Steering gearbox systems have a huge impact on the vehicle’s overall performance, and choosing the right steering gear can go a long way in prolonging the life of the vehicle and saving money in the long run. Hence, steering gear boxes must be maintained and kept in a good condition and it’s of great value to know when it’s time for a replacement.
Table of ContentsWhat is a steering gear and what does it do?Understanding the different types of steering gear boxesHow to maintain steering gears in good condition4 common symptoms of a faulty steering gearPicking the perfect steering gear brand and modelAvoid costly mistakes when purchasing steering gear boxes
What is a steering gear and what does it do?
Simply put, a steering gear (or steering box) is the heart of the vehicle’s steering system. It converts the driver’s input into rotational motion which is then delivered to the wheels. Depending on the type, a steering gear consists of a rack or protractor plate, a pinion or wheel, a power cylinder, and tie rods among other items.
There are different types of steering gears, including manual, hydraulic, electric, and power-assisted rack and pinions. All these serve the same purpose but do it differently in terms of how they aid drivers in turning their vehicles and implementing commands with minimal effort.
Understanding the different types of steering gear boxes
Manual steering gears
Manual steering gears are the most basic type of steering system. The driver’s input is transferred to the steering wheel, which in turn rotates the shaft and moves the sector. The sector is then connected through a pitman’s arm to a short lever that is attached to a rod with two ball joints.
Manual steering gears were used in almost all vehicles until the emergence of power steering. Nowadays, manual steering is preferred in old or antique vehicles.
Power steering gears
Power steering gears are the heart of any power steering system. They reduce the effort required to turn the wheels of a vehicle. This makes it easier to maneuver the vehicle at low speeds, which is helpful when parking, making tight turns and navigating busy streets.
There are two different types of power steering gears: hydraulic and electric.
The hydraulic system uses mechanically pumped high-pressure fluid to move the piston in the cylinder, which turns the engine’s crankshaft. This is the most common type of power steering gear found in cars today.
On the contrary, the electric system uses an electric motor, sensors, and an electronic control unit (ECU) to assist with turning the wheel. The ECU is programmed based on what it detects from sensors like speed and torque to determine how much force to apply when turning.
How to maintain steering gears in good condition
To ensure the steering gears are in good condition, it’s essential to carry out regular maintenance. This prevents costly repairs and prolongs the life of the steering system.
Use proper lubricants
Proper lubrication is essential to the health of steering gears. If a steering gear is not lubed properly, it will wear out prematurely. The lubricant should be compatible with the metal; that is, it shouldn’t chemically attack the internal parts. For example, synthetic greases can cause the rubber seal material to swell and degrade, eventually leading to leakage.
Maintain a proper reservoir level
The power steering fluid reservoir should be regularly checked and topped off to maintain a proper reservoir level. Low fluid levels can have negative impacts on all the components within the power steering system, especially the power steering pump. Correct fluid levels will ensure that all components inside the box are immersed and lubricated correctly.
Inspect the power steering pump and belt
Inspecting and maintaining the power steering pump can help drivers avoid costly repairs in the long run. The power steering pump is typically driven by a belt that’s connected to the engine. Because of this, it’s critical to inspect the belt for signs of cracking or other damage on a regular basis.
4 common symptoms of a faulty steering gear
As with any mechanical system, the steering gear can wear out over time and eventually fail due to a number of possible causes. Here are some common symptoms that may indicate the steering gearbox is in need of replacement.
Steering fluid leak
The most common symptom associated with a problem with the steering gear is a noticeable power steering fluid leak. Leaks can occur as a result of general wear and tear over time or from damage that occurs during an impact or accident. A leak in the power steering system can cause a loss of pressure, which in turn can lead to difficult or stiff turning at low speeds, or even to a total failure of the steering mechanism.
Grinding or humming noises
Some gears will make noises when they operate for an extended period.
A worn-out bearing or loose internal parts can cause this noise if they are not operating properly within the gear assembly. But it should be noted that sometimes, the noises are just caused by a lack of lubrification. However, if they persist and get louder over time, then it’s time to have the steering gear inspected by an expert mechanic.
Vibration or shaking of the wheels
A lot of people think vibration from their car’s steering wheel means they need new tires, but it can also be a symptom of worn-out or damaged steering gear. As components within the steering gear begin to wear, they will become looser and not as tight as they once were. This allows for more movement or play within the steering gear itself and can cause vibration or shaking of the wheels and suspension system.
Difficulty in turning at slow speeds
In the event that the vehicle is having trouble turning at slow speeds, chances are that a mechanical issue is present somewhere in the steering system. If the steering gearbox is malfunctioning or has failed in some way, it may be extremely difficult or impossible to turn or maneuver the vehicle at slow speeds, like when parking for example.
A faulty steering gear can lead to other problems
A faulty steering gear can lead to additional problems such as premature tire wear and damage to other components of the steering system, including loose or worn tie rods and ball joints. This is why it’s important to repair or replace it as soon as possible because it can cause other issues in the system, such as undue stress on other components and excessive wear and tear throughout the system.
Picking the perfect steering gear brand and model
There are many factors to consider when it comes to choosing the right steering gear, but the most prominent factors are the manufacturer’s brand and the vehicle fitment.
The first choice is of course buying from the original channel or famous well-established brands. There are many advantages to this, such as high precision and reliability, as well as a guarantee against parts failure. Nevertheless, this option may be costly and time-consuming when it comes to replacement.
For instance, many original manufacturers will ask their customers to send back the faulty steering gear to get it repaired or replaced, and this can take several days, or even weeks if the original brand has no distribution offices nearby.
From an economic perspective, white labels from the aftermarket channel are more cost-effective than those from the original channel or famous brands. White label brands on Alibaba.com can offer their own unique features, such as quality assurance, better pricing, and more control over distribution.
Vehicle installation and fitting
When it comes to steering systems, no two vehicles are going to be alike. This is why it’s so important to make sure the steering gear is compatible with the vehicle model.
The power steering gear 442000K020 is ideal for Toyota Hilux as it reduces the noise that comes from the engine. It also offers a smoother driving experience, thus making it one of the best picks for those who love driving their vehicles around in the city.
Another option is the steering gear 45500-02130, which is suitable for Toyota Corolla due to its low price and high efficiency. Moreover, it has an adjustable tensioner so that the driver can easily adjust it according to the desired comfort level.
Last but not least, the power steering gearbox 4411035290 is the archetypal option for Toyota pickups as it has an externally adjustable tensioner and can be used with both manual and automatic transmissions.
The electric steering gear EB5Z3504A is a good fit for Ford Explorer. This rack and pinion gear has been designed with a rotary valve and a ball bearing for its smooth operation.
Next is the steering gear VP657C-35510, which is compatible with Ford Mondeo. Its robustness makes it able to withstand harsh road conditions, such as potholes and bumps that are common on all-weather roads.
Meanwhile, the hydraulic rack and pinion 4M513200GD is a suitable option for Ford Focus and Ford C-Max models. This rack and pinion gear is designed with improved seal technology to minimize leaks.
The refurbished steering rack 19330484 is a cost-effective option for Chevrolet Express. It comes with a pitman shaft, which guarantees better performance and improves the car handling on the road, allowing for a more direct feel.
Another great option is the hydraulic power steering rack 9020408; it’s designed specifically for Chevrolet Aveo and is known for its superior functionality and high-quality construction.
Finally, there’s the hydraulic steering gear 96518943, which is ideal for Chevrolet Spark as it allows the driver to enjoy smooth operation and effortless handling of the vehicle.
The mechanical power steering gearbox 89109986 is ideal for the Isuzu Trooper models. It enhances maneuverability, improves handling, and makes driving safer, especially over long distances.
On the other hand, the hydraulic power steering gear 8-97946130-1 is ideal for Isuzu D-Max as it reduces the effort needed to steer, providing more power and torque.
Not least of all, the power steering rack 8979435190 is the perfect choice for Isuzu Rodeo pickups as it allows drivers to easily maneuver their vehicle in tight spaces by providing precise control over every turn with minimal effort.
Avoid costly mistakes when purchasing steering gear boxes
The steering gear is an important component of the vehicle. When it fails, it can cause a great deal of trouble and also cost a significant amount of money to repair.
To help avoid such costly mistakes, these compiled in-depth guides will assist automotive businesses and wholesalers with making faultless purchasing decisions when considering steering gear boxes or other vehicle parts and accessories.