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Steering - Tips on check-up, common defects and replacement

The steering and the chassis allows the driver to maneuver the car. The main function of the chassis and steering is to keep the vehicle controllable at any speed. An intact steering and chassis keep the car controllable even at high speeds, winding roads and in evasive maneuvers.
Due to enormous forces acting on the vehicle, you notice defects only after losing the control: One to two tones of steel, lurching and flinging around without any means of control, are dangerous even at low speeds. Therefore, just after the brakes, an intact chassis and proper steering are vital.

The components of steering and chassis

The first element in the steering system is the the steering wheel. Today, in most vehicles, the rotational movements of the steering wheel are transmitted to a servo pump, which amplifies the steering forces and transfers them to the steering axis. The steering mechanism in most cars is located on the front axle. It consists of numerous components which together ensure that the wheels turn simultaneously at the desired steering angles. The steering by itself is usually very wear-resistant and lasts for the car's lifetime. The servo pump is expecially susceptible to failure in older cars. Anyway, the servo oil must be regularly checked and if necessary, replaced.
The mechanism that keeps the wheel flexible and protects it against shocks and sudden height changes is also very susceptible to wear. It is composed of numerous components made of massive steel that have rubber and plastic bushings on the movable parts. Ball joints also have a rubber boot, under which they have a ball head conduct that is filled with grease. The steering mechanism is strongly affected by high mileage, unpaved roads or hard hits from driving over high kerbs. You can notice worn joints by a degraded driving behavior of the car and by rattling noises. If it is the case, the affected components must be replaced. It is forbidden to repair these parts.
When replacing the track rods or ball joints, you have to screw the replacement part exactly as many times as the replaced part was screwed. Otherwise the vehicle will pull to one side and the tires will wear out much faster. You can recognize a misplaced track rod by detecting a heavily worn tire on the one side of the car or by the fact that the car pulls to one side. If you are not sure whether your track rods are installed correctly, you can check and adjust them at any mechanic for 50-100 euros.
The chassis is designed to maintain a comfortable height of the wheels and to control them. It consists of a strong steel spring and a shock absorber.
Depending on how the chassis was built, these two components can be designed as a single part (strut) or as separate components. Some vehicles have instead of exchangeable struts a hydropneumatic suspension chassis built in the vehicle.

How to detect and repair damage in steering and chassis

You can recognize a defective suspension by a degraded driving behavior and an unpleasant swing of the vehicle. The car is harder to control and the tires squeal frequently. At least then, an immediate replacement is necessary. It is however advisable to have a quick look at the springs and shock absorbers every time you replace the tires or brakes.
Should the shock absorber leak oil during compression gurgles or should you identify severe corrosion or even cracks on the spring, you must replace the unit immediately.
The springs must be unscrewed always in the direction of the axle. The condition of the shock absorbers can be checked also without lifting platform: You press the car on every corner vigorously. If the vehicle springs strong the shock absorber is defective. Spring struts and shock absorbers are fairly easy to replace, as long as you use the correct tools. A spring tensioner can be bought for a few euros. Experiments with tensioning straps or other improvisated tools should not be conducted because a suddenly released spring is very dangerous.

Find everything you need for the steering/chassis at an affordable price

At AutopartsPro.co.uk you will find any spare parts needed at the repair of a defective steering or a broken suspension. We constantly have promotions and discounts. Every single one of our spare parts is in accordance with the prescribed quality of the manufacturer.

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