Power Steering Torque Sensor: Things to Know

What the Power Steering Torque Sensor

The power steering torque sensor is usually made up of a small ring of cobalt and ferrite materials that are placed around the steering column. When the driver turns the wheel, a magnetization process occurs and this varies in proportion to the amount of force that the driver has applied. That force reading is detected and measured by a sensor placed near the ring. The car can then process the same information and decide how much energy is necessary to turn the wheel. An electrical power assist motor will then transfer the energy to the wheels making navigation easier.

Vehicle Position and Speed Sensor

By design, the power steering torque sensor needs information about speed and positioning of the vehicle. To be able to do that, it makes use of 4 different voltage dividing circuits. This makes it quickly figure out the position of the steering system in regards to four 90-degree position senses. In that regards, a sensor will produce different voltages depending on the direction that a steering wheel is turned. The positioning of the sensor has to be somewhere that the measurements will not be affected by heat or vibrations from the rest of the car. Heat and excessive vibration can cause sensor failure or memory and diagnostics malfunction.

Positioning Within The Engine

The operating environment of the power steering torque sensor may vary depending on the size of the car. The effectiveness of the system is also different in commercial vehicles and in smaller personal cars. Commercial vehicles are more prone to vibration and noise, making higher demands for industrial vehicles. Positioning of the system closer to the wheels reduces the amount of force needed to turn the wheels of a heavy commercial vehicle but that also exposes the system to higher temperature and more vibration. With larger vehicles, that can be reduced by letting them operate at higher voltages than those of smaller vehicles.

Environmental Challenges

There are some environmental concerns which affect the effectiveness of a power steering torque sensor. Exposure to oil, dirt corrosion and sudden temperature change wears the system down. The temperature-sensitive materials and their operation needs regular testing to determine changes in the magnetization capabilities and the sensors need to undergo hermetic sealing to protect them from wear. Different sensors have different designs and each has its own recommendations for servicing or the lifespan expected under certain conditions. It is advisable to contact a specialist who can recommend the suitable power steering torque sensor to use for specific cars and in specific climatic regions.

Adoption On Heavier Vehicles

Over time, we have experienced faster adoption of electronic power steering where smaller vehicles are concerned but slower adoption in heavier vehicles. Newer technologies and improvements on power steering torque sensor designs are however coming up in recent times. These are likely to make the adoption for heavier vehicles increase in the near future. Technologies such as non-contact design now make it possible to have systems that are mechanically durable without compromising their ability to operate in very harsh environmental conditions. Non-contact designs in EPS have been a major step forward in getting heavier vehicles to adopt smarter steering technologies that are reliable, durable and precise in terms of control.