Electric VS Hydraulic Power Steering Comparison


Every car on the road today has power steering. Otherwise, drivers would be forced to use all their strength just to turn the steering wheel in one direction. This would certainly cause accidents because drivers need to make their turns within a second or two. If they are forced to struggle with the steering wheel, they won’t be able to make their turns fast enough in traffic. Thanks to the technological wonders of power steering, it does not take much strength at all for drivers to turn their steering wheel.

There are two types of power steering which are still used today. There is hydraulic power steering and electric power steering. Each one serves the same basic purpose of power steering by allowing you to easily turn the wheel. The difference between these two types of power steering relates to how they function. We will go over each type now.

Hydraulic Power Steering

Hydraulic power steering is one of the earliest forms of power steering technology. This system is comprised of various components and parts, such as a pump, pulley, drive belt, hoses, and power steering fluid. They all work together to create the hydraulic power which the steering wheel needs to turn so easily. But let’s examine how this pressure is created.

The engine of your car contains a rotary vane pump which produces hydraulic pressure at just the right time. Whenever your turn or rotate the steering wheel, the pump will generate more hydraulic pressure to increase the power of the force as you’re turning the wheel. The pressure increases because additional hydraulic fluid enters the hydraulic cylinder from the valves. Once that happens, the steering gear receives pressure from the cylinder and causes the wheels to move along with the steering.

Electric Power Steering

Electric power steering uses fewer components than the hydraulic power steering. Electric power steering mostly depends on the electric motor to create the necessary pressure. The steering rack of this power steering system will contain the electric motor and precious sensors. These sensors will measure the exact torque of the driver. In other words, when the driver turns the steering wheel, the engine will generate a specific level of electricity to sustain the demand of this torque. The electricity will only be generated if the steering wheel is turned. This prevents precious power in the vehicle from being wasted. It also means that your engine will last longer, and you won’t need to make repairs so frequently.

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So, which type of power steering is better? Most car experts and manufacturers will tell you that electric power steering is better. How can it not be? The electric power steering system is so simplified with just a few components. The hydraulic power steering system contains so many components, which means that it is more likely to fail. Then you will be spending more money on repair costs associated with that system.

Aside from the power steering systems themselves, let’s talk about their overall impact on the vehicle. Hydraulic power steering uses 90% more of the engine’s power and resources than electric power steering. With all that wear and tear on the engine, it is going to shorten its lifespan considerably. Despite the name, electric power steering does not require nearly as much power to perform the same function. You can preserve the life of your engine if you choose to use electric power steering in your vehicle. You won’t even need to do much maintenance on your vehicle either.

If you still prefer the hydraulic power steering because it is more reliable, just be aware of all the extra costs associated with its maintenance and possible future repairs.


1 comment

  1. Ian 17 July, 2019 at 04:17 Reply

    The only thing I agree with in this article is with the statement regarding increased use of engine resources wing HPS. My agreement ends there.

    I grew up in the days when there was very little usage of power steering at all. I’ve driven trucks of 35,000 lbs to 70,000 lbs GVW with manual steering and manual transmissions with no difficulty or accidents. A few race cars too. There are innumerable folks who done the same. However, power steering is nice as long as it’s reasonably heavy and has quick, accurate return-to-center. Rack & Pinion steering is good for that.

    Reliability – I have driven nearly 750,000 miles in vehicles with that archaic, wasteful HPS and my service amounted to one hydraulic cylinder flush. I’ve never had an engine suffer from HPS to my knowledge. My car’s engines have all lasted a very, very long time. Just change the oil regularly and frequently. One of my cars, though it didn’t have power steering, went over 600,000 miles with only minor engine work. On the other hand, one of our current cars has EPS and it is in need of its second EPS service and the vehicle has yet to log 100,000 miles.

    Performance – The steering in the younger car, a sports sedan, wanders, is dead on center, does not return to center and is slow. It takes more arm movement to get pointed in the direction that you want to go than with my older HPS vehicle, a minivan, which has more than double the mileage. It seems crazy that I can get much better performance and handling from an 11-year old minivan than I can from a 7-year old sports sedan. Both vehicles are from the same manufacturer.

    Overall, my HPS vehicles, past and present, toast the electronic gadget that occupies a space in my driveway. Things break. Many of these components are too delicate to survive outdoors unless they are mil-spec. I have found the EPS wunderkind far more costly to buy and to own than my older style cars. Maybe you never experienced the good stuff.

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