Electronic vs. Hydraulic Power Steering: Understanding the Difference

A lot has changed with the steering system of cars from back in the day. While rotating your tires impacts steering ability by providing better traction, it does not give you as much control as the power steering system does. Almost every car you see on the road these days has power steering as standard equipment. And with the advancement of technology, automakers continue to think of new ways to give you a better driving experience. Today, we now have two types of power steering systems in electronic and hydraulic power steering.

What is Power Steering?

Power steering is a system that assists drivers in turning the steering wheel with much lesser effort. This feature adds to the comfort while driving, particularly during low-speed maneuvers such as pulling into a parking spot or turning a tight corner. Power steering is especially essential for vehicles with front engines, and most of the weight is on the front wheels.

That said, the condition of your tires can also impact steering and the overall driving experience.

Two types of power steering that modern vehicles are using today: hydraulic power steering (HPS) and electronic power steering (EPS). There’s not much difference between the two in terms of purpose, as each one can help you turn the wheel with ease. But, they do differ in how they function.

Hydraulic Power Steering

One of the earliest forms of power steering technology, hydraulic power steering comprises various components and parts, such as a power steering pump, drive belt, pulley, along with several hoses and a power steering fluid. It uses high-pressure fluids to help make the steering movement easier to control. But how does it work?

All the components work together to create the hydraulic power necessary to make steering a lot more comfortable. The rotary vane pump of your engine controls this hydraulic pressure by pushing out the pressure as you turn the steering wheel. The extra hydraulic fluid entering the cylinder increases the pressure, which the steering gear receives to force the wheels to move in harmony with the steering.

Pros of Hydraulic Power Steering

Better Feedback

This type of power steering offers a more authentic feel that most sports car owners would appreciate. Some of the top sports cars still have hydraulic systems installed due to their superior road control. However, regular drivers won’t be able to tell the difference in the level of performance. That said, the latest EPS systems of today now feel more intuitive and have surpassed the benefits of hydraulic systems — which is a very positive development for both cars and their drivers.


Since hydraulic steering doesn’t require as many electric parts, it is cheaper to produce, and installing this system will help automakers save more money. It is also cheaper to maintain and easier to fix.


Hydraulic systems, being around for a long time, have been perfected for superior reliability. The setup of this system allows for less friction and wear due to its reliance on hydraulic oil to transfer force. Thus, providing better lubrication for all of the components the rub together. What’s more, you can continue to steer the car even when it fails while driving.

Cons of Hydraulic Power Steering

High Power Consumption

In a hydraulic system, the pump is constantly running, which causes more power consumption. This system can even overload the engine quickly and cause it to be less efficient. Since the engine has to supply more power to the steering system, fuel consumption also increases.

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Unlike an electrical system, the hydraulic system contains more large parts and fluid to keep the operation going. All this added equipment makes the vehicle heavier and negatively impacts fuel economy.

More Maintenance

While a hydraulic system is cheaper, it also requires more maintenance, such as monitoring fluid levels and ensuring proper lubrication. If you want the system to keep running, regular maintenance is needed.

Electronic Power Steering

One of the differences between the two systems is that electronic power steering has fewer parts than hydraulic configuration. You only need an electric motor to create the pressure required for steering. This motor has a sensor that monitors how much force is used to turn the steering wheel. The engine then uses that measurement to turn the wheels appropriately.

There are several types of electric power steering systems that automakers use. But most vehicles either use an electric motor attached to the steering rack or an electric pump used with the usual hydraulic system.

Pros of Electronic Power Steering

Better Fuel Economy

One main advantage of an electric power steering system is that it does not consume as much fuel as a hydraulic system. Because this system only generates electricity while turning the steering wheel, no power is wasted when it is not in use.

Less Maintenance

Another strong suit of an electric configuration is that it is completely maintenance-free. An electric power steering system is not complicated, and unlike the hydraulic steering system, you don’t need to worry about fluid and lubrication.

Better Handling

Despite initially having lesser road feedback, EPS systems have gone through various developments that resulted in better response at different speeds than HPS systems. The steering also feels lighter, and maneuvering your vehicle has never been this effortless.

More Reliable

Since electronic power steering is a more recent technology, you may think it is more prone to failure than its hydraulic counterparts. However, the simplicity of EPS makes it more durable and reliable because it has fewer parts that could go wrong. The only downside is that when the system fails while you’re driving, the steering wheel could lock up and lose control.

Cons of Electronic Power Steering


The only major con about electronic systems is that It costs more to manufacture. Of course, all those costs are passed on to consumers like you when you purchase the vehicle. Also, it is more expensive to repair a damaged electrical system — which doesn’t happen that often.

Electronic vs. Hydraulic Power Steering: Which is Better?

Basically, both power steering systems are effective in reducing steering difficulty. However, today’s automakers are leaning towards electronic power steering more since not all drivers are enthusiasts. Most car owners prefer the convenience of power steering rather than the superior road feedback you can get while driving. The EPS system can give you all the advantages of an HPS system and more. The only drawback for the electrical configuration is that it is more expensive. But considering that it is maintenance-free and has a better fuel economy, it might be worth the extra bucks.