A steering column is a device that has a basic function of connecting the steering wheel to the steering mechanism by channeling the driver's input torque from the steering wheel to the wheels to make them turn. Eventually, as cars developed and became more advanced, the function of the steering column also developed. From a simple function, the steering column manages the energy dissipation process during accidents. The steering column also became the area where components for varied functions are attached, and it has also become adjustable over time depending on the driver's height and length preference.
What Are the Components of a Steering Column?
The steering column became more than a vehicle part that connects the steering wheel to the steering mechanism. It has also become a significant part of the vehicle where important components are attached such as the following:
- Groan stopper bolt cover
- Steering column adjuster
- Steering column bearing
- Steering column bushing
- Steering coupling
- Steering shaft
- Steering shear bolt
The Steering System in Relation to the Steering Column Functions
There are three basic types of steering systems used in vehicles: the rack and pinion steering system, the recirculating ball steering system, and the power steering system. In all these steering systems, there is one part that these systems cannot do without: the steering column.
The steering column is also known as the steering shaft. It is connected to the steering wheel and located directly under it. The steering column, together with the other components, makes the wheels turn. Although every vehicle has a steering column, its function varies depending on the type of its steering wheel.
- Rack and Pinion Steering System. In vehicles that has rack and pinion steering, the steering wheel is attached to the rack through the steering column. The rack is then connected to the wheels that has grooves in it. At the end of the steering column, there is a pinion that fits into the grooves of the rack that makes the wheels turn. It enables the wheels to turn when the driver turns the wheel. The steering column twists the pinion that moves together with the grooves and pulls the rack to one side resulting to the turning of the wheels.
- Recirculating Ball Steering System. In this steering system, the steering column connects the steering wheel to the recirculating ball gearbox. The end of the steering column is converted into a screw and turns inside the gearbox that has ball bearings. These bearings helps in making the wheels turn easily while rotating the pitman arm. This arm rotates from the force of the steering column and causes the wheels to turn.
- Power Steering System. In this system, the steering column connects the steering wheel to the rotary valve that functions as an indicator whether the vehicle is turning or not. Only when the vehicle is turning does the rotary valve engages the power steering pump, allowing the wheels to turn smoothly.
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