Comparison of Hydraulic and Electric Power Steering

In the old days, driving a car required a lot of upper body work. We don't have to pull our car around when we turn. There are many power steering options available today that make the driving experience effortless. But it is not always easy to choose the right system. This is why we will be comparing hydraulic and electric power steering.

We will be comparing the key differences. Both systems have their advantages and disadvantages, so that you can choose the one best suited to your requirements. Why is electric power steering being used by carmakers instead of hydraulic? How do electric power steering work?

Hydraulic power steering can be more efficient than electric, which means lower fuel consumption. While hydraulic power steering is powered by the engine, electric uses the power of the battery. The alternator charges the battery which makes it more fuel efficient.

Although this may be the quick answer to your question, it is not all there. Continue reading for a deeper answer!

Índice de Contenido
  1. Hydraulic Power Steering:
    1. Hydraulic Power Steering Pros
    2. Hydraulic Power Steering Cons
  2. Electric Power Steering: What does it mean?
    1. Electric Power Steering Professionals
  3. What is better: Hydraulic or Electric Power Steering?
    1. 1. Fuel Efficiency
    2. 2. Handling
    3. 3. Maintenance
    4. 4. Prices

Hydraulic Power Steering:

Power Steering Pump Location

One of the earliest inventions in hydraulic power steering was its introduction. This system includes the power steering pump and pulley. There are also several belts and hoses. To operate, the system requires pressure.

A rotary pump controls hydraulic pressure in the car's motor. The pump releases more hydraulic pressure as you move the steering wheel. This increases the force. The extra hydraulic fluid entering the cylinder causes the pressure to rise. The pressure causes the steering gear to receive more pressure, which forces the wheels into harmony with each other. 

Hydraulic Power Steering Pros

1. Better Handling

Hydraulic power steering gives you a better feel. This level of performance may not be important to SUV owners, but it is for sports car owners. 

Today, hydraulic systems can still be found on high-end sports cars. However, the common everyday driver isn’t going to be able to tell the difference between the two systems. 

2. Get Cheaper

Hydraulic steering costs less to make. There aren’t as many electric parts required, so automakers can save money installing the system.

It is also easier to maintain and can help you save on repair costs. The hydraulic power steering system is easy to maintain, which can save you valuable time and money if there are any problems. 

3. Reliable

The hydraulic power steering system is more advanced than the electric. These systems have proven to be reliable over many years.

The system uses hydraulic oil to transfer power, so all components that rub together are coated in oil for improved lubrication. This setup reduces friction and wear. However, even if the system does fail while driving, it’s still possible to steer the car. 

Hydraulic Power Steering Cons

1. High power consumption

Hydraulic power steering uses more power than electric power steering because the pump runs continuously in the hydraulic system. This system can overload the engine quickly, making it less efficient.

The engine must provide greater power to drive the vehicle, which can lead to a decrease in fuel efficiency. You can expect higher fuel prices, even though you won't see it much. 

2. The Heavier

Hydraulic power steering has larger parts than the electric system. The hydraulic power steering also has fluid to ensure proper operation.

All this extra equipment makes the vehicle heavier. This added weight, along with the increased energy consumption, will also impact fuel economy. 

3. Maintain More

Hydraulic steering systems are more complex than electric. The hydraulic system requires hydraulic fluid, which should be checked periodically for the proper level.

To ensure that the fluid is properly lubricated, you will have to change it. Additionally, the temperature can influence the fluid’s properties. It’s important that you make time to maintain the system if you want it to continue running. 

Electric Power Steering: What does it mean?

Electric Power Steering

An electric motor is more compact than a hydraulic one. The electric motor generates the necessary pressure to rotate the wheels. The steering rack houses the motor and sensors that allow for continuous evaluation.

The sensors track how strong the force used to move the steering wheel. The engine can then calculate the power required to rotate the steering wheel. 

There are many types of electric power steering systems. There are two types of electric power steering systems that you will find most commonly: one with an attached electric motor to the steering wheel, and the other with an electric pump operating with normal hydraulic fluids.

Electric Power Steering Professionals

1. Greater fuel economy

When the steering wheel is turned, only electricity can be generated by the power steering system. When it’s not in use, there is no power running to the system. 

With this setup, there’s no power wasted, ensuring your engine lasts longer. You also gain better fuel economy because the power steering isn’t creating a constant draw on the motor. 

2. Minimal maintenance

The electric power steering system isn’t complicated. The system can be found on the steering rod, and the gearbox requires no maintenance.

There are also no fluids that need to be changed. Unlike the hydraulic steering system, there’s no lubrication to worry about. 

Electric Power Steering

1. We are less responsive

In comparison to the hydraulic power steering system, you won’t get the same response from this electronic system. Some cases may not give you enough feedback.

Drivers also report feeling the steering wheel is heavier than hydraulic steering. However, if it’s the only system you’ve ever used, you might not notice the difference. 

2. Low reliability

Electric power steering hasn’t been around as long as hydraulic systems. The electronic system is more susceptible to failure than hydraulic systems.

The steering wheel can lock up if the system goes down while driving. If you travel at high speeds, this could lead to dangerous situations. 

3. High-end

The cost of electronic systems is higher than that for hydraulic systems. These costs will be passed on to the customer by the manufacturer when the car is purchased.

A large repair cost can be incurred if a component is damaged. Parts are not only more costly, but also the steering rod has to be taken apart for replacement. This adds on to the labour cost. 

What is better: Hydraulic or Electric Power Steering?

Power Steering Function

1. Fuel Efficiency

The EPS system doesn’t include any hydraulic pumps and pistons. Simple motors only draw power when they are needed. 

The lighter weight and this technique make the electric system more fuel efficient. However, the differences aren’t mind-blowing, so most people wouldn’t notice a difference. 

2. Handling

The hydraulic power steering system is loved by many car lovers. That’s why it’s been a popular option in sports cars. 

This seems to be the consensus. However, some drivers feel that electric power steering feels more responsive. You can only decide which you like by trying them all. 

3. Maintenance

To function correctly, the hydraulic system requires fluid. This fluid must be topped up and replaced as necessary. Watch out for any leaks.

However, the electric power steering system doesn’t use any fluid. You won’t need to perform any maintenance, saving you both time and money. 

4. Prices

Producing the hydraulic system costs less. When you buy a new vehicle, these savings could translate to a lower cost car.

Additionally, fixing and maintaining the hydraulic system doesn’t cost a lot. It will cost you significantly more to repair a part that has failed with your EPS. These cars are also more expensive from the manufacturer.

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