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Car Steering Column

Steering Column

The automotive steering column is a device intended primarily for connecting the steering wheel to the steering mechanism.

A steering column may also perform the following secondary functions:

energy dissipation management in the event of a frontal collision;

provide mounting for: the multi-function switch, column lock, column wiring, column shroud(s), transmission gear selector, gauges or other instruments as well as the electro motor and gear units found in EPAS and SbW systems;

offer (height and/or length) adjustment to suit driver preference

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Steering lock

Modern vehicles are fitted with a steering lock which is an anti-theft device. It is fitted to the steering column usually below the steering wheel. The lock is combined with the ignition switch and engaged and disengaged either by a mechanical ignition key or electronically from the vehicle's electronic control unit. These locks were introduced on many General Motor products in 1969 drastically reducing thefts of these GM models,[1] and on Ford, Chrysler, and AMC products in 1970.

Collapsible column

A common device to enhance car safety is the collapsible steering column. This is designed to collapse in the event of a collision to protect the driver from harm. The column can collapse after impact with a tolerance ring inserted between the inner shaft of the steering column and the external housing. The wavelike protrusions on the circumference of the tolerance ring act as a spring to hold the two parts in place in normal driving conditions. At a specific level of force, for example in the event of a collision, the tolerance ring allows the inner shaft to slip inside the housing, so the column can collapse, absorbing energy from the impact.

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In virtually all modern vehicles, the lower section of the inner shaft is articulated with universal joints which helps control movement of the column in a frontal impact, and also gives engineers freedom in mounting the steering gear itself.