Electric steering assist VS. hydraulic steering assist

Electric steering assist and hydraulic steering assist are two prevalent technologies used in modern vehicles to provide assistance to the driver in maneuvering the vehicle. While both systems serve the same purpose of making steering easier and more efficient, they operate on different principles and offer distinct advantages and disadvantages. In this article, we will explore the characteristics and benefits of electric and hydraulic steering assist systems, and provide insights to help you make an informed decision when choosing the right steering assist system for your vehicle.


What is Electric Steering Assist?
Electric steering assist is a technology that helps drivers control their vehicles by providing additional steering support. It uses an electric motor to assist with the steering effort, making it easier for drivers to turn the wheels.

Evolution of Electric Steering Assist
Electric steering assist has come a long way since its inception. Initially, it was primarily used in electric vehicles due to the absence of an internal combustion engine-driven power steering pump. However, advancements in technology have made electric steering assist more common in traditional gasoline-powered vehicles as well.

Introduction to Hydraulic Steering Assist

What is Hydraulic Steering Assist?
Hydraulic steering assist, on the other hand, is a traditional system that has been used for many years. It relies on a hydraulic pump driven by the engine to provide the necessary power steering assistance. The pump pressurizes hydraulic fluid, which helps reduce the effort required to turn the steering wheel.

Evolution of Hydraulic Steering Assist
Hydraulic steering assist has been the go-to system for a long time. It has proven to be reliable and effective in providing the necessary steering support. However, it does come with some drawbacks, such as increased parasitic loss, which affects fuel efficiency.

Comparison of Electric and Hydraulic Steering Systems

Operating Principles
Electric steering assist operates by using an electric motor to provide assistance directly to the steering system. In contrast, hydraulic steering assist relies on a pump and hydraulic fluid to generate assistance. Electric systems offer more flexibility in terms of control and can adapt to different driving conditions.

System Components
Electric steering systems consist of an electric motor, torque sensor, and control module. Hydraulic systems, on the other hand, require a pump, hydraulic fluid, hoses, and a steering gear. Electric systems have fewer components, which can result in reduced weight and complexity.

Performance Factors
Both electric and hydraulic steering assist systems offer similar performance in terms of basic steering functionality. However, electric systems generally provide smoother and more precise steering, thanks to their ability to adjust assistance levels based on various factors, such as vehicle speed and driver inputs.

Benefits of Electric Steering Assist

Improved Fuel Efficiency
One of the significant advantages of electric steering assist is improved fuel efficiency. Unlike hydraulic systems, electric systems don't rely on engine power to operate, reducing parasitic losses and optimizing overall fuel economy.

Enhanced Precision and Control
Electric steering assist offers enhanced precision and control compared to hydraulic systems. With advanced sensors and control algorithms, electric systems can provide more accurate and responsive steering, especially in challenging driving conditions or when maneuvering through tight spaces.

Integration with Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS)
Electric steering assist seamlessly integrates with advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), such as lane-keeping assist and automated parking. This integration allows for the development of more sophisticated safety features and paves the way for future autonomous driving technologies.

Electric steering assist has emerged as a technologically advanced alternative to traditional hydraulic systems. It offers improved fuel efficiency, enhanced precision and control, and seamless integration with advanced driver-assistance systems. As automotive technology continues to evolve, electric steering assist is becoming increasingly prevalent in modern vehicles.

Benefits of Hydraulic Steering Assist

Robust and Reliable Performance
When it comes to performance, hydraulic steering assist takes the cake. It has a long-standing reputation for being robust and reliable. It can handle heavy-duty applications without breaking a sweat. So, if you're driving a big truck or hauling a trailer, hydraulic steering assist has got your back.

Better Road Feel and Feedback
One of the joys of driving is feeling connected to the road beneath you. Hydraulic steering assist offers better road feel and feedback compared to its electric counterpart. You can sense the subtle nuances of the road surface and adjust your driving accordingly. It's like having a conversation with the road, and who doesn't love a good conversation?

We all love saving some cash, and hydraulic steering assist can help you do just that. It tends to be more cost-effective than electric systems, both in terms of initial installation and long-term maintenance. So, if you're on a budget or prefer to spend your hard-earned money on other things (like an awesome road trip), hydraulic steering assist is a sensible choice.

Drawbacks of Electric Steering Assist

Potential for Electrical System Failures
Now, let's talk about the dark side of the force, or in this case, electric steering assist. One of its drawbacks is the potential for electrical system failures. If something goes wrong with the electrical components, well, you'll find yourself steering a car with about as much control as a shopping cart with a wonky wheel. Not exactly ideal.

Dependency on Power Supply
Electric steering assist is also quite dependent on a power supply. If your car's battery is dead, you can kiss steering goodbye until you replace it. It's like having a steering wheel that throws a tantrum unless it gets its daily dose of electricity. So, if you're in an area prone to power outages or forget to keep your battery charged, this might not be the best option for you.

Limited Feedback and Road Feel
When it comes to road feel and feedback, electric steering assist falls short. It's like trying to have a deep and meaningful conversation with a robot - the connection just isn't the same. You lose some of that tactile experience and the ability to make subtle adjustments based on road conditions. It's less like driving and more like piloting a spaceship. Engage autopilot!

Drawbacks of Hydraulic Steering Assist

Higher Energy Consumption
While hydraulic steering assist has its merits, it's not without its flaws. One significant drawback is its higher energy consumption compared to electric systems. It can put a strain on your vehicle's fuel consumption, especially if you're driving long distances. So, if you're an eco-conscious driver or prefer to keep your gas bill low, this might make you think twice.

Increased Weight and Complexity
Hydraulic steering assist comes with a bit of extra baggage, and we're not talking about your in-laws. The system adds weight to your vehicle and increases its complexity. So, if you're all about lightweight cars or prefer not to deal with extra mechanical components, this might not be the option for you.

Maintenance and Fluid Leaks
Lastly, let's not forget the joys of maintenance. Hydraulic steering assist systems require regular maintenance, including fluid changes. Plus, there's always the risk of fluid leaks, which can be messy and inconvenient. So, if you're not a fan of dealing with fluids or prefer a steering system that requires less TLC, this might not be your cup of tea.

Choosing the Right Steering Assist System

In the debate regarding electric versus hydraulic steering assist, there is no definitive victor. The decision ultimately hinges on individual preferences and driving requirements. Those seeking reliable performance, enhanced road sensitivity, and cost-effectiveness may be inclined towards hydraulic steering assist. Conversely, those prioritizing convenience, minimal energy consumption, and a streamlined design may find electric steering assist to be their optimal choice. Regardless of the particular power steering system in your vehicle, Hillside Auto Repair can assist in maintaining its proper functionality.


Is electric steering assist more reliable than hydraulic steering assist?

Electric steering assist systems are generally considered to be more reliable than hydraulic systems. Electric systems have fewer moving parts and are less prone to leaks or fluid-related issues. However, it is important to note that electrical system failures can occur, potentially resulting in a loss of power steering assistance.

Which steering assist system is better for off-road driving?

Hydraulic steering assist systems are often preferred for off-road driving due to their ability to provide better feedback and road feel. The hydraulic system is better equipped to handle the rugged terrain and provides the driver with a more connected driving experience.

Can I retrofit my vehicle with electric steering assist if it has a hydraulic system?

In some cases, it may be possible to retrofit a vehicle with an electric steering assist system, but it can be a complex and costly process. Retrofitting may involve modifications to the vehicle's electrical system, mounting points, and steering components. It is recommended to consult with a professional mechanic or automotive specialist before considering a retrofit.

Do electric steering assist systems require a constant power supply?
Yes, electric steering assist systems require a constant power supply. They rely on electrical components and sensors to provide assistance, which means that a functioning electrical system is essential for the system to work effectively. In the event of an electrical failure, the steering may become more difficult to maneuver.