Like many components of your vehicle, the steering system is not only important, but it gets a lot of use every time you drive.  However, drivers tend to take the steering system for granted, until something goes wrong with it.

In this month’s blog, we examine two common steering system issues and ways to keep it operating effectively through maintenance and improved driving habits.

How the Steering System Works

Let’s start with an explanation of how the steering system works:

  1. The drivers’ main interaction with the steering system is through the steering wheel. The steering wheel is what controls the vehicle turning motions based on the hand movement of the driver.
  2. From the steering wheel, there is the steering column and shaft. The steering column is a set of hollow steel tubes that house the shaft.
  3. The shaft is what will activate the gear in the steering system, when the steering wheel is engaged. The more common type of steering system is rack and pinion.  The pinion is a type of gear that when it rotates, moves a rack left or right in the direction that the vehicle is being turned by the steering wheel.
  4. The rack movement is what evenutally creates the energy and movement to the tie rods, steering arms, and knuckles.
  5. The rods, arms, and knuckles are responsible for producing the turning motion of the wheel based on the direction that the steering wheel was turned.

The beauty of the steering system is that it is designed to move a very large, heavy vehicle based on small movements with the drivers’ hands on the steering wheel.  Steering is a very precise, and orchestrated process that represents an engineering marvel.

Common Steering System Issues

The vehicle steering system is always in use when the vehicle is being driven, and therefore, it is subjected to a lot of road stress, movement, wear, and tear.

There are two more common issues that may surface with your steering system, and these are:

  1. The tie rods can become worn or damaged
  2. The CV Axle can become worn or damaged

Tie Rods

The tie rod is a vital component of the vehicle’s steering system – they are what connect the system to the wheel.  The tie rod end is responsible for transferring the power with a type of “ball socket” from the gear to the steering knuckles when the vehicle is being steered.  The inner and outer tie rods can be subjected to the damaging effects of driving, such as potholes, and uneven or rough surfaces of the road.

The symptoms of a tie rod problem resemble other common vehicle problems.   If you are experiencing any of these, it’s advisable to have the steering system inspected:

  • Squealing on turns
  • Poor alignment and wearing of tires
  • Vibrating of the vehicle
  • Difficulty with the steering wheel

Typically, a service professional is going to make sure that there is no damage to the tie rods and keep them maintained by lubrication.

CV Axle

The CV Axle (or Constant Velocity), is a component of your drive-train that transfers torque power from your transmission to your wheels.  The CV Axle has rubber boot covers on the joints that can become worn or damaged over time.  When the boot covers are damaged or worn, they may cause grease to leak from the joint areas.

Some of the signs of a bad CV Axle are:

  • A clicking sound when you are turning the vehicle.
  • Grease on the edge of the tires from leaking grease
  • Excessive vibration while driving

If you notice these symptoms, make sure to check with a service professional at Campus Repair.  We will inspect the CV Axle and make sure it is properly greased and replace any worn or damaged boot covers.

Steering System Maintenance

Maintaining your steering system is a matter of having it inspected and lubricated regularly by a service professional.  It is also important to periodically (monthly) check your power steering fluid for low levels, and have it replaced every 30,000 miles driven.  If you consistently notice the fluid being low, you may want to have the vehicle inspected for a possible leak.

You can also proactively maintain your vehicle by being more careful with your driving habits.  Avoiding potholes and rough road surfaces is important to keep steering parts from damage.

While you may not always think about your steering system, it is a critical vehicle component that not only gets you from one place to another but provides you with an extra amount of safety and security while driving.

Contact the service professionals at Campus Repair today for a steering system inspection.  We will examine your vehicle and provide recommendations for any necessary repairs or replacements.