Recirculating Power Steering System
Recirculating Power Steering System or Recirculating-ball steering is an important component on many trucks and SUVs. The link between the turns and the wheels is slightly different than on a rack-and-pinion system.
The recirculating-ball steering gear has a worm gear. It helps to think of the gear in two parts. The first part is a metal block with a threaded hole in it. This block has gear teeth cut into the exterior, and these engage a gear that moves the pitman arm (see diagram above). The steering wheel connects to a threaded rod, much like a bolt, that fits into the hole in the block. When the steering wheel turns, it rotates the bolt. Instead of twisting further into the block the way a normal bolt would, this bolt is held fixed so that when it turns, it moves the metal block, which then goes on to move the gear that orients the wheels.
Instead of the bolt directly connecting with the threads in the block, all of the threads are actually full of ball bearings that move through the gear as it twists. The ball bearings have two purposes: first, they decrease friction and wear in the gear, and second, they reduce slop in the gear. Without the balls in the steering gear, the teeth would come out of contact with each other for a moment, making the steering wheel feel loose. This is what we mean by slop in the gear.
In a recirculating-ball system with power steering, it works similarly to a rack-and-pinion system. Help with the turns is provided by sending higher-pressure fluid to one side of the block.
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