How power steering works

How does power steering work?

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The steering system is an integral part of a vehicle that controls the directional movement of any vehicle. The steering system steers only front wheels according to the input given by the driver. With the introduction of power steering in 1903, today, 90% of cars equip power steering. Power steering makes it easier to steer the wheels, which otherwise is very tough and feels very heavy. The handling duties are made easy by power steering.

The introduction of power steering has also decreased the number of accidents to a certain extent.


Components of a power steering


Steering wheel

It is a wheel that is visible in the cabin of a car. A driver operates the steering wheel and delivers the input. This input transfers to the rest of the steering mechanism.

Steering mechanism

The function of the steering mechanism is to convert the rotational motion from the steering wheel to the transverse motion of wheels.  

In power steering mostly rack, and pinion steering mechanism is used. In this steering mechanism, a set of racks provide transverse motion to the wheels. The work of a pinion is to provide the rotational motion. The pinion gear rotates when the steering wheel moves, which moves the rack back and forth and turns the wheel left or right.


The steering linkage is a connection between the front wheels and the steering gearbox. This steering gearbox has a Pitman arm, and this steering linkage transfers the motion of the Pitman arm to the steering knuckles of the front wheels.

When the steering wheel rotates then this moves the Pitman arm. This movement of the Pitman arm transfer as a transverse motion to the front wheels.

Power device

These are the devices that amplify the power input given by the driver through the steering wheel. Simply saying, power devices make it effortless to handle the steering wheel. These power devices are of three types: hydraulic, hybrid, or electric

Based on power devices, there are different power steering systems. So, read on for each one of them.

Also Read: Common problems with Electric vehicles


Different types of the power steering system


Electric power steering system

It is an electrically operated power steering system. It uses electric motors to apply force on the steering gear and uses only electric motors and sensors to produce the required torque and transverse motion.

The electric power steering system is one of the latest power steering systems.

Sensors detect the motion of the steering wheel and accordingly generate the torque to move the front wheels. The electric motors and sensors operate from the electric charge from the alternator.

Hydraulic power steering system 

This type of power steering system uses a hydraulic pump to amplify the movement of steering wheels. These hydraulic pumps consist of highly compressed hydraulic fluids, which help to increase power.

These hydraulic pumps operate from engine power. When a steering wheel rotates, it exerts pressure on these fluids.

This pressure on fluids applies even higher pressure on the steering gear.

Electro-hydraulic power steering

As you can guess from the name, it is a mixture of electric and hydraulic power steering systems. It is also known as a hybrid power steering system. In this power steering system, the hydraulic pump amplifies the power. This hydraulic pump works over an electric motor. In this way, this power steering system uses both hydraulic and electric power.


How does a power steering system work?


As there are three different types of power steering systems, hence their working also differs. The function of all is to amplify the steering wheel movement into the transverse motion of the front wheels.

So, starting from the first:

Electric power steering system

The working of this power steering system depends on an electric motor and sensors. When a driver rotates the steering wheel, the electric sensors deliver the signals to the electric control unit of the vehicle.

This unit further sends the signals to the electric motor. Now, this electric motor generates torque accordingly to the received signals.

This torque will transfer to the pinion gear, which applies the torque to the rack. This rack now steers the front wheels.

That’s how an electric power steering system works.

Hydraulic power steering system

This system includes various components like hydraulic fluid, hydraulic cylinder, hydraulic pump, etc. 

As soon as the driver rotates the steering wheel, the hydraulic pump starts pumping the hydraulic fluid. This compression applies pressure over the piston, present in the hydraulic cylinder.

The piston starts moving and amplifies the pressure several times. Now, this high pressure will transfer to the pinion through the coupling mechanism. This pinion applies pressure on the rack gear, and this rack gear further moves the front wheels.

Electro-hybrid power steering system

This system works with both electric and hydraulic power. It consists of an electric pump, hydraulic cylinder, coupling mechanism, etc.

When the driver rotates the steering wheel, the electric pump applies pressure over the piston present in the hydraulic cylinder. This piston amplifies the pressure even more. From the piston, this pressure will transfer to the pinion gear via a coupling mechanism. Now, this pinion gear applies pressure over the rack, which in turn steers the front wheels.

That’s how power steering works.




Power steering is a boon to the steering mechanism. With the introduction of power steering, the handling of the steering wheel of a car has become even smoother. Now a driver need not throw hands over the steering wheel and compete to turn the vehicle. The function of power steering is to amplify the input motion given by the rider through the steering wheel. This high pressure makes it easy to rotate wheels.

Mukesh choudhary
Mukesh choudhary
Age may offer experience but my passion for cars brings me expertise. I am extremely good at one thing and that's writing about cars.

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