Most power steering systems work by using a hydraulic system to steer the vehicle’s wheels.The hydraulic pressure typically comes from rotary vane pump driven by the vehicle’s engine. A double-acting hydraulic cylinder applies a force to the steering gear, which in turn steers the roadwheels. The steering wheel operates valves to control flow to the cylinder. The more torque the driver applies to the steering wheel and column, the more fluid the valves allow through to the cylinder, and so the more force is applied to steer the wheels.
Since the hydraulic pumps are positive-displacement type, the flow rate they deliver is directly proportional to the speed of the engine. This means that at high engine speeds the steering would naturally operate faster than at low engine speeds. Because this would be undesirable, a restricting orifice and flow-control valve direct some of the pump’s output back to the hydraulic reservoir at high engine speeds. A pressure relief valve prevents a dangerous build-up of pressure when the hydraulic cylinder’s piston reaches the end of its stroke.