Yup. You no longer have power steering when the engine stalls because the pump isn't running. It's belt-driven by the engine. You have "armstrong" steering. Get it? :) Strong arm? Oh well.
There is still the mechanical steering linkage that will not be lost. Also, for reference, you will likely not even notice the lack of power steering assist at highway speeds. Many newer cars actually have a computer-controlled valve the in effect turns off the power steering at higher speeds to save engine power and improve fuel mileage. You really only need the power assist at very low speeds because you are trying to scrub the tires against the ground when you try to turn them. When the car is moving, the tires are free to turn when they are rolling.
A lot of really big heavy cars from the '60s and before didn't have or need power steering. As it became more common to drive at current highway speeds an alignment angle called "caster" was increased to greatly improve directional stability and steering wheel self-return after turning a corner. Caster is what makes the wheel come back to center when you let go of it. But increasing caster causes the tire to push down when turning which makes the corner of that 3000 pound car lift up. When you turn left, for example, the left corner of the car will raise up a little. THAT'S why they added power steering to cars. It was to allow a higher caster setting to make it real easy to keep the car going straight without constantly correcting the steering wheel. The drawback to higher caster is that it makes it real hard to turn the wheels at low speeds without power steering.
I'm not suggesting you do anything dangerous, but if you were to carefully shift to neutral while driving at highway speed, (please be careful you don't pop it into reverse), then turn the ignition switch off, you will see that you can steer quite easily yet until the car slows down. You won't be able to turn the key far enough to lock the steering wheel because it has to be in "park" to do that.
For anyone else reading this, be aware a lot of older rear-wheel-drive cars use a vastly different type of steering gear box that has a lot of play in it. That play is taken up by the pressurized power steering fluid when the engine and pump are running. When those engines stall, the car will usually veer to the right, (roads slant to the right so rain will run off), and you have to counteract that by turning the steering wheel almost 1/4 turn to the left. You will still have steering control. It just won't be much fun driving that way. Newer front-wheel-drive cars since before the '80s have rack and pinion steering systems. They don't have that play built in so nothing happens to steering wheel position when the engine stalls.
Monday, December 6th, 2010 AT 1:53 AM