Steering Suspension FAQs
While there is no hard and fast rule here, many experts agree that your power steering fluid should be flushed somewhere between every 30,000 and 60,000 miles. Additionally, be alert to any signs of dirty fluid or noise coming out of the power steering—a good indicator that it’s time for a fluid change. Contact Meineke’s team to learn more about what a flush actually entails.
There are a number of different power steering fluids to match different hydraulic steering systems—and if you plan to replace your fluid, it’s important to know which type of fluid you should be using. Often, you can find out by consulting your owner’s manual. If your manual doesn’t specify, you might contact the local dealership, or simply bring your car to Meineke and have our professionals figure it out.
There are several telltale signs of a bad power steering pump—among them: You hear noise while turning the wheel; the wheel is sluggish in its response; the wheel seems stiff or difficult to move; you hear a squealing sound when the engine starts; or, you notice groaning noises. The latter is the worst of these warning signs—and it may even indicate total system failure from a lack of fluid.
There is no real lifespan for power steering pumps, but in general, they’re made to last a good long while. Many motorists will get at least 100,000 miles out of their power steering pump. If you are concerned about your power steering pump failing, at any mileage, we invite you to make an appointment with the service technicians at Meineke today.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to provide an exact quote for this service, as it can vary wildly depending on the type and age of your power steering pump. The best way to find out is to call your local Meineke location and let them know what you’re driving; they can give you a more individualized and specific estimate, including both labor and parts.
If your steering wheel is difficult to turn, there could be a few different reasons for it. Some of the most common reasons include a bad steering rack; a broken serpentine belt; leaky power steering fluid; the failure of your power steering pump; or fluid that’s too thick and needs to be flushed out. Call the Meineke team to set up an appointment and have your steering issues diagnosed and repaired.
While it is uncommon for power steering fluids to completely freeze, they can become thicker and more sluggish at lower temperatures. If you find that your power steering fluid has thickened, and it makes your wheel difficult to turn, you may want to flush the system, replacing it with new fluid. For help with any of this, don’t hesitate to call your local Meineke service team.
There are a number of potential causes of a shaky steering wheel. These potential causes include unbalanced wheels; misalignment of your vehicle and its wheels; bad bearings on the wheel hubs; suspension issues; or even problems with your brakes. It’s definitely something to take seriously, and to have checked out by a trained service tech Akins Auto Repair
Suspension Systems Designs
In a car with independent suspension, each individual wheel moves up or down independently without affecting other wheels. There are two main independent suspension designs:
- Double-arm control uses two triangular control arms, one above and one below each wheel, to attach it to the chassis. The arms move vertically, and ball joints with spindles attach both arms to the wheel hub. Between each lower control arm and the underside of the frame is a coil spring wrapped around a shock absorber; the two work together to smooth the car’s ride over even the bumpiest of roads.
- McPherson strut—not to be confused with a dance move—is a design common on European vehicles. It uses a single control arm that is attached to the lower side of the steering knuckle. A weight-bearing strut and coil spring are attached directly to the top of the steering knuckle.
Both double-arm and the McPherson suspensions use sway bars to transfer movement from one side of the car to the other to prevent it from flipping over in a turn. The sway bars are attached to the chassis by sway bar end links and sway bar bushings.
The second design, a live (solid) axle, moves up and down like a see-saw, affecting the height of the wheel on the opposite side. Although less adept at maintaining traction, this type of suspension is stronger and more common on rear axles, and is especially common on trucks.
Live axle designs commonly use leaf springs rather than coil springs, shocks, or struts. Although this arrangement doesn’t effectively provide a comfortable ride, it better distributes loads evenly, which is why this type of suspension is generally found on trucks and larger vehicles.
Most cars use a rack-and-pinion steering system in which the steering wheel turns a steering shaft that is connected to a pinion gear. This gear moves a steering rack left and right. The rack has two arms attached to it called tie rods, which connect to the steering arm and steer the wheels.
Recirculating-ball steering, often found on larger vehicles, has a design much like a nut and bolt. The bolt is a worm gear, which is attached to the steering shaft. But unlike a bolt, when the worm gear turns, it remains stationary. The nut, or ball nut rack, is a threaded block that moves forward and backward. The ball nut rack is connected to a pitman arm, which moves tie rods to turn the front wheels. Between the threaded block of the ball nut rack and the worm gear are little steel balls, which recirculate to reduce friction and wear, and remove slop from the steering.
Power steering can be found in both systems. It uses hydraulic power to provide mechanical assistance to steer the vehicle. Power steering systems use belt-driven pump and pressurized steering fluid carried through hoses to push a cylinder and exert extra force on the steering rack. It makes moving the wheels almost effortless for a driver.