Steering

There are many drivers who are too young to remember life before power steering – cranking those great big steering wheels! It was a pretty good workout. Now power steering is standard. Let’s look at how it works. The heart of any power steering system is its pump. The pump pressurizes the power steering fluid that provides assist for steering. Most pumps are driven by a belt that is run by the engine; a few are electrically powered. A high-pressure hose passes fluid from the pump to the steering gear. A low pressure hose returns the fluid back to the pump.

These hoses can develop leaks, so it is a good idea for drivers to have them inspected at every oil change. Low fluid can damage the power steering pump. That is why power steering fluid level is on the checklist for a full-service oil change. The fluid needs to be compatible with the hoses and seals, so check your owner’s manual for the right type.

The fluid cleans, cools and lubricates the power steering system. It breaks down as the years go by and collects unwanted moisture, so Albuquerque drivers need to replace it from time to time. Many vehicle manufacturers specify power steering service intervals. Unfortunately, this important service is sometimes left off the car maintenance schedule for many of us. So, when in doubt, every 25,000 miles/40,000 km or two years is a good fallback. Our signature service will use a detergent to clean the system, flush out the old fluid and replace it with the good stuff.

Here are some  warning signs of trouble with your power steering: It’s harder to turn the wheel, there’s erratic power assist, you hear loud whining coming from the pump (which may be difficult to hear over the loud whining coming from the backseat), you have to top-off the fluid frequently, or you hear squealing belts. Remember to never hold the steering wheel to the far right or left for more than a few seconds at a time. That will wear out your power steering pump quickly.

Other steering components can be bent or damaged from wear or hard knocks: ball-joint, idler-arm, steering-gear, steering-knuckle and tie rod to name a few. Warning signs here are steering play, wandering, uneven tire wear and an off-center steering wheel. An annual alignment check at Jay Walton Automotive will reveal bent or damaged steering components.

Most SUV’s, pick-ups and rear-wheel-drive cars need regular front-wheel-bearing service.

The bearings should be cleaned and inspected. If they are excessively worn, they need to be replaced. The bearings are then repacked in clean grease. Our certified technicians also recommend the wheel-seal be replaced when the bearings are serviced. Like everything else, check your owners’ manual maintenance schedule. It’s usually required around every two years or 40,000 miles/64,000 km.

Suspension

Your vehicle’s suspension system has two jobs: to prevent the passengers from getting tossed around inside the vehicle every time it hits a bump in the road and to keep the tires firmly planted on the road around every corner and over every bump.

To see your suspension system, you’ll have to look under your vehicle. Anything that connects the wheels to the vehicle’s frame is part of the suspension system. They’re heavy-duty parts that work hard while you’re driving and take a lot of wear and tear. Because of this, you should have your technician look at them once a year as part of your preventive maintenance routine. A good time for it is every time you get your alignment checked.

If your suspension is in trouble, you often feel it in how your vehicle drives. You should get a check of your suspension system: if the vehicle pulls to one side or wanders, if the steering is erratic, if your ride isn’t as smooth as it should be, or if your vehicle handles poorly. Uneven tire wear can also indicate worn parts in your suspension system. If your shocks are leaking oil then they definitely need to be replaced. All in all, if you don’t feel in control when you’re driving, go get your suspension inspected.