If you’ve noticed that your car makes a clunking noise every time you turn a corner or drive over a bump, or if you find it easier turning in one direction than the other, it might be time to replace your steering rack. Symptoms of a malfunctioning steering rack can also include a leak in power steering fluid, uneven tire wear, or a steering wheel that’s harder to steer in the morning than later in the day.
While not the most exciting of car parts, the steering rack is vital to safe driving. Your steering rack is a linear gear that aligns with the pinion, through which it is connected to the steering shaft. When the steering wheel is turned by the driver, the steering rack applies the generated torque to the pivots of the car’s wheels. In other words, the steering rack translates the rotational motion of your steering wheel into the linear motion needed to turn the car wheels and make forward motion possible. Needless to say it’s a pretty important aspect of your automobile, and a shoddy steering rack can be dangerous if left unchecked.
Choosing a Steering Rack
As with most car parts, the cost and specifications of your particular steering rack will depend on the make, model and year of your car. Always be sure to check that the parts ordered correspond to your vehicle
Given the often wide variations in the implementation of steering rack and pinion technology, no two car manufacturers will have the exact same method of installation, so it’s best to refer to your manual before leaping into any DIY work on your steering rack.
Once you have an idea of the scope of the task at hand, look at the new rack, be sure to take note of mounting bolt holes and the high pressure and return line fittings. Then jack up the car, support it with jack stands and find the location of the mounting bolts, steering column coupling and power steering lines. After reviewing the demands needed to replace your steering rack, you may decide that this is a job best left to the experts; however even if you decide to hire a pro it’s still possible to purchase your own steering rack instead of relying on parts from the auto body shop or straight from the dealership.
- Always re-align your wheels after replacing the steering rack.
- Be sure to flush the power steering system if replacing the power steering rack.
- Proper Diagnosis: Sometimes problems within the power steering control module, if applicable, can imitate problems with the steering rack. You want to be certain the problem has been properly diagnosed before investing in a potentially expensive steering rack.
Steering has come a long way from the gear boxes of older vehicles, however, replacing a steering rack and pinion system is still within the abilities of most people looking to do a DIY fix. Be sure to check out the Buy Auto Parts site to view our wide selection of OEM steering racks as well as the countless how-to videos designed to make your DIY a success!
Written by: Dara Greaney