Category Archives: Steering
Today we’re going to talk about power steering service in Des Moines. If you took an informal poll around Des Moines you’d probably find that most have never heard of power steering service. That’s not surprising. Even though power steering is standard on every vehicle, most people in Des Moines aren’t aware that it needs periodic service.
If you’re younger than a certain age, you’ve probably never driven a car or truck without power steering. To get an idea of the difference; if you’ve ever cut a board with a hand saw, you know it’s a lot of work. Using a power saw is easy-peasy by comparison.
Without power steering, your arms have to do all the work to steer the wheels, and that’s hard, especially around downtown Des Moines. That’s why old cars had such big steering wheels; to get enough leverage to steer.
Most vehicles in Des Moines have a hydraulic power steering system. The serpentine belt from the engine powers a pump. The pump pressurizes the power steering fluid. This actuates a hydraulic cylinder that provides power to help steer.
Some vehicles in Des Moines use an electric pump to pressurize the fluid rather than a belt driven pump. We’re also seeing vehicles with electric motors providing the power assist, not using power steering fluid at all. We’ll see a lot more electric systems as more hybrids and electric vehicles hit the market.
At least for now, the vast majority of power steering systems use power steering fluid that needs to be serviced. The fluid needs to be changed for a couple of reasons. For one, it attracts moisture. Water has different hydraulic qualities than power steering fluid, and that makes a difference in steering performance. Water is also corrosive and can damage power steering components. The fluid also just gets dirty and needs to be changed. Removing the old fluid and flushing out the system gets rid of dirt and deposits. The clean, fresh fluid lubricates and provides better corrosion protection.
So ask your Des Moines service advisor at Des Moine BDG or check your owner’s manual to see when power steering service is recommended. It’ll extend the life of your power steering components.
Most of us living in the Altoona area are too young to remember life before power steering – cranking those great big steering wheels! It was a pretty good workout. Now power steering is standard. Let’s look at how it works. The heart of any power steering system is its pump. The pump pressurizes the power steering fluid that provides assist for steering. Most pumps are driven by a belt that is run by the engine – a few are electrically powered. A high-pressure hose passes fluid from the pump to the steering gear. A low pressure hose returns the fluid back to the pump.
These hoses can develop leaks, so it is a good idea to inspect them at every oil change. Low fluid can damage the power steering pump. That is why fluid level is on the checklist for a full-service oil change. The fluid needs to be compatible with the hoses and seals, so check your owners’ manual for the right type – or just ask your helpful service advisor at Des Moine BDG.
The fluid cleans, cools and lubricates the power steering system. It breaks down as the years go by and collects unwanted moisture, so Des Moines drivers need to replace it from time to time. Many auto makers specify power steering service intervals. Unfortunately, this important service is sometimes left off the car maintenance schedule for many of us in Altoona. So, when in doubt, every 25,000 miles/40,000 km or two years is a good fallback. Your Des Moine BDG service advisor will use a detergent to clean the system, flush out the old fluid and replace it with the good stuff.
Here are some warning signs of trouble with your power steering: It’s harder to turn the wheel, there’s erratic power assist, you hear loud whining coming from the pump (which may be difficult to hear over the loud whining coming from the backseat), you have to top-off the fluid frequently, or you hear squealing belts. Remember to never hold the steering wheel to the far right or left for more than a few seconds at a time. That will wear out your power steering pump real fast.
Other steering components can be bent or damaged from wear or hard knocks. Ball-joint, idler-arm, steering-gear, steering-knuckle and tie rod to name a few. Warning signs here are steering play, wandering, uneven tire wear, and off-center steering wheel. An annual alignment check at Des Moine BDG will reveal bent or damaged steering components.
Most SUV’s, pick-ups and rear-wheel-drive cars need regular front-wheel-bearing service.
The bearings should be cleaned and inspected. If they are excessively worn, they need to be replaced. The bearings are then repacked in clean grease. It’s also recommend the wheel-seal be replaced when the bearings are serviced. Like everything else, check your owners’ manual maintenance schedule. It’s usually required around every two years or 40,000 miles/64,000 km. If you drive through water in the Altoona area, the bearings will need service more often.
Des Moine BDG
2222 East Douglas Ave
Des Moines, IA 50313