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How Does Electric Power Steering Work?

Brent Dunn
by Brent Dunn
March 3, 2014

Electric power steering is a system that uses an electric motor to provide power assist instead of the traditional hydraulic pump driven by a belt on the front of the engine. Some systems use a purely electric design while others use an electrically powered hydraulic pump with a system similar to traditional power steering setups. The purely electric systems use sensors to detect steering wheel position and the amount of torque applied by the driver during steering inputs and then uses an electric motor attached to the steering column or rack to provide the appropriate amount of assistance for the specific driving situation. These systems can also be easily configured to provide more assistance at low speeds for easy parking and less assistance at high speeds for greater stability. Many systems can even be adjusted by the driver to change from a comfortable to more sporty mode. Because electric power steering is more efficient than its hydraulic alternative and can function even when the engine is stopped it is especially popular on electric and hybrid vehicles, and electric power steering is now found on the majority of new cars.


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