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 Corvallis 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.
Corvallis 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 Clayton's Auto Service in Corvallis 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 Clayton's Auto Service. You may need to change your fluid more often depending on the driving and weather conditions in your area.
Corvallis 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.
Most Corvallis drivers 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 Corvallis 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 - or just ask your friendly and knowledgeable pros at Clayton's Auto Service in Corvallis.
The fluid cleans, cools and lubricates the power steering system. It breaks down as the years go by and collects unwanted moisture, so Corvallis 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. Your technician at Clayton's Auto 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 Clayton's Auto Service in Corvallis 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. The team at Clayton's Auto Service also recommends 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. If you drive through water in the Corvallis area, the bearings will need service more often.
Virtually all vehicles come with power steering, so many Corvallis 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 Oregon 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 Clayton's Auto Service in Corvallis includes removing the contaminated fluid and replacing it with fresh fluid.
A word for Corvallis 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 Clayton's Auto Service as advised to avoid undue repairs.
Losing your power steering while driving in Corvallis can be unsettling – just remember that you can still steer, it'll just be harder. Check with your service advisor at Clayton's Auto Service to see if it's time to service your vehicle's power steering system.
In addition to power steering service, at Clayton's Auto Service we offer comprehensive automotive services.
Service to a vehicle's power steering system is part of preventive maintenance for Corvallis 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.
Corvallis 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 Clayton's Auto Service to learn how often this fluid should be replaced.
When your fluid is replaced, your technicians at Clayton's Auto Service 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. Clayton's Auto Service 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 Corvallis 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 Oregon 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. Corvallis 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 Clayton's Auto Service. We can steer you in the right direction when it comes to quality car care.
There was a man in the Corvallis area who learned that most car accidents occur within a mile of home – so he moved. (Just kidding!)
When we think of defensive driving, we often focus on our local Oregon highway situations. The fact of the matter is we need to be just as careful close to home in Corvallis, because that's where we do most of our driving. We can't let our familiar surroundings keep us from driving defensively.
Defensive driving begins with the proper attitude. Have in mind that you won't let anyone take your safety away from you. You'll be aware of your surroundings, road conditions, other vehicles and hazards. And the first person to be concerned with is you: start with your own environment.
Don't leave without securing all occupants including children and pets. Watch for loose items that can become projectiles during evasive maneuvers.
Driving too fast or too slow increases the chance of an accident.
Never drive impaired: Alcohol is a factor in half of all fatal crashes. Never drink and drive.
Other impairments include being sleepy, angry, daydreaming or talking. If you suddenly wonder how you got where you are – you're not paying enough attention.
Keep your windows clean and uncluttered. No fuzzy dice and stickers.
Keep your car in good shape so that it handles properly: Maintain tires, lights, brakes, suspension, wheel alignment and steering.
Always use your turn signals while driving around Corvallis, Oregon. Avoid other vehicles' blind spots.
Don't drive faster than your headlights – if you can't stop within the distance you can see, you're going too fast.
Avoid driving over debris in the road. Even harmless looking items can cause damage or an accident.
Keep your wheels straight when waiting to turn at an intersection in Corvallis . That way if you're hit from behind, your car won't be pushed into on-coming traffic.
My daddy always said that when you drive, you're actually driving five cars: yours, the one in front, the one behind and the ones on either side. You can't trust that other drivers will do the right thing, so you've got to be aware of what they're doing at all times.
If you see another car driving erratically, weaving, crossing lanes, etc., stay back. Take the next right turn if you're downtown Corvallis, or take the next exit on the Oregon highway. Notify the police if you see someone driving dangerously in our Corvallis community.
Never follow too close. The minimum distance is the two second rule. Pick a landmark ahead, like a tree or road marker. When the car in front of you passes it, start counting: 'one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand.' If you pass the landmark before reaching two-one-thousand, you're following too close.
Remember that the two second rule is the minimum – it assumes you're alert and aware. Three seconds is safer. Move out to five seconds or more if it's foggy or rainy.
Someone will inevitably move into your forward safety zone – just drop back and keep a safe distance.
If someone follows you too closely, just move over.
Don't play chicken by contesting your right of way or race to beat someone to a merge. Whoever loses that contest has the potential to lose big and you don't want any part of that. So stay alert, constantly scan around your car and arrive safely.