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What is power steering?

Power Assisted Steering, or ‘PAS' as it is also known, is a mechanism that helps you to steer your car. In most vehicles, the PAS relies on a hydraulic system to aid turning the vehicle's wheels. If you have ever driven a car with no Power Steering you will have most certainly noticed the difference between having PAS and not. Power Steering used to be a luxury in certain vehicles, but nowadays it is almost standard in every type of vehicle.

Why is power steering important?

In the early days of the automotive industry, power-assisted steering was a luxury and was only available in high-end vehicles. Most new cars now have it as standard. That’s because they’ve become heavier, with wider tyres and front wheel drive, and would be extremely difficult to drive without PAS. This makes a car not only more pleasant to drive, but safer to drive too.

How does power steering work?

Hydraulic power-assisted steering

There are two types of hydraulic power-assisted steering: rack & pinion and the recirculating ball. Rack & pinion is the most common. The recirculating ball is far less common and only really exists in vans and trucks. Both have high-pressure hoses that connect the steering rack to the two sides of the centre seal. One hose sends hydraulic fluid from the power-steering pump to the steering mechanism, while the other directs fluid back to the pump. When turned left or right, the steering wheel’s steering mechanism allows the hydraulic fluid to pass to respective side of the steering rack, pushing the seal and rack in the necessary direction.

Electric power-assisted steering

Electric power-assisted steering is fully electric. The wheels of the car receive direct assistance from an electric motor which is mounted on either the steering rack or steering column or directly to the steering rack. Sensors decide how much assistance to apply at any time.

What causes power steering problems?

Hydraulic power-assisted steering

When hydraulic fluid lubricates and seals the power-steering pump and hoses to prevent corrosion it can leak or gradually become less effective, making it harder to turn the steering wheel. Typically, a mechanic will check hydraulic fluid levels during an annual service.

Electric power-assisted steering

If the electric motor fails, power-assisted steering will stop working, so the motor would need replacing. As with any electrical system, software problems can occur, necessitating an update.

What are the signs that a car needs power-steering repairs?

  • When you see a transparent fluid patch under the car.
  • If the car’s steering wheel feels harder to turn than normal.
  • When there’s a squeaking or groaning noise when turning the wheel of the car.

How long does a power-steering repair take?

  • 1 - 2 hours.

How much does a repair to power steering cost?

  • Up to £1,000, but could be much less depending on your type of car and the labour rate of the garage you select.

Driving in Birmingham

Birmingham is the second largest and most populous UK city after London, a fact which might go some way to explaining why it’s simply stuffed with things to do and see. Six universities keep the place youthful with a vibrant and multi-cultural grassroots art, music and literary scene. Birmingham’s international reputation has been built on its many celebrated cultural institutions. As well as housing the world’s largest pre-Raphaelite collection of artwork, the city is home to the Birmingham Royal Ballet, the Symphony Orchestra, the Repertory Theatre and the Barber Institute of Fine Arts as well a diverse range of other arts, theatre and music venues.

You’ll find high street and designer shops at the Bullring and Mailbox centres, and if vintage chic is more your thing then wander the quirky East Side for some unique finds. Birmingham’s drink and food scene is currently thriving, with exotic flavours catering for all tastes. It also boasts four Michelin-starred restaurants (more than any city in England except London) and street food that’s hard to beat. It may be a tightly populated place but Brummies love their green spaces. As well as the splendid Birmingham Botanical Gardens there are an additional five hundred and seventy-one parks to choose from - more than any other European city.

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