What is power steering?
The power steering found most commonly in boats is very similar to the power steering systems of automobiles. A steering cable is routed between the steering column at the helm and the steering cylinder or ram at the transom. The steering ram is connected to the tiller arm of the outdrive, which consequently moves to port or starboard whenever the steering wheel is turned. A pulley-driven pump is mounted to the engine and delivers pressurized fluid to the steering ram, thereby easing its movement. Generally, only one engine (usually the starboard engine) in a twin-engine installation receives a power steering pump. Consequently, the boat's steering will be power-assisted only when this engine is operating. Some high performance stern drive boats and many larger inboard models are equipped with hydraulic-assisted power steering. In these applications, a pump mounted to one engine or transmission generates hydraulic fluid pressure for the system, facilitating easier operation and less 'slop' and play.