the most popular and commonly-used steering system. Modern cars and vehicles use this kind of steering mechanism. Particularly, it is commonly used in small trucks, SUVs, and cars. In this kind of steering, there is a connection between the pinion gear and the end of the steering rod.
Basically, this kind of gear system focuses on the connection between the steering wheel, wheel rods, rack, and notched bar to facilitate the movement of the car.
So, how do the Rack and Pinion Steering works? The steering turns the pinion gear which later turns the rack. The rack is the linear gear that connects to the opinion. Rack converts circular motion of the pinion to linear motion along the transverse axis if both tires, resulting in side-to-side movement if the car.
This mechanism transfers the steering rotation to the kingpins of the steered wheels through the special rods and lever arm known as the steering arm.
Rack and pinion steering have become so popular due to the large influx of positive feedback from users. Additionally, it does not normally have any slack or backlash. The downside of the rack and pinion steering system, however, is that the rack system is not adjustable. Therefore, if the steering system wears or develops a fault, it cannot be repaired. The only solution is to change the steering system completely.
Re-circulating Ball Steering
This kind of steering system is particularly unpopular. It is being used in a few SUVs and truck. This steering system works on the principle of connections between the end of the steering rod, threaded rod and a threaded block of metal. On turning the steering wheel, the connection makes the threaded block of metal to rotate.
This threaded metal block transfers the rotation to the pitman’s arm and to the tie rods and track rods which in turn rotates the wheels. The teeth of the block contain small ball bearings that re-circulates through the gear when it turns.
This recirculating ball steering procedure reduces the considerable friction due to the presence of ball bearings between the worm teeth and the screw. The balls are position at the exit of the two pieces into a channel inside the box which connects the apparatus to the end of another which ensures recirculation.
The recirculating ball system has a special advantage of a much higher mechanical precision. This is why it is used in larger, longer and heavier heavy-duty trucks. However, with the universal adoption of power steering, this advantage is no longer conserved.
Meanwhile, the re-circulating steering design has a “dead spot” on the center. This means that at this point of the perceptible lash, a minute turn of the steering wheel will have no effect on the direction of the steering wheels.
This is a modern universally-accepted kind of steering system. In this system, a special hydraulic fluid is used in the gears that convert the turn of the steering wheel to the proper change in the direction of the vehicle’s wheel. Thus, this fluid makes turning much easier.
The fluid in the power steering is kept under constant pressure until the wheels are turned. The downside of the power steering is the leakage of the fluid. Any issue with the pressure of the fluid can affect the rate at which the wheels respond to the rotation of the steering.
What are the best steering wheel materials?
After considering the three kinds of wheels, the next is to examine the myriads of materials used for designing the steering wheels. These materials include leather, polyurethane, and wood.
As odd as it might sounds, some steering wheels are made of wood. It gives a classy and luxurious appearance to the interior of the car. Although it looks pleasing and fancy when new, the shine fades with time. More so, wood is prone to a series of hazards like cracking, splintering and scratching which, ultimately, reduces the internal beauty of the car.
Leather is a very popular steering material with a sleek look. It feels subtle and comfortable to the feel and easy to grip. If well managed, leather can last longer. With time, however, leather can start to peel or splinter, just like those in your living room. This is usually as a result of daily usage and exposure to damaging elements. The leather can be replaced or re-coated.
This is not a very popular kind of steering material. It is particularly common in convertible cars. This material is easy to manage, clean, and maneuver. More so, it is durable and long-lasting.