Monthly Archives: November 2016

The power steering system

The power steering system is basically a hydraulic assist system that uses oil under pressure to assist in moving the front wheels back and forth as you drive.  When you turn the steering wheel, a spool valve directs the system pressure towards the direction you turn the wheel.  Fluid is constantly pumped from the power steering pump through the system when the engine is running.  After the fluid passes through the steering rack, it returns as a low pressure fluid back to the reservoir that maybe mounted on the pump.  This cycle repeats itself over and over through the life of the system.

 

Over time and exposure to high and low pressures, heat and cold, the “soft parts” of the power steering system will start to harden and sometimes shrink.  Hoses and seals will eventually not work as they were designed, allowing pressure to drop or cause a system leak.  Losing the power steering fluid and running the system dry will result in expensive repairs from over heating and lack of lubricant.

 

Determining that your power steering system has a leak can be as simple as checking the fluid level and noting that it has dropped in the reservoir.  Some reservoirs have dipsticks, others have a window where you can inspect the level.  There are usually two marks to check against, “Hot and Cold”.  The fluid expands as it heats up, so if the vehicle is hot the level should be closer to the hot level.  Cold vehicle, it should be near the lower level.

 

If the fluid level is low, an easy visual inspection of the system should help you locate the leaky spot or spots.  (Note: The following is best done on a cool vehicle.  If you should be going under the vehicle, use safe methods to raise and secure the vehicle.) Use a flashlight and trace the system from the reservoir down the hoses to the steering rack.  Visually inspect the steering rack top and bottom, side to side.  Note the black bellows on each end of the steering rack, squeeze and feel for fluid in them.  If you find them full of fluid you are probably looking at replacing the steering rack. Finish tracing the system from the steering rack back to the reservoir.

 

Sometimes the leaks can be as simple as a clamp coming loose over time.  Just tightening or replacing the clamp will solve your problem.  Leaks at pressure fittings may benefit from a gentle amount of tightening too.

 

Celebrate All Year with Auto Tips

By changing a few habits, motorists can do their part in helping the environment, say the experts at the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). ASE recommends regular vehicle maintenance and better driving habits as two easy-to-implement strategies. What’s more, improved automotive habits will help your vehicle last longer and command a better resale price.

The following tips from ASE can put you on the road to environmentally conscious car care:

  • Keep the engine running at peak performance. A misfiring spark plug can reduce fuel efficiency as much as 30 percent. Replace filters and fluids as recommended in the owner’s manual.
  • Don’t ignore that ‘Service Engine’ light. Today’s vehicles have much cleaner tailpipe emissions that they did 30 years ago, but a poorly running engine or faulty exhaust system will cause your vehicle to pollute much more than it would otherwise.
  • Keep tires properly inflated and aligned. Not only will you reduce the engine’s effort and, thus, gasoline consumption, your tires will last longer too, saving you money and easing the burden at recycling centers.
  • Have your vehicle’s air conditioner serviced only by a technician certified to handle and recycle refrigerants. Older air conditioners contain ozone-depleting chemicals, which could be released into the atmosphere through improper service.
  • Avoid speeding and sudden accelerations. Both of these habits guzzle gas. When waiting for friends or family, shut off the engine. Consolidate daily errands to one trip to eliminate unnecessary driving.
  • Remove excess items from the vehicle. Less weight equals better gas mileage. Remove that roof-top luggage carrier after vacations to reduce air drag, too.
  • If you do your own repairs, properly dispose of engine fluids and batteries. Some repair facilities accept these items from consumer. You can also contact local government for hazardous material drop-off/recycling stations. Remember too that improperly disposed fluids such as antifreeze can harm pets and wildlife.