The Defective GM Ignition Switch: How It Affects Power Steering
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The Defective GM Ignition Switch: How It Affects Power Steering

Thursday, April 06, 2017By Richard Alexander

Anyone who has ever driven a car that did not have power steering, knows how much easier it is to drive a car with that feature. It’s a complex mechanism that overcomes the resistance between the road and the weight of the car, as well as between the mechanical parts of the steering system. Without it, maintaining control of the vehicle is difficult.

Power steering has an interesting history, as the first tests of such a component happened around 1876, with the first actual power steering system (an electric motor providing steering assistance) being produced in 1903 for transport trucks. After that, most power steering became reliant on hydraulics. This was important because it was tested for military use. There, power steering helped soldiers drive large, heavy trucks on uneven or off-road paths. Since then, not a lot has changed except the effectiveness of the hydraulic systems, and most cars today still use hydraulic power steering.

As the steering wheel is turned, gears in the steering rack move the tie rods, making the front wheels turn. Power steering uses hydraulics to add extra push to the driver's input, making it much easier to move the wheels further and faster.

Power steering does have its flaws though. If hydraulic fluid leaks or the power is cut to the hydraulics, the power steering can fail. The latter was the case for GM’s ignition switch failures.

GM’s ignition switch defect allowed the ignition to be turned to the "accessory" or "off" position during operation. This would cause loss of power braking, power steering, and even loss of airbags. With power steering and braking being lost, crashes were far more likely, and with the airbags unable to deploy, crashes were more deadly, as well.

If you or a family member was involved in an accident resulting in serious injury or death due to a faulty ignition switch, contact us at the Alexander Law Group, LLP or call 888.777.1776. We believe that auto manufacturers should be held accountable when their products hurt or even kill people. All calls are free and confidential.

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