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You dropped in for an oil change for your car, and you’re informed that you will need a power steering flush soon. Well, you’re not sure what that means, how much it will cost, or if its urgent. Read on to see if we can give you a better understanding of power steering and why it may need a flush.

I’ve heard of power steering, but how does it actually work?

Well, the short answer for power steering is that it alleviates physical strain of the driver from having to provide all of the power that allows them to physically turn the heavy wheels of a car. Especially as the evolution of the automobile has progressed, tires have become wider and heavier, with greater ability to grip the road, adding even extra effort in what would certainly be an arduous task for anyone.

The slightly longer answer would be that steering is normally controlled by a rack and pinion system. This is comprised of two general parts; the shaft which extends from the steering wheel in your car, down to the rack, which lays perpendicular to the shaft across the front wheels of the car. The rack has several other pieces attached at both ends to connect to each front tire. Ultimately, this system will turn the wheels at the correct angles (which are actually not angles of the same degree, for those of you who are not physics buffs) so that the back tires will follow the front tires in the direction they are turning. This allows the car to turn without skidding. The power steering system can come in 3 types; Hydraulic, Hybrid, and Electric. The hydraulic system operates entirely through hydraulics and, you guessed it, requires something hydrated, like fluid! The fluid is “pressured” through the hydraulic pump which sends it to the steering gearbox, where the pressure of the fluid is used to assist in turning the wheels of the car. The “power” in power steering for a hydraulic system comes from the engine and runs constantly as long as your car is turned on. This was considered not energy efficient, as it requires more space and effort from the engine at all times, even when you’re not actually trying to turn the car. The second system, to answer the aforementioned concern, is the Hybrid system. This operates essentially the same way as the hydraulic system, but uses electric power to keep the system running. The electric system operates without fluid, by using a computer to measure how fast you are turning, by what degree, and other factors to calculate how much power is necessary to help you turn the car. The electric system (although often more expensive to fix if it breaks down) was invented to save space and use power more efficiently.

Power steering flush?

The flush is only necessary for the hydraulic or hybrid systems, which use fluid. The idea is to drain the fluid and replace it with fresh power steering fluid. The reason that you would want to flush your power steering fluid is because although it is a fairly clean system with regards to dirt and grime getting into the fluid during function, eventually normal wear and tear on your car and its parts will cause the power steering fluid to become dirty. To flush the power steering fluid, a pipe can be disconnected and allowed to drain all the fluid out, then refilled through the reservoir after the pipe has been reconnected. The second way is more complicated, and involves running the car while allowing some of the fluid to drain as you replace it through the reservoir. This is certainly something that if you’re not car savvy, it is best to let your mechanic take care of. If you have any questions about power steering flushes or if your car might need one, don’t hesitate to give one of our technicians a call at 10 th Street Automotive! You can also schedule an appointment here: