Steering

Steer Clear of Power Steering Problems (Power Steering Maintenance)

We usually take our vehicle's easy steering for granted until something goes wrong.  Power steering is what makes it almost effortless to turn the steering wheel, aiming your vehicle in the direction you want to go. Without the assistance of power from the engine, steering would be a laborious process, so you want to make sure the system is working well.

Power steering systems are usually one of two types, hydraulic and electric.  The hydraulic type uses a pump that is driven by either a belt or an electric motor.  This system uses hydraulic fluid to create pressure that gives your steering the power assist.  Since that pump is always working, time and distance traveled eventually take their toll, and these systems need to be periodically inspected.  Also, while that hydraulic fluid can last for years, it should be replaced periodically as it degrades over time. Your vehicle's owner's manual contains the manufacturer's recommendations.

A technician can check for leaks in the hoses, pump housing or reservoir.  Also, the belts should be inspected and so should the pump, as these can fail.  Signs of a failing pump are a groaning noise when you turn the steering wheel, stiff steering, squealing noises when you first start your car and puddles of a reddish-brown fluid under your vehicle. 

The other type is called EPS, or electric power steering, which is becoming more commonly used in the latest vehicles.  It only delivers power assist when you need it and has an electric motor that supplies that steering help.  It's more efficient, accurate, compact and clean. And because it has a lot fewer components, it's easier to maintain. 

If you have electric power steering, you may notice sometimes it's hard to turn the wheel or your Check Engine light comes on.  Sometimes the power assist motor fails or there can be problems with electrical connections.  Any time you have symptoms, it's important for your safety and that of drivers around you that you have a technician check them out.

Properly working brakes are essential for the safe operation of any vehicle.  Stop! And make sure yours are working properly.


PDR
1008 N. Cunningham Avenue
Urbana, Illinois 61802
217-367-9481
http://www.pdrauto.com

Have a Ball! Know your Ball Joints (Ball Joints)

We all have joints in our own skeletal system, but did you know your vehicle has some joints of its own? One of the most important is called a ball joint.

One of the interesting things is that it's somewhat similar to the ball and socket joints we have in our hips and shoulders.  A ball joint allows two parts it joins together to move in more than one direction at the same time.

Think about your wheels.  They have to move up and down when there are bumps in the road but in sideways directions when you are making a turn. As you can see, the ball joints are important for your steering and handling to work correctly.

Since ball joints do so much, they can wear out and become loose.  When the ball wears down or the socket gets worn, there can be too much play in them.  It can get so bad that the ball can come out of the socket and your wheel can fall off, a dangerous situation.  Ball joints can also seize up.  Some of them are sealed and never require maintenance; others require periodic lubrication.

Here are some signs that your ball joints are going bad:

  • Your vehicle pulls to one side
  • You can hear a clunking noise coming from a wheel area
  • Your tires are wearing unevenly, especially on the inside

The earlier a failing ball joint is discovered, the better. The best way is to have regular inspections by a technician.  Your service facility will periodically check ball joints at intervals recommended by the manufacturer. The cost to replace them can vary widely depending on whether you have a vehicle with a 2-ball or 4-ball configuration.  Also, sometimes just the joints can be replaced, but other times they are part of a larger control arm assembly that has to have all the parts replaced at the same time. 

Your vehicle's proper steering, handling and tire wear all contribute to a better, safer driving experience.  Make sure your ball joints are up to the job.

PDR
1008 N. Cunningham Avenue
Urbana, Illinois 61802
217-367-9481
http://www.pdrauto.com

That Squeal is Telling You Something (What Causes Squealing While Steering)

If you hear a squealing noise when you turn your vehicle, it's trying to tell you something is wrong.  After all, it never made that noise before, right?  The sound  you hear may becoming from a few sources.  Let's take a look (or a listen) to some of the possibilities.

First, you almost certainly have power steering in your vehicle. Without power steering, you practically have to have arms like Arnold Schwarzenegger to turn, so automakers have technology to assist your steering, either mechanically or electrically.  For a long time, the most common power steering has been hydraulic, using a belt to supply power from the engine that turns a power steering pump full of a fluid that helps you steer. 

Sometimes that fluid gets low because of a leak or some other problem.  The belt could wear out and start squeaking, and you might feel the steering start to become harder.  Your service repair facility can figure out the problem and offer some solutions.

Another cause could be in your suspension.  Some components may not be getting lubricated like they should.  Or you may be hearing your tires squealing when you are turning. 

Properly working steering is a huge safety factor for your vehicle's operation.  Your steering affects handling, vital to your well-being as well as that of drivers around you.  So take your vehicle over to your repair facility and have it checked out.  You'll be doing everyone on the road—including yourself—a big favor by listening to your vehicle. When it comes to steering, silence really is golden.  Get that squealing repaired and get back to safe driving.

PDR
1008 N. Cunningham Avenue
Urbana, Illinois 61802
217-367-9481
http://www.pdrauto.com

STRAIGHT TALK ABOUT STEERING (Loose Steering)

Perhaps you've heard someone use the term "loose steering." And it's pretty much what it sounds like.  You turn the steering wheel and the vehicle's wheels don't seem to go exactly where you thought you were pointing them.  You have to constantly make steering adjustments. 

Loose steering is sloppy steering, and it can be a safety hazard.  You need to be able to control your vehicle with pretty much the same precision as the way it was when it came off the assembly line.  

If the steering in your vehicle is starting to feel loose and sloppy, there may be some significant suspension issues that need examining by a trained technician.

How do you know if your vehicle needs to be looked at? Try turning the steering wheel and see how much play is in it.  One rule of thumb: if you can turn it the distance of a quarter and a dime placed side by side without seeing the outside wheels move, it's time to have it inspected by one of our technicians.

Our PDR technician will examine those components that are supposed to work together to make sure your steering is tight and precise.  They are linked together by things called (of course) linkages.

When these linkage components were new, they all fit together tightly and moved together to make sure your wheels responded quickly and precisely to your movements of the steering wheel.   

But hit a few potholes, travel over a couple of rough railroad tracks and those metal components can be damaged or bent.  Given enough time, they will simply wear out. Our trained PDR technician can inspect all of those parts and determine what needs to be repaired and/or replaced.  

Keep your steering tight.  Loose or sloppy steering can be dangerous.  Thank goodness it usually warns you in plenty of time before it fails completely. Just straight talk… about steering.

PDR
1008 N. Cunningham Avenue
Urbana, Illinois 61802
217-367-9481
http://www.pdrauto.com

Steering Clear in Urbana

Those who know vehicles believe the steering system may be the most vital component of them all. Perhaps you've found over the years your steering has gotten loose. Or maybe suddenly, your steering wheel has gotten very hard to turn. Let's steer you in the direction of understanding why this may be happening.

First, loose steering. This can likely be the result of wear and tear on the components that connect the steering mechanism with the wheels. Those parts can be ball joints, Pitman arms or tie rods. These parts take a lot of abuse on the road, thanks to railroad tracks, potholes, uneven surfaces: you name it. It's important that they be checked regularly and maintained at PDR.

Second, the hard-to-turn wheel. Virtually all vehicles on the road have power steering. There are a couple of different types, though, so let's deal with each. By the way, when they fail, your vehicle's steering can suddenly go from easy peasy to really hard to control.

Some vehicles have hydraulic power steering. It uses a hydraulic fluid that can either leak out or become contaminated. When that happens, you can lose that power assist. There's also a belt involved, and if it becomes worn, stretched or cracked (or even breaks), you'll find yourself struggling with the wheel. If you hear a loud whine coming from the area in the engine compartment when you are steering, that could mean your power steering pump is failing. The best way to avoid these problems is regular maintenance.

Recently, manufacturers have been using electric power steering systems that have some advantages over hydraulic systems. They have electric motors that—like everything mechanical—can fail. Sometimes a fuse to the power steering motor will blow, but simply replacing the fuse often doesn't get to the root cause of the problem. A PDR technician can evaluate the system and recommend a solution.

Steering issues are all about safety and should be addressed as soon as possible. When you tell your service advisor, try to be specific about the signs and symptoms. It's one way to steer clear of trouble on the road.

PDR
1008 N. Cunningham Avenue
Urbana, Illinois 61802
217-367-9481
http://www.pdrauto.com

Stay Headed in the Right Direction, Urbana

Power steering is standard on nearly every vehicle in Urbana, Illinois, these days. Now there are some exotic, new types of power steering systems, but for the most part, the general setup is a pump that's driven by a belt powered by the engine.

Contact the automotive professionals at PDR in Urbana for questions about your power steering.

The pump generates power that assists drivers as they steer their vehicle around Urbana, Illinois. Power steering systems use hoses to move pressurized fluid back and forth. These hoses can develop leaks so it's a good idea to have PDR inspect them at every oil change.

A check of the power steering fluid level is on the list for every full service oil change at PDR because low fluid can damage the power steering pump. And the fluid needs to be compatible with the hoses and seals, so it's important to use the correct type – just ask your service advisor at PDR.

In addition to providing a boost, the fluid cleans, cools and lubricates the power steering system. Over time, the lubricants and detergents diminish so Urbana drivers need to replace their old fluid with clean, fresh fluid periodically.

Excess moisture can collect in the power steering fluid as well. That can lead to rust and corrosion as well as reduce the effectiveness of the fluid. Many outline power steering service intervals in the owner's manual. Unfortunately, this service is sometimes left off the maintenance schedule. For Urbana drivers who are not sure, every two years is a good rule of thumb. 

At PDR, we use a detergent to clean the system, flush out the old fluid and replace it with new fluid.

Now, if you are experiencing high steering effort, erratic power assist or loud whining coming from the pump, you may have a power steering problem. Another sign is having to frequently top off the fluid.

Holding the steering wheel to the far right or left for more than a few seconds at a time can wear your pump out quickly. We want you to be sure to service your power steering system regularly at your service center, or PDR in Urbana, to keep you headed in the right direction.

PDR
1008 N. Cunningham Avenue
Urbana, Illinois 61802
217-367-9481
http://www.pdrauto.com

Right or Left? PDR Power Steering Service

Have you ever driven a vehicle without power steering? If you have, then you probably appreciate how much easier it is to drive today's modern vehicles. Before power steering, all of the force to turn a vehicle had to come from the driver's arms. That's why old cars had such large steering wheels: they needed plenty of leverage to steer. There were some Urbana folks who had difficulty driving because they just weren't strong enough.

Power steering is now standard on all vehicles, but there are several ways that power can be delivered. Most vehicles use a hydraulic power steering system system. In this system, a serpentine belt from the engine powers a pump that pressurizes the power steering fluid. The pressure activates hydraulics that provides steering power.

Other vehicles use an electric pump to pressurize the power steering fluid rather than the belt-driven pump. Some newer vehicles actually have electric motors that provide steering power and don't use steering fluid at all, especially in the increasingly popular hybrid and electric vehicles.

Urbana drivers who own a vehicle that uses power steering fluid need to have it changed regularly. Over time, moisture accumulates in the power steering fluid, which affects steering performance and can corrode steering components. Dirt and other contaminants can also accumulate in the power steering fluid, which will also negatively affect steering performance. A good power steering service at PDR in Urbana will flush out the old fluid and get rid of dirt and other deposits in the system. Clean fluid will then be added. Fresh fluid provides lubricants that help protect the steering system as well as prevent corrosion.

For recommendations on how often your power steering fluid should be replaced, consult your owner's manual. It varies by vehicle model and manufacturer. For more auto advice on steering fluid changes—and other preventive maintenance—you can talk with your service advisor at PDR. You may need to change your fluid more often depending on the driving and weather conditions in your area.

Urbana drivers who believe in good vehicle care will add power steering service to their preventive maintenance schedule. This will prevent damage to your steering system and extend its working life. The old days of double-handed cranking on a huge steering wheel may be over, but our new comfort and convenience are not maintenance-free. Do yourself and your vehicle a favor. Keep the power steering fluid clean.

PDR
1008 N. Cunningham Avenue
Urbana, Illinois 61802
217-367-9481
http://www.pdrauto.com

The Straight and Narrow: Power Steering Service at PDR

Service to a vehicle's power steering system is part of preventive maintenance for  Urbana auto owners. This system provides power to the steering wheel so you can turn it with ease. Without power steering, all of the power to turn your vehicle's wheels would have to come from you.

The central element of most power steering systems is a pump. The pump pressurizes the power steering fluid, and it is this pressure that provides auxiliary steering power. A belt connected to the engine usually powers the pump, although some systems use an electric pump. Some newer vehicles have an electric motor that directly provides the power steering boost.

Pressurized fluid moves from the pump to the steering gear through a high-pressure hose. A low-pressure hose returns fluid to the pump. Power steering fluid cleans, cools and lubricates the system.

Urbana drivers should remember that fluid levels in the power steering system should be checked at every oil change. Low fluid levels can damage the pump, which can be expensive to repair. Low fluid levels may also indicate a leaky hose in the power steering system, so it is a good idea to inspect the hoses, especially if your fluid levels are low.

Power steering fluid breaks down over time, losing its effectiveness. It also gradually collects moisture, which can lead to corrosion in the steering system. So the fluid needs to be replaced occasionally. You should check with your owner's manual or ask your service advisor at PDR to learn how often this fluid should be replaced.

When your fluid is replaced, your technicians at PDR will remove the old fluid and replace it with new. Power steering fluids are not all created equal; the fluid has to be compatible with your hoses and seals. PDR can ensure that you get the right fluid for your vehicle, or you can consult your owner's manual.

Signs that your power steering system is in trouble can include the following: a steering wheel that is hard to turn, auxiliary steering power that cuts in and out, or a whining sound coming from the pump. Also, drivers in Urbana who are not topping off the power steering fluid on schedule may hear squealing coming from the engine belts.

To protect your steering system you should never hold the steering wheel in the far right or far left position for more than a few seconds at a time. This can wear out your pump in a hurry.

Preventive maintenance for your steering system primarily involves the power steering components, but your steering system has other parts that can wear out or be damaged by rough Illinois driving conditions. Such parts include the ball-joint, idler arm, steering gear, steering-knuckle and tie rod. Signs that they are in need of attention include play in the steering wheel, a vehicle that wanders, uneven tire wear and a steering wheel that is off-center. Urbana drivers should have their alignment checked annually. This check-up can reveal bent or damaged steering components.

For answers to other questions about your steering system, or for auto advice on any type of vehicle maintenance, check with the team at PDR. We can steer you in the right direction when it comes to quality car care.

PDR
1008 N. Cunningham Avenue
Urbana, Illinois 61802
217-367-9481
http://www.pdrauto.com

Steer Right in Urbana

Virtually all vehicles come with power steering, so many Urbana drivers have never driven a car or truck without it. Power steering assists you when you turn your vehicle steering wheel. Without it, it would be very hard to steer.

Now this power assist comes in a couple of forms. In recent years, a lot of vehicles have an electric motor that reduces steering effort and helps improve performance and handling.

The other kind of power steering is hydraulic. This is the kind most older Illinois vehicles — and a lot of newer ones — have. Power steering fluid is pressurized by a pump and is used to assist steering. Of course, vehicles need the right amount of fluid in the system. If it's too low, your steering is affected and you could damage your vehicle pump.

Also, power steering fluid can become corrosive over time and damage the pump, hoses and connectors, leading to leaks and repairs. Power steering service at PDR in Urbana includes removing the contaminated fluid and replacing it with fresh fluid.

A word for Urbana drivers about power steering pumps: Some are powered by an electric motor. Others are driven by the serpentine belt. A worn serpentine belt stresses all of the vehicle components it drives, including the power steering pump, so replace the belt at PDR as advised to avoid undue repairs.

Losing your power steering while driving in Urbana can be unsettling – just remember that you can still steer, it'll just be harder. Check with your service advisor at PDR to see if it's time to service your vehicle's power steering system.

In addition to power steering service, at PDR we offer comprehensive automotive services.

Give us a call.

PDR
217-367-9481
1008 N. Cunningham Avenue
Urbana, Illinois 61802
http://www.pdrauto.com

Get Where You're Going with Power Steering Service in Urbana

Today we're going to talk about power steering service in Urbana. If you took an informal poll around Urbana you'd probably find that most vehicle owners have never heard of power steering service. That's not surprising. Even though power steering is standard on every vehicle, most people in Urbana aren't aware that it needs periodic service.

If you're younger than a certain age, you've probably never driven a vehicle 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 Urbana. That's why old cars had such big steering wheels: to get enough leverage to steer.

Most vehicles in Urbana 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 Urbana 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 Urbana service advisor at PDR or check your owner's manual to see when power steering service is recommended. It'll extend the life of your power steering components.

PDR
1008 N. Cunningham Avenue
Urbana, Illinois 61802
217-367-9481
http://www.pdrauto.com