The different types of power steering

The invention of power steering is what helps drivers control our powerful vehicles. Power steering allows us to maintain our heavy cars with less effort and more control. To date, there are three common types of power steering. All three power steering systems perform the same task. They just use different technology to get the job done. While the traditional hydraulic power steering pump isn't as commonplace as it used to be, let's compare and contrast it with what electronic power steering has to offer.

Let's start with the classic hydraulic power steering fluid.

  • Uses pressurized hydraulic fluid to assist with turning
  • Powered by the serpentine belt or accessory drive
  • The most common form of power steering from the 50's to early 2000s
  • Prone to leaks
  • Continuously running pump is wasted energy
  • This wasted energy leads to wasted fuel and higher emissions
  • The more modern electric power steering is fully powered by an electric motor that's attached to the steering rack or column.

The norm for modern vehicles

  • Eliminates the worry of leaks
  • Has fewer parts
  • Improved fuel economy with lower emissions
  • Uses sensors to detect the effort applied to the wheel from the driver
  • Only takes power when needed to reduce wasted energy
  • Generally lasts longer but is more expensive to repair

As you can see, electric power steering provides a few more benefits than its older counterpart. While these are the most common types of power steering systems, there is one more to cover. In between these two options lies electrohydraulic power steering. Functioning as a hybrid, this system uses a brushless electric motor to drive the steering pump instead of the accessory drive or serpentine belt.