In automobiles, power steering (also known as power assisted steering (PAS) or steering assist system) helps drivers steer by augmenting steering effort of the steering wheel.
Hydraulic or electric actuators add controlled energy to the steering mechanism, so the driver needs to provide only modest effort regardless of conditions. Power steering helps considerably when a vehicle is stopped or moving slowly. Also, power steering provides some feedback of forces
acting on the front wheels to give an ongoing sense of how the wheels are interacting with the road; this is typically called "rοad feel".
Representative power steering systems for cars augment steering effort via an actuator, a hydraulic cylinder, which is part of a servo system. These systems have a direct mechanical connection between the steering wheel and the linkage that steers the wheels.
This means that power-steering system failure (to augment effort) still permits the vehicle to be steered using manual effort alone.
Other power steering systems (such as those in the largest off-road construction vehicles) have no direct mechanical connection to the steering linkage; they require power. Systems of this kind, with no mechanical connection, are sometimes called "drive by wire" or "steer by wire", by analogy with aviation's "fly-by-wire". In this context, "wire" refers to electrical cables that carry power and data, not thin-wire-rope mechanical control cables.
In other power steering systems, electric motors provide the assistance instead of hydraulic systems. As with hydraulic types, power to the actuator (motor, in this case) is controlled by the rest of the power-steering system.
Some construction vehicles have a two-part frame with a rugged hinge in the middle; this hinge allows the front and rear axles to become non-parallel to steer the vehicle. Opposing hydraulic cylinders move the halves of the frame relative to each other to steer.
Power steering helps the driver of a vehicle to steer by directing some of the power to assist in swiveling the steered road wheels about their steering axes. As vehicles have become heavier and switched to front wheel drive, particularly using negative offset geometry, along with increases in tire width and diameter, the effort needed to turn the wheels about their steering axis has increased, often to the point where major physical exertion would be needed were it not for power assistance.
To alleviate this auto makers have developed power steering systems: or more correctly power-assisted steering—on road going vehicles there has to be a mechanical linkage as a failsafe. There are two types of power steering systems; hydraulic and electric/electronic. A hydraulic-electric hybrid system is also possible.A hydraulic power steering (HPS) uses hydraulic pressure supplied by an engine-driven pump to assist the motion of turning the steering wheel. Electric power steering (EPS) is more efficient than the hydraulic power steering, since the electric power steering motor only needs to provide assistance when the steering wheel is turned, whereas the hydraulic pump must run constantly.
In EPS, the amount of assistance is easily tunable to the vehicle type, road speed, and even driver preference. An added benefit is the elimination of environmental hazard posed by leakage and disposal of hydraulic power steering fluid. In addition, electrical assistance is not lost when the engine fails or stalls, whereas hydraulic assistance stops working if the engine stops, making the steering doubly heavy as the driver must now turn not only the very heavy steering—without any help—but also the power-assistance system itself.
Speed Sensitive Steering
An outgrowth of power steering is speed sensitive steering, where the steering is heavily assisted at low speed and lightly assisted at high speed. The auto makers perceive that motorists might need to make large steering inputs while manoeuvering for parking, but not while traveling at high speed. The first vehicle with this feature was the Citroën SM with itsDiravi layout, although rather than altering the amount of assistance as in modern power steering systems, it altered the pressure on a centring cam which made the steering wheel try to "spring" back to the straight-ahead position. Modern speed-sensitive power steering systems reduce the mechanical or electrical assistance as the vehicle speed increases, giving a more direct feel. This feature is gradually becoming more common.