In the interest of staying on the technical topic at hand, the "steering damper" acts like a shock absorber to minimize some of the harshness you might feel as a twitching through the steering wheel. It slows down your steering's reaction to road irregularities, and works quite well when in good condition. With my cars, I treat these relatively cheap ($25-$45) parts as maintenance items, and change them out every 50-60k. They take maybe 15 minutes to replace with common hand tools. To check yours, simply un-do one side and slide it through its range...if it goes quickly with little resistance, it's blown.
Good luck, and hope this helps. Michael
[This message has been edited by Michael (edited 08-20-1999).]