Tech Tip: Installing steering gears

March 23, 2020
There are two things that typically go wrong in steering gear installation: failure to get the air out of the gear, or an incorrectly set poppet.

With the continued integration of more technologies into automated commercial vehicle safety systems, steering gear maintenance is an often neglected, yet key element in the effective operation of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). This guest blog focuses on the installation of steering gears.

“Now that steering gears are evolving to provide lateral ADAS control through features like lane-keeping assist and lane centering, it’s even more important to driver and vehicle safety that they’re kept in good operating condition,” said Jonathon Gerke, Bendix product manager – steering.   

Installation Done Right

There are two things that typically go wrong in installation. One is a failure to get the air out of the gear, which will lead to hard steering in one direction. If steering is difficult in both directions after installation, it’s usually the second problem, which is an incorrectly set poppet.

“The poppet is an internal unloading valve inside the gear so you don’t build pressure against the axle stops, which causes unnecessary loads across the entire steering linkage,” Gerke noted. “It’s important not to rotate the steering gear input or output shaft until it’s installed on the truck and connected to the linkage with the wheels straight.”

Technicians must also check that the axle stops are properly set so that the poppet valves are timed correctly. This provides clearance between the front tire and other components such as the frame rail, allowing free angular movement of the tire. And again, verify that all fasteners are securely torqued across the system.

“Steering gears haven’t traditionally been considered part of a truck’s safety systems, but the more advanced and integrated these technologies become, the more vital it is to equip technicians and fleets with the knowledge and support to keep vehicles running smoothly and safely,” said Gerke. “For example, we’re now incorporating steering-related courses into the Bendix On-Line Brake School curriculum at brake-school.com and adding information to our in-person training sessions across the country.”

Information provided by Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems 

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