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The Advantage of New Technology: Electric Power-Assisted Steering

The Advantage of New Technology: Electric Power-Assisted Steering

As of now, just about all new model Fords are using Electric Power-Assisted Steering (called EPAS for short), which comes with many advantages both in performance and to save you money.

Up until only a couple years ago, just about all new vehicles equipped with power steering worked with a hydraulic system. The power steering pump would have a belt and pulley system that would be powered by the engine's main crank. Lines from the power steering pump would connect to the steering rack and continuously circulate power steering fluid (essentially hydraulic oil) through the system which would allow the steering to be lighter for the driver to turn. This system would function well and has been used for over 100 years!
There were many drawbacks with the traditional hydraulic power steering system though:

  • Belts and fluid had to be serviced every few years, and the pumps would not last forever.
  • The belts would stretch and slip causing a squealing sound or loss of assisted steering.
  • The entire system adds weight to the vehicle
  • Lastly, because it was driven by the engine's main crank, it would rob power from the motor's full potential, increasing fuel mileage.

Now that Electric Power-Assisted Steering has been introduced, all of those drawbacks have been eliminated.
EPAS works by having an electric motor attached to the steering rack which assists with steering. This is controlled by sensors that determine how light the steering wheel should feel based on the car's speed that it is traveling. When at low speeds, the steering should feel light so that the driver can easily turn at intersections or into parking spots. At higher speeds, the steering should feel heavy (stiff) so that there is better communication with tire grip to the road.
EPAS eliminates all those original drawbacks, and here are the best parts about this system... The driver can select the firmness of the steering depending on their driving style (Comfort, Medium, Sport). As well, having an electric motor to help turn the steering means that it can also completely control the steering for options like Active Park Assist (automatic reverse parking), and Pull-Drift Compensation (keeps the car straight when road conditions typically make a car steer to a side).

So an example like EPAS truly shows that they sure don't build cars like they use to... They're building them much better, keeping costs down for you in the long run.
129 1102 2011 Ford F150 First Drive Electric Power Assisted Steering

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