Are you having a problem with your power steering and do you think that you have a problem with the electric power steering pump? Well, if that is the case, then you are at the right place because we have a lot to cover on this topic.
- Power Steering
- How Hydraulic Works
- How Electric Works?
- Electric Pump
- Conversion Kit
Power steering is one of the most essential things nowadays when it comes to cars. You just cannot live without it. Imagine just how much more difficult will be to drive a car that does not have some of these units installed on it? A complete nightmare, to be honest.
And you don’t want to live in a nightmare. You just need a good car with a reliable power steering pump. Or if you are a drifter you need a good reliable electric power steering pump conversion. Hydraulic power steering might seem slow. That’s why you need to do some retrofitting in order to make your drift machine a real beast. But you shouldn’t worry because we are going to cover everything in this article.
First, we are going to cover the basics of power steering where we will learn what is power steering and the two different types of power steering. Then we will learn how they work and what are the integral parts in both of them. After this, we will cover the electric power steering pump conversion and how it is done. Then we will take a look at the symptoms of a bad power steering pump and how to diagnose a bad pump. So, if you want to learn more, follow along.
What Is Power Steering?
Now before we dive into more complex topics and learn the types of power steering and how they work, as well as the electric power steering pump, let’s cover some of the basics and learn what is power steering in general. Knowing this will help the ones that are not yet familiar with these concepts and learn the basic stuff. So, if you want to learn more follow along.
Power steering in general is a mechanism that is included in cars. This mechanism allows you as a driver to turn the steering wheel with ease and not struggle while driving the car. Since cars should be comfortable to drive overall.
In the past, I mean back in the 50s and 60s, driving a car was a real struggle. That’s why power steering was invented to aid the driver to maneuver the vehicle. In fact, the first car equipped with power steering came back in 1951.
And this car was the Chrysler Imperial. Which was a top-of-the-line model. This means that it was crazy expensive and not a lot of people could purchase it.
And up until recently, this was only an option. And only optioned cars had this system. But as the technology has evolved, the production process made this power steering mechanism a lot cheaper and more affordable for drivers.
Nowadays 99% of the new cars sold here in the states come equipped with power steering solutions. This increases the price of the cars by a bit. But nothing significant in comparison to the comfort that you get by using power steering.
Nowadays we even have two types of power steering. And that’s what we are going to cover in the following chapter before we dive into the electric power steering pump.
Power Steering Types
Now before we discuss the electric power steering pump, let’s cover the two types of power steering philosophies.
As you probably know, there is not only one type of power steering, in fact, there are two of these types and they greatly differentiate from one another in design and also in the method of work.
One of them is aided by hydraulic fluid and one of them is aided by electricity. Meaning the second one is drive-by-wire steering.
They differentiate in the design philosophy and incorporate different approaches in order to tackle this problem and deliver the driver the best result and driving experience.
The early types of power steering systems were hydraulic ones. This was the case because the drive-by-wire was not sufficiently developed and the complex electronics were not available at the time.
But in recent years, there was a huge leap in the design and this allowed the use of these electronics in mass production and made these systems a lot cheaper and more and more affordable for new owners.
So, if you purchase a car nowadays, there is a 99% chance that you will get a car with an electric power steering system. Or if you get an older model from the early 00s or pre 00s you will get it with a hydraulic power steering device.
But have you asked yourself, how do these systems work in practice, and what makes them so different from one another? Well, that’s what we are going to discuss in the next two chapters, where we will learn more about the design of these two types of power steering systems and how they work in reality. And you don’t want to miss that. Later on, we will cover the electric power steering pump.
How Does Hydraulic Power Steering Work?
Now before we cover the electric power steering pump. Let’s learn more about how hydraulic power steering works. What is the method of action of the hydraulic power steering system and how does it work in reality behind the curtain?
Well, this system works with the help of hydraulic fluid. This means that hydraulic fluid is activated by the hydraulic pump that is driven by the serpentine belt on the engine.
This means that there is a lot of plumbing into the steering rack and the steering column that will allow this process to work.
Building a hydraulic pressure is not easy and for this system to work you need a strong hydraulic pump that will push this fluid. This process is normally done by the serpentine belt as we mentioned. This belt spins the pump and creates pressure in the system.
This system is rather complex and expensive. For production and also for repair. Since you don’t want something to go wrong with it. And the hydraulic power steering pumps are notorious for breaking down.
You will notice this quite often when you try to turn the steering wheel and there is a whining noise that will develop. Or when it eventually fails, you will completely lose this system altogether and you will be left without power steering.
Luckily, there was a new invention that somewhat improved this system. And that was the electric power steering pump. This pump ditched the hydraulic pump and instead there was a motor that was attached to the electric power steering pump that pumped fluid into the system. Pretty ingenious design. There were some Toyota and Volvo models equipped with it. Many of the manufacturers have switched to the completely electric power steering.
How Does Electric Power Steering Work?
Now as we covered the hydraulic power steering and we learned what is the electric power steering pump. Let’s now focus on the other type of power steering that is mainstream nowadays.
And that is the electric power steering. This type of power steering is basically drive by wire system and does not use hydraulic fluid to run.
This means that all that complexity from the hydraulic power steering is removed and simplified. This greatly improves the performance of the car and it gives you a lot sharper steering and better input from the steering wheel.
Even though some people hate it because it might seem robotic. But I have electric power steering on my car. And I really love it. It’s dead easy to use on a day-to-day basis and basically, there is no maintenance on it.
Everything in this type of power steering is done by the electric motor. This motor helps you turn the steering wheel. This means that whenever you start the car, you will notice how the electric motor turns on and this motor is active all the time when you start the engine.
The only drawback is that you cannot move the steering once the car is shut down since the electric motor is not functioning and you are stuck in this setting.
But this is only a small drawback. The positives are enormous and you have a car that drives like you are on rails. Also, as we mentioned, the maintenance is minimal. You don’t have to replace the power steering fluid. There is no belt for powering this component. You will save hundreds over the ownership with this type of car.
Electric Power Steering Fluid; Is There Any Fluid?
Now as we covered the electric power steering pump, let’s now discuss one misconception. And that is if there is an electric power steering fluid?
The answer to this question is no. There is no electric power steering fluid. Modern electric power steering systems do not use power steering fluid also known as hydraulic fluid.
This is the case because modern power steering systems are driven by an electric motor. So, there is no fluid needed in order for them to work.
But, there is a big but. In the past, there were attempts to adapt hydraulic fluid systems with electric ones. These systems were known as electro-hydraulic systems. They were popular especially in the 90s before the shift to fully electric steering.
So, there are still a small number of hybrid systems. These systems use the hydraulic fluid which is pumped through an electric motor.
This means that in these applications there is no hydraulic power steering pump. But there is an electric power steering pump.
So, when you are out there on the market and looking to do a conversion from a hydraulic power steering pump, to an electric pump. There are options concerning this problem. And that we are going to cover later on when we will discuss the electric power steering pump conversion.
Now let’s see more about the electric power steering pump and if there is any electric power steering pump, similar to the fluid.
Electric Power Steering Pump?
Now let’s learn if there are any electric power steering pump vehicles out there? And the answer to this question is, yes. There were some vehicles that were equipped from the factory with these electric power steering pumps.
This is a hybrid system that includes a hydraulic fluid and an electric motor. The electric motor basically does the work of the power steering pump.
These systems are known as electro-hydraulic systems and benefit from both of these technologies. But still, they are not fully electric as modern systems are. The modern system as we mentioned, does not use any hydraulic fluid. It only uses electricity and that’s why they are the mainstream right now.
Nevertheless, back in the 90s, this electro-hydraulic system was a real hit and a bridge between the classic power steering hydraulic and modern fully electric power steering systems.
These units were used on a lot of Ford products. But the main use was in the European market. Car companies like Volvo, Volkswagen, and other brands saw a big use of these systems in their cars.
Even the famous Toyota MR2 from 1990 was using an electro-hydraulic system. And here in the US, these systems are a rarity. Since not a lot of cars had them and it is a pain to find one.
But these electric power steering pumps are very demanded by drifters and they often do an electric power steering pump conversion on their cars. And that’s what we are going to cover up next.
Electric Power Steering Pump Conversion
Now let’s talk about electric power steering pump conversion. This is really a hot topic in the car community right now and a lot of car folks who are running hydraulic power steering pumps want to switch on electric ones. So, why is this the case, why is the interest so high in the car world to jump on the bandwagon and do this conversion?
Well, the answer is really simple and that is performance. Regular power steering that is belt-driven does not give the reliability needed when it comes to drifting cars.
The electric power steering pump on the other hand does deliver this and much more. But why do they do these conversions and not just switch to fully electric power steering?
Well, this is also an interesting question. And the answer for this is because fully electric power steering does not deliver you that feel of the road that you have with the hybrid between electric and hydraulic.
There are a ton of people who are scavenging electric power steering pumps from European cars like Volvos and Volkswagens to retrofit them in their cars. Which usually are Nissans and other JDM products that are used on the drift track.
That’s why if you look to improve your performance on the track, you might want to do a conversion like this. There are a ton of cars in junkyards that have this electric power steering pump and wait for you to do a full conversion to electro-hydraulic power steering. But there are also new kits. And that we will cover next.
Electric Power Steering Kit
Now let’s discuss the electric power steering kit. As we mentioned, there are places where you can scavenge these pumps. Namely, junkyards that have a ton of European cars and they will happily sell you one of these electric power steering pumps.
But they are not cheap. Even as used ones, they could cost you a good penny. This is why if you want something new and reliable it is better to spend a top dollar than get a junkyard component that will fail all of a sudden. You just don’t want to rely on a junkyard electric power steering pump.
And luckily for you, there are complete kits out there. This kit is called an electric power steering kit. The kit includes all of the hardware that you will need to convert your power steering to an electric power steering pump.
Who needs that clunky hydraulic power steering pump when you can get a complete kit with an electric power steering pump. But what does this kit include?
These kits include an electric power steering pump, a power steering control module, and all the necessary plumbing and hardware needed to perform this work. Just make sure that you get a kit that will fit the model that you have. And for this information, you might want to contact the seller and find out more about this.
Electric Power Steering Pump Conversion; How To?
Now, let’s take a look at the electric power steering pump conversion. How you can convert your car from a serpentine belt-driven pump to an electric power steering pump?
Well, the first thing that we told you is that you will highly likely be needing a kit for this or you will need to scavenge a used power steering pump from the junkyard from some European 90s model.
The second option is cheaper but you also don’t know what you are going to get in this deal. That’s why sometimes getting a new kit will be the best thing. But how this process is done right?
Well, this is a labor-intensive process, the whole engine needs to come off from the car so you to get the right space to work on the power steering.
Then you will have to replace and re-route the hydraulic fittings and hoses to the new electric pump and in addition, you need to know how to route the electricals since this is an electrically driven pump that requires a bit more knowledge and ingenuity for this conversion to be possible.
It is also often advised to contact some more experienced people who already did this swap and know all the steps involved in this work.
In the video above, you can see how much dismantling and work is needed to fit everything and route each bit, and piece together. So, keep this in mind. But how much it will cost you to install an electric power steering pump? Well, that’s what we are going to find out next.
Cost To Convert Power Steering?
Now let’s discuss the electric power steering conversion. How much it will cost you to ditch that old hydraulic power steering pump for an electro-hydraulic pump?
Well, to say the least, it is not cheap, at all. It will require a lot of money as well as a ton of labor to get things right.
But if you are a DIYer and you really want it, you can pull it off. The power steering pump will cost you somewhere between $200 to $600 if you find it used.
But in addition to this, you will also need to do new plumbing and fitting. And this might require more money as well.
A kit for example will cost you somewhere in the range of $1,200 to $1,600 with all the parts necessary for this.
Electric Power Steering System – Facts to Know
- The first power steering system was introduced in 1951 on the Chrysler Imperial.
- Until the early 2000s, most power steering systems in cars were hydraulic-powered, which means they were powered by a pump filled with hydraulic fluid pumped to high pressure.
- Hydraulic power steering pumps are powered by the engine, which can result in a five to eight-horsepower loss in most cars and can even decrease fuel economy by around three miles per gallon.
- In the early 2000s, many manufacturers turned to use electric power steering systems, which utilize an electric motor in place of the hydraulic pump.
- An electric power steering system doesn’t draw power from the engine since it’s powered by the car’s electrical system and eliminates the need for a hydraulic pump, lines, or power steering fluid.
- Auto manufacturers can tune a car’s electric power steering system to be speed-variable, which means it can increase or decrease the car’s steering resistance depending on the speed the car’s traveling.
- Electric power steering systems can provide ease, convenience, and fewer messes, making it easy to see why they are used in most new cars today.
- A hydraulic power steering system can provide quick and easy steering, but it also has its own set of drawbacks.
- The hydraulic power steering fluid must be changed periodically and if any of the components or hoses fail, then the fluid can get messy.
- The electric power steering system’s electric motor is guided by electronic circuitry connected to the car’s onboard computer system.
In this article, we have covered quite a bit when it comes to the electric power steering pump. First, we learned what is power steering and the two different types. The hydraulic and electric power steering.
Then we learned more about the hybrid system and which is the electro-hydraulic system that uses both hydraulic fluid and an electric motor.
After that, we covered the conversion from hydraulic to electro-hydraulic and also how this process is done the right way.
Now let’s answer some frequently asked questions.
When Was Power Steering Invented
The first system of this type was invented in 1876. But the first practical use in cars was introduced in 1951 with the Chrysler Imperial.
How Does Power Steering Work
This system works either with the help of an electric motor or with the help of a power steering pump. Electric power steering nowadays is getting mainstream because they require less maintenance and are cheaper to make.
What Does EPS Mean Car
This light means that you have a problem with the electric power steering on your car. It means that the problem needs to be diagnosed and sorted out soon if you don’t want to completely lose the power steering on your car.
Can You Drive Without Power Steering
Driving without power steering is possible. But the steering wheel will be extremely heavy. It will not be a good driving experience for you. You will also get a check engine light in the process. Overall, a problem that has to be sorted out sooner than later.
Is All Power Steering Fluid The Same
Yes, all power steering fluid is the same. This is basically a hydraulic fluid. Also known as ATF. Even though you should stick to the factory-recommended fluid for your car.