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Steering

Learn and Shop: Steering System

Time is gained on a track through braking, but without steering there can be no vehicle control. Steering inputs through the wheel an transferred through the steering column to the steering rack. A few different rack configurations exist, such as rack-and-pinion or recirculating ball, but regardless the column radial movement is translated into lateral action that pushes and pulls on tie rods exiting the rack. These tie rods have ends, typically fitted will ball joints, are attached to the steering knuckle. Thus, the turning of the steering wheel is translated to movement of the wheels of the vehicle to change direction.

Power Assist

Until power steering systems came to be, steering effort could be extremely high at slow speeds or at a stop. The force needed to twist the rubber tires against the ground is quite high, and power steering helps to reduce the difficult wrenching at the wheel normally needed to accomplish the task. Power assist works traditionally by hydraulic power; hydraulic fluid, pressurized by an engine- or motor-driven pump, is forced into the rack to help push it in the desired direction.

More recent systems use an electric system which increases torque on the steering column or rack via an electric motor assist. These systems are lighter, and more complex. By eliminating the parasitic draw on the power-plant, fuel economy is improved. However the benefits of electric power steering are balanced against a loss in road feedback and linear feel, as these systems replace the steering effort instead of easing them.

For the best road feel while driving, non-assisted steering is considered ideal.

Steering Wheel

The steering wheel is the tactile input method of steering the vehicle. Steering wheels can vary in diameter, shape, and overall design. They are of the most prominent parts of the interior. Fitted with a rim, spokes, and a center; steering wheels attach to the column via a hub. More sporting wheels normally have thicker rims for a more substantial feel. They may be smaller in diameter, which can serve to increase the weight of effort.

Aftermarket hubs typically attach aftermarket wheels to the steering column. These hubs are normally semi-universal in terms of the wheels that can be fitted. They can also be quick release mechanisms, allowing for removal of the wheel benefiting ingress and egress from vehicles with fixed seats, and heightened security.

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