The steering components that make up the steering system play an important role in overall handling of the vehicle along with its suspension and tires. How the vehicle responds when it is making a turn is basically what is referred to as handling. As you might have noticed, there are vehicles that respond well to the driver. Even with just a light touch of the steering wheel, it will be able to direct the steering system accurately with little effort. The steering components that help achieve great handling include the steering wheel, steering column or shaft, steering gear, drop arm or pitman arm, ball joints, drag link, steering arm, stub axle, tie rod, tie rod arms, spindle, kingpin, and steering stops.
Steering Components: What are the components of the steering system?
The steering system is what converts the steering wheel’s rotational motion into the linear motion that turns the vehicle’s wheels. It is basically the one that makes the car respond whenever you rotate the steering wheel. It is also the one that ensures that you will get a trouble-free course forward. To make all of these happen, the steering system has many steering components that transfer the steering wheel movement into the steering shaft in order to move the wheels left and right.
What are these steering components and their functions? Let’s go through them one by one.
- Steering wheel
The steering wheel, as you might notice, is the one that the drivers use to control the vehicle’s direction. The movement and the steering of the driver will go through a number of joints and hydraulic lines in the steering system to convert it into movements of the wheels of the vehicle.
The modern steering wheel also has several functions built in it like the audio system selection, volume, and cruise control. It also has the traffic indicator switch, light switch, and wiper switch.
- Steering column or shaft
The steering column is said to be one of the most overlooked steering components. It is a tube-like cover that is fixed, covering the steering shaft that is connected to the steering wheel and the steering box. The shaft fitted inside the hollow steering column is the one that rotates when the steering wheel is turned which will then be transmitted to the steering box.
Today's modern vehicles have been built with steering columns that are collapsible. A collapsible steering column is designed and made to ensure that the drivers will not have serious injuries in the event of a heavy frontal impact.
- Steering gear
The steering gear is one of the steering components and is said to be the heart of the steering system. It is the one that transfers and converts the motion from the steering wheel, multiplying its rotational force into the needed force to move the steering linkage which makes the vehicle steer. It multiplies the force or the effort of the drivers so they don’t have to do a lot of work in order to turn the vehicle.
- Drop arm or pitman arm
Whatever the motion the driver makes, the steering gear shaft turns in direct relation to this motion. The pitman arm connects to the steering gear shafts and functions as a lever that converts the steering gear’s torque to mechanical force needed for the movement of the steering linkage.
The pitman arm or the drop arm has a splined arm that is connected to the steering gear and a threaded bearing stud and seat. The threaded bearing stud’s lower part is covered with a protective dust boot to keep the dirt from entering into the bearing and seat while its upper part is connected to the center link of the steering linkage.
- Ball joints
The ball joints are round bearings that are connected at both ends of the tie rod and the drag link. It is a steering component that does the angular displacement, the drag link and the tie rod’s rotational movements created by the rotation of the front wheels and suspension articulation.
- Drag link
The drag link is one of the steering components and its task is to transfer the rotating motion from the gearbox to the wheels when the steering wheel is turned so the vehicle can be steered. The drag link is considered as one of the main steering components in the whole steering system.
The drag link is commonly found on larger trucks and vans or in vehicles that are equipped with a steering system that is a steering gear type. It is a component that links the steering gear box of the vehicle to the tie rod ends. Its one side is connected to the pitman arm while the other is connected to a fixed pivot point with its ends connecting to the tie rods.
- Steering arm
The steering arm is the one that directs the input from the steering box to its components. It transmits the turning force received from the steering gear to the drag link. It puts in pressure from the steering box to the tie rods which leads to the turning of the tires from left to right or right to left.
- Stub axle
The stub axle is attached to the front wheels of the vehicle with the kingpins which connects the stub axle to the front axle. Like mentioned earlier, the motion is transmitted to the pitman arm through the gearbox when the steering wheel is turned. The said motion will then be transmitted to the drag link which will transfer the movement to the slub axle that rotates about the kingpin. The stub axle helps turn the right wheel.
- Tie rod
The left and the right tie rod arms are connected by the tie rod and between these two steering components, the force is transmitted. The tire rod ends consist of female threads while the ball joint shafts have the male threads. These threaded connections are joined together by locking clamps.
The tie rod is one of the most important steering components. It is the one that connects to both of the front wheels of the vehicle and allows steering. It is necessary that you have a good, working tie rod since it can help provide a smooth and responsive steering.
- Spindle, kingpin, and tie rod arms.
The spindle is the one that ties the control arms, ball joints, springs, and the steering system together. It also gives a mounting for the wheel assembly. It is usually a forged metal component that is used for mounting the ball joints on both at the top and bottom. An axle hub is fitted in the middle of the spindle where the wheels and its bearings are also fastened. It also has a fitting to mount other steering components and the anti-sway bar. When the vehicle moves as it is driven down the road, the wheel pushes the spindle up and down making it rotate vertically right or left by the steering. The motion that occurs will then be transmitted through the ball joints, control arms, steering components, and the stabilizer assemblies.
The kingpin is the one that attaches the spindle to the steering axle beam and is known to be one of the main steering components. The tie rod arms are the ones that connect the spindles to each other by the tie rod cross tube.
- Steering stops
The steering stops function to limit the front wheel’s angular deflections. It also keeps the tires from rubbing against the frame caused by the tires’ wear and tear. The steering stops are being used at two different places – one can be found fixed in the steering arm or the drop arm’s path of motion and the second one is fixed in the steering knuckle’s path of motion.
Steering Components: What is the main function of steering?
Knowing the steering components makes you understand how the steering system works and how these components work together to achieve a smooth and responsive drive. But the steering system is not just something to help you steer your vehicle to the direction you wanted, but it also has a number of functions that ensures that your vehicle can provide a comfortable ride.
Here are some of the main functions of the steering system:
- To regulate the direction of the vehicle.
One of the main functions of the steering system is to regulate or control the direction of the vehicle through turning its front wheels to whatever direction the driver wants or needs. You can either turn it right or left when you rotate the steering wheel.
- Give stability when the vehicle is running.
The steering system can also provide your vehicle stability when you are driving it. It manages the direction of the front wheels to always move together and be positioned in the same direction. This ensures that the vehicle will be stable when it is running or being driven on the road.
- Keeps the vibration from getting to the steering wheel.
Another function of the steering system is to keep the vibration from getting to the steering wheel. The steering system along with all of its steering components, work together with the vehicle’s suspension system to prevent road vibrations from the steering wheel.
The steering components work together to lessen the vibrations from the wheels. One example is the ball joints that work flexibly and allow the steering system to follow the wheel movements. Then there is the collapsible steering joint that is used to decrease vibrations that can happen in the steering linkage connection. Bushings and cushions installed in the steering system can also keep the vibration of the wheels from getting to the steering wheel.
- Reduces tire wear.
The steering system can also reduce tire wear that can help prolong the lifespan of the tire. It is designed and built to carry out the needed steering angles along with the suspension system such as the caster angle, camber angle, kingpin inclinations, or the toe in and toe out.
The said steering angles can regulate the position of the vehicle’s two front wheels to make a comfortable, gentle, and steady driving operation to lessen the tire surface’s wear level. The steering angles also enable the wheels to return to its normal position after every turn making it even more convenient to drive and steer.
Steering Components: What are the common steering problems?
The steering components work together to make the steering system run smoothly and accurately. However, like many parts of the vehicle, these steering components can become faulty too.
One of the common steering problems is when you experience difficulty in turning the wheel even at rest or when you are driving at lower speeds. This can be caused by a faulty power steering, worn components, a fluid leak, or a low power steering fluid.
Another common steering problem is when there is no response from the steering wheel or when it feels loose. This problem can be caused by worn steering components.
A steering wheel that is vibrating or shaking can also indicate that there is a problem with your steering system. You may experience it when you are turning or when driving at high speeds. This problem can get worse over time and you may experience a speed wobble if it is not repaired immediately. When you experience this problem or any steering problem, it is best that you have your vehicle repaired as soon as possible since extreme shaking can cause your vehicle to be difficult to control which can lead to an accident.
A vehicle that steers to the left or right without you controlling it is also one of the steering problems. It won’t maintain a straight direction or will be hard to return the steering wheel to the center. This is a problem that needs to be corrected right away since it can compromise your safety and the people around you.
The steering system along with all its steering components have been built to maneuver the vehicle easily. The steering system is basically the one that converts the motion of the steering wheel into tire motions. It enables the drivers to steer the wheel easily and accurately even with little effort. It is important that you take good care of your steering components and follow the recommended service and maintenance to ensure that it will continue to function properly and won’t cause any problem.