A power steering eases driving stress, and drivers don’t have to put much effort into turning the wheels.
However, it has become standard in vehicles, so it’s difficult to feel the difference anymore.
When everyone has it, it’s as though no one does. So let’s find out if some Luddite cars can give you the old crude experience.
Here’s the short answer to whether all cars have power steering today:
Not all vehicles today have power steering. Still, please don’t hold your breath looking for a car without it. Chances are, any car you buy today would have one. This is because only a handful of cars today do not have them.
Is the Power Steering Standard on All New Cars Today?
Almost. Except for cars like the Alfa Romeo 4C, the power steering is standard in new vehicles today.
The power steering today is also different from the earliest ones. They have undergone multiple improvements over the years, and there are even several types widely in use today.
The constant improvements have made driving way more manageable and better.
An advantage of the power steering being standard today is that it has encouraged driving among the wider population. Without them, it’s hard to imagine teenagers driving cars.
Driving would’ve majorly been an activity for racers and truck drivers; who knows?
What Year Was the Power Steering Introduced?
The Chrysler Imperial was the first car to commercialize a power steering in 1951. The 1952 Cadillac was also fitted with one.
As you now know, the technology has been widely adopted since then.
This was expected because of its many advantages. For example, drivers could now drive for longer periods due to less fatigue. Also, fewer steering rotations were needed to turn the car’s wheels.
Driving would be more strenuous if you drive a car from the 50s or 60s without a power steering.
When Did the Power Steering Become Standard on New Cars?
Its standardization has been in motion from as early as the 1960s. Since then, the power steering has been an option in American cars. Some brands even featured it as standard on some of their vehicles.
Today, the power steering comes standard on new cars worldwide. So it’s hard to imagine a car without it.
What Does the Power Steering Fluid Do?
It helps in decreasing the amount of effort used to steer the wheel.
It also lubricates the moving parts and prevents corrosion. This keeps the vehicle working at its best.
The fluid color is commonly transparent, red, pink or amber. It may be expired or contaminated if it turns dark brown or foamy.
That said, you find less fluids in electric cars.
How Exactly Does the Power Steering Work?
It uses hydraulic or electric devices and components to reduce the steering effort of drivers. It leverages on the fluids or programming to direct the front wheels.
Cars without power steering used plain rack and pinion steering systems.
How to Check and Add Power Steering Fluid?
In most cars, the reservoir is under the hood and may be mounted on the pump or elsewhere. However, it is usually close to the car engine.
Many cars today use similar types of power steering fluids. Still, some vehicles require specified types.
For example, Honda vehicles use a specific fluid; else, the system may not work properly.
So ensure you check your manual for your fluid specifications. The type of fluid you should use for your power steering is usually written on the cover of the reservoir, and it can even be a type of transmission fluid.
Not using the correct fluid may have repercussions. You should also check your fluid level monthly, and you’d need to top it up if it goes too low.
Ensure your car isn’t parked on a slope when checking your fluid level. Instead, it should be perfectly balanced on the ground. You’d get inaccurate fluid readings if it’s parked on a slope.
It is better to check the fluid level after a drive. So if you haven’t driven your car in a while, let your engine run and flex your steering wheel first.
A reservoir would normally have “minimum” and “maximum” levels indicated on its body. Your only job is to ensure the fluid is between these two levels. If it’s less than the “minimum” mark, fill it until it gets closer to the “maximum” mark.
What Are the Main Types of Power Steering Used Today?
The power steering systems in vehicles today are Hydraulic, Electric and Hybrid. So let’s see what they’re all about.
Hydraulic Power Steering (HPS)
Early steering systems relied on reduction gear ratios to reduce the required steering input from the driver. These systems got improved with hydraulic assistance.
The hydraulic pump creates a flow within the steering system and provides the force needed to operate the steering gear. This pump is usually by the engine crankshaft.
The vane pump is the most common type of hydraulic pump used.
These vanes push the fluid to the outlet side of the pump housing. It then passes through a flow and pressure relief valve before entering the supply hoses.
The Electric Power Steering (EPS)
The EPS has many benefits.
They provide better fuel economy because the car’s weight reduces with them. With an EPS, there’s also no need for a pump, hose or even hydraulic fluid.
It is programmed to direct the wheels on where to turn based on the driver’s steering movement. They also need less maintenance. This might be the most significant advantage to drivers who despise car routine maintenance.
Its efficiency is a unique big idea. However, some experts still insist that the hydraulic power steering provides the best driving experience.
Hybrid Electrohydraulic Power Steering (HEHPS)
The hybrid power steering consists of hydraulic and electric components.
It works like a hydraulic-assist system. However, in this case, an electric motor creates the pressure rather than using an external pump from the engine.
It also eliminates wasted-energy complaints that are consistent with other types.
These Cars Don’t Have Power Steering
The last cars that didn’t have power steering were sports cars or very light vehicles. However, since they are lighter, turning is generally less strenuous than on heavy-duty trucks and SUVs.
Alfa Romeo 4C
The Italian-made Alfa Romeo 4C has more features from the past. It’s a modern car that gives drivers the old-school feeling you get from driving classics.
Though production only halted in 2020, the Alfa Romeo was not produced with a power steering. Instead, the absence of a power steering gives you raw control of your car.
We also know this has nothing to do with the cost factor since they’re pretty expensive. Cruising the Alfa Romeo 4C can be amusing and thrilling for anyone who can afford it.
You can get one for only $68,000.
The Lotus Elise had no power steering, even up to the 2011 model (as far as we can tell).
Despite that, it has excellent handling and exceptional performance. Speaking about performance, the Elise SC can speed up from 0 to 60 mph in less than 5 seconds.
There’s not much to be said about the “Acura NSX from the 90s”.
Although the 2022 Acura NSX has an electric power steering, older models did not. They sorely relied on raw handling from the driver.
Do Power Steering Have Any Problems?
Although they’re mostly packed with benefits, power steering systems have their problems. So let’s discuss a couple of them.
- Faulty hose: The hose transports the hydraulic fluid to other parts of the system. If you experience much strain while driving, it’s probably not doing its job right. A damaged hose can’t supply the fluid to the needed components. So you’d have to replace it.
- Fluid leakage: Leakage can be caused by many reasons, including a faulty hose. The other components could also be failing due to wear and tear. When the fluid continues leaking, the steering becomes rigid and stiff. Hence, you should check the system for leakage if you notice such difficulty while driving.
- Failing pump: In hydraulic power steering systems, a faulty pump won’t get the fluid through the system, preventing it from building adequate pressure to make it easy to turn the steering wheel. If the power steering pump is faulty, you can repair or replace it.
If your steering wheel suddenly becomes difficult to turn, there’s probably an issue with the power steering system. Check that the reservoir contains adequate fluid. If not, top it up.
Otherwise, call your mechanic and find out your repair or replacement options.
How Hard Is It to Drive a Car With No Power Steering?
The car weight matters in this case and heavy cars with no power steering are much more challenging to drive.
Lightweight cars can quickly go in the direction you want them to with little effort.
Try to think of how difficult it’ll be to push a car down a street. Driving without a power steering is almost like tilting car wheels with your bare human effort.
The power steering is like a microphone that amplifies your voice. Without the mic, you’re going to have to shout.
So if there’s no such system to amplify your efforts, every muscle counts. It’d be much more difficult to drive an SUV than a sports car.
You’d feel the effects more at lower speeds.