Steering Couplers

Steering Couplers

The steering shaft universal joint coupling, also know as steering coupler, is an important component of the steering system of your car. The Steering Coupler, which includes a cylindrical rubber bushing, ensures the transfer of movement from the steering wheel to the steering rack. When you turn your steering wheel, the steering column shaft turns with it.  The steering column shaft, in turn, spins the intermediate steering shaft, which spins the steering gear box input shaft.  That moves the steering gear, whether you have rack and pinion steering or recirculating ball steering, to move the tie rods, turn the wheels and steer the vehicle. There are two main forms of steering couplers used:  universal joints (u-joints) and rag joints.  A u-joint can turn at an angle, which means that the steering shafts don’t have to be aligned in a perfectly straight line.  If the shafts are lined up straight, they can be connected by a rubber disc called a rag joint.  The rag joint allows for some flexing between the different shafts.  It also allows for a slight amount of flexing between the body (which the steering wheel is attached to) and the frame (which the steering gear box is attached too).  A rag joint also absorbs some of the vibrations from the road that would otherwise be felt in the steering wheel. 

 

Most cars with an intermediate steering shaft have two u-joint couplings. The top u-joint connects the intermediate shaft to the steering column while the lower u-joint connects the intermediate shaft to the steering rack. The steering shaft u-joint must transfer the steering force from the steering wheel to the steering rack at an angle, without resistance or play.  A faulty u-joint can cause looseness or seizing felt in the steering wheel. A vehicle with a bad steering u-joint is unsafe to drive.  Over time, the central rubber body tends to lose it elasticity and thereby the steering coupler will fail to transmit the movement of the steering wheels to the steering rack. This will result in a play in your steering wheel. You should replace a faulty steering coupler to avoid any further damage to your steering system. 

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