GMC Sierra Power Steering - Quadrasteer

Gimmick? Or Gotta Have It?

Randy Fish Jun 1, 2003 0 Comment(s)
Sucp_0306_04_z Gmc_sierra_power_steering Quadrasteer_system 1/4

The innovative Quadrasteer system consists of an electromechanical unit that turns the rear wheels up to 12 degrees, in relation to the front wheels. It senses the driver's desired steering input with a steering-wheel position sensor. This information feeds into an on-board microprocessor that determines appropriate rear-wheel angles, based on steering input and vehicle speed. The processor then supplies its data to an electric motor, which, based on algorithms, drives the rear steering rack through a planetary gearset to turn the rear wheels in the proper direction.

In order to really determine if Quadrasteer is a "Gimmick or a Gotta Have It," our pal Jerry Murray cordially loaned us his nicely equipped 24-foot trailer. And although it's been a while since yours truly has spent a bunch of time in the cab, a great deal of my past life was spent behind the wheel of a crew-cab dualie towing a 40-foot, triple-axle trailer to NSRA and Goodguys events. Oh, how the nightmares come back!

Riding solo (without the trailer) to start with, my first impression was tentative. The Quadrasteer offered somewhat of a "crab-walk" feeling, but that went away in no time. And being based in Southern California, we have lots of show-offs driving lifted, tricked-out 4x4s, so it was cool being able to upstage them all, as I drove this four-steer road warrior. At freeway speeds, lane changes were effortless, smooth, and calculated, and maneuvering in town, turning at intersections and into parking lots, Quadrasteer is a system you'd quickly come to appreciate.

However, since its intended purpose is to enhance maneuverability while towing, it was time to hook up. The trailer in question came well equipped, so we attached its full complement of load-equalizer bars and headed down the freeway. The old trailer I formerly towed was almost twice as long, and sported a fifth-wheel hookup, which yields totally different characteristics as compared to a tag-along. Nonetheless, it got me in the habit of making wide turns for proper clearance and tracking.

This time, however, the 24-foot tag-along trailer became all but non-existent as I navigated much sharper turns for freeway on-ramps and continued with quick, at-speed lane changes and general highway cruising. Those wide, sweeping turns I was accustomed to negotiating became a thing of the past as the rear wheels were now helping the entire package (truck and trailer) become much more "turning efficient" while loaded and under power. I can easily understand how the Quadrasteer option could turn a "non-towing" driver into a seasoned veteran with a small amount of practice. And no, it doesn't instill a false sense of security; it helps your trailer follow a more positive and predictable track-just like your old dog, Duke, does when he's hungry.

But, is Quadrasteer merely a new-fangled gimmick? Or is it one of those "Gotta have it" engineering marvels that you can't live without? Well, let's just say it's a purpose-built system that displays its inherent benefits in a short amount of time. For those who tow frequently in congested areas, or business owners whose needs warrant it, Quadrasteer would certainly be easy to get used to.

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