Have you diagnosed that your rack and pinion have failed and are you looking for rack and pinion replacement? If that is the case, then you are at the right place because there will be a lot to cover on this topic.
Having a problem with your steering system can be a really annoying thing to deal with. Why I’m saying this? Well, because if you don’t have a properly working steering system, your car will basically not drive as it used to when this system was functioning properly.
You will start to experience the symptoms of a bad steering rack and have a lot of trouble steering your vehicle. So, you need to look for either to do a steering rack rebuild or a steering rack replacement. And this is why we are going to cover both of these things in this article. Why replace a steering rack when you can just do a rebuild on it? Especially if it’s an expensive steering rack.
First, we will cover the steering rack and pinion steering in detail and we will learn the main components of it. Then we will cover the bad steering rack symptoms, after this, we will cover the steering rack and pinion diagnostics and determine if you have a bad steering rack. Later on, we will focus on the steering rack rebuild and the rack and pinion replacement and costs. So, if you want to learn more, follow along.
Rack And Pinion Steering
Now before we dive into the rack and pinion replacement, let’s first cover some of the basics when it comes to the rack and pinion steering. I bet that there are people who are reading this and are not familiar with this type of steering and want to learn more about this. This is why we are going to cover everything in depth.
A rack and pinion is a type of automotive steering that is used on cars. Nowadays almost 100% of the cars are using it because it is so convenient and it usually never fails completely.
But how does this rack and pinion work in reality? Well, it is really simple to explain. There are two integral components in this system that do the heavy lifting. The first component is the steering rack and the second component is the pinion gear.
The steering rack is basically a big iron rod that has grooves in it and is placed horizontally below the engine. This rack is placed in a cylindrically shaped housing in order to be proofed from the elements.
And the second important component is the pinion gear. This pinion gear basically comes into contact with the grooves that we mentioned that are located on the steering rack. So, as you turn the steering wheel, you rotate the pinion gear. And this rotation moves the rack left or right. So, the front wheels turn left or right as a consequence of this action. Simple as that.
So, you can imagine how simple but useful this mechanism is on a car. But sometimes this mechanism can fail and will require rack and pinion replacement or a rebuild. But more on that later on in the article.
Why The Rack And Pinion Are So Important?
Now let’s further explain some things before we dive into the symptoms of a bad steering rack and the steering rack and pinion replacement.
As we mentioned previously, the steering rack is basically a big iron rod that is installed into a metal housing that protects it from the elements and makes it function right all the time. But sometimes this component tends to fail.
Namely, on each end of the steering rack, there are the inner tie rods that are connected to the outer tie rods (for more insight, check out our overview on outer tie rod replacement) that have the ball joints.
On each side of the steering rack, there are seals. These seals tend to leak out and cause the grease that is inside of the rack to leak out from the rack and cause you a lot of trouble.
Sometimes even the pinion gear can fail if it’s not lubricated properly and create a ton of friction. This is why you need to learn the steering rack and pinion diagram in order to further understand how this component works.
In addition to this, there are connections for the power steering that are connected to this steering rack.
This power steering is basically a system that allows the steering rack to move with a slight effort from the steering wheel.
Without power steering, you will not be able to turn the steering wheel as freely as you probably are now. So, you need to understand that when you lose this ability it is not because of a bad steering rack but because of a bad power steering pump.
But what are the symptoms of bad rack and pinion and how to determine that you need rack and pinion replacement? Well, more on that in the following chapters.
Symptoms Of A Bad Rack And Pinion
Now as we have covered the basics of what is a steering rack and pinion mechanism and how it works, we can move on and discuss other things.
Namely, what is really important for you to learn when it comes to rack and pinion replacement is to learn the symptoms of a bad rack and pinion system. How you can diagnose this component in the first place if you are not familiar with the symptoms? This is why we are going to elaborate on these symptoms in-depth in the following chapters.
1. Power Steering Fluid Leaks And Burning Smell
The first symptom that we are going to cover before we discuss the rack and pinion replacement is the power steering fluid leaks and the burning smell that will be present when the rack and pinion gear leaks or the rack leaks from the sides.
The rack is a component that needs to be properly sealed from all three sides if you don’t want to lose fluid.
In most cases, this is the most common failure point, the seals simply fail, and the fluid inside leaks out so you have problems with your steering rack.
These leaks will not be so noticeable in most cases but it could be some drops here and there on the tarmac where you usually park. If you then notice how there is grease on the rubber boots from the sides of the rack, or possibly at the top where the pinion gear is connected. It means that you have a problem with a bad steering rack and pinion.
This component needs to be rebuilt or you to look for rack and pinion replacement. But more on that later on in this article.
2. Excessive Noise When Turning The Steering Wheel
The second symptom that we are going to cover before we dive into the rack and pinion replacement will be the excessive noise that will be present when you turn the steering wheel on your car.
These noises will be really annoying because this type of work will resemble grinding. Basically, the pinion gear is not lubricated and the gear basically comes in contact directly with the metal.
So, there will be some metal against metal contact with no lubrication. This will create a heat and burning smell and when the lube burns out, there will be friction and your pinion gear will fail completely.
In this situation, you will either need to rebuild the steering rack and pinion or replace the pinion gear. Or perform a rack and pinion replacement. But more on that later in the article where we will cover this in detail.
3. Steering Wheel Feels Stiff
The third symptom that we would like to cover before we dive into the rack and pinion replacement is the situation when the steering wheel feels really stiff.
This shouldn’t be this way if you have a properly working power steering rack and pinion. This is often the case because of the low power steering fluid in your system. So, it’s handy to learn where to put the power steering fluid.
The lower the fluid gets, the worse the driving experience will become. The steering rack and pinion system will struggle to work properly and you will face a ton of issues like in our case with the stiffness of the steering.
So, if you notice that you have stiff power steering, this means that you are losing power steering from somewhere and the rack and pinion are leaking. You will either need to rebuild it or perform a rack and pinion replacement on your car.
4. Steering Wander
Another very common symptom when you have a bad rack and pinion is the steering wander. This can also be attributed to low fluid in the power steering but in most cases is not.
This is a problem mainly caused by loose rack and pinion mounts the rack simply has a lot of play in it so it moves around. This makes the steering wheel wander and develop play in it.
But this also can be caused by alignment issues. More precisely bad inner and outer tie rods on your car. The tie rods have to be checked in detail if you want to make sure that your car does perform well when it comes to steering.
These rods usually wear quite often and cause problems with the alignment as well as the situation when you have steering wander. Now before we dive into the rack and pinion replacement. Let’s move on to the last probable symptom that you will experience.
5. Steering Wheel Pulls On One Side
The last symptom that we are going to cover before we discuss the rack and pinion replacement is the situation when the steering wheel pulls on one side.
This could be the case because there is a spool valve inside of the rack and pinion that basically controls the power steering.
So, when this spool valve breaks, there will be noticeable uneven delivery of power steering fluid and the steering wheel will pull on one side.
Whenever you notice this situation, it is advised that you stop the car and take it to a shop to get it properly diagnosed.
Only by getting this problem properly diagnosed you will be able to resume driving your car safely on the road without any consequences for you as a driver. But how you can diagnose this problem? Well, that’s what we are going to explain in the next chapter and then we will cover the rack and pinion replacement.
How To Diagnose A Bad Steering Rack And Pinion?
Now let’s move on to diagnosing bad steering rack and pinion, this is really essential for you before you jump to conclusions and perform a rack and pinion replacement. So, how you can diagnose this component? Let’s elaborate.
The main thing that you need to look for before you jump into replacing the steering rack is checking the inner and outer tie rods. These components can really cause symptoms that you might confuse with a bad rack and pinion. Make sure that the ball joints of the inner and outer rod are good and do not have play in them.
Once you determine that the tie rods are in good condition you need to check the steering rack and pinion.
Check the fluid and see the condition of it in the reservoir. If it’s dirty then this might be causing the issue on your car. You will have to flush the power steering fluid on your car.
Then the next thing you will need to focus on is the symptoms that we discussed above. You will need to detect any noises that come from the rack itself. The second thing that you will need to focus on is if the steering wheel wanders and feels too stiff. This indicates problems with the rack and pinion gear.
But the most common giveaway that indicates a problem with the rack and pinion and you need to perform a rack and pinion replacement is the problem with the leaks. Bad steering racks love to leak.
There are three leakage points, the first point is where the pinion gear sits, and the two other spots are behind the rubber boots at both ends of the steering rack. Once you diagnosed it, you can move on to repairing it.
Rack And Pinion Repair
Now before we cover the rack and pinion replacement. Let’s first learn more about the rack and pinion repair. How you can repair a rack and pinion on your car? Knowing this will be extra useful for you because if you have a problem with a simple leak on your rack and pinion you can just rebuild it and not spend a ton of money on replacing the whole thing. In the next two chapters, we are going to discuss precisely that.
Rack And Pinion Rebuild Diagram
The first thing that you will need when it comes to rack and pinion repair is to get a rack and pinion rebuild diagram.
For this, you need to understand the type of steering rack you are having and then go online and browse this model of a steering rack. There you will have the ability to look for different diagrams and kits that are available for your steering rack.
The next thing you want to do is to purchase a rack and pinion seal replacement kit. Or rack and pinion rebuild kit. This is basically the same thing. It will contain all of the components that you need to rebuild your steering rack along with the diagram and manual for installing these components.
Rack And Pinion Seal Replacement
Now before we learn the rack and pinion replacement, let’s discuss the rack and pinion seal replacement. As we hinted above, you can get a kit in order to replace your steering rack.
In this kit, you will have all the essentials that will be needed to sort things out in the right fashion. Just to note that this job is really labor-intensive because you will need to remove the whole steering rack and for this, the whole engine needs to be lifted with a small crane.
Then you will have to disassemble the steering rack and replace all of the damaged components and seal everything off. Then you will have to reinstall it again on your car.
All this requires skill and knowledge. So, it might be your best bet if it’s a rack that you really want to save to take it to a shop and let them rebuild it. This way you will be sure that you get a good result for your hard-earned money. Now let’s move on to the steering rack and pinion replacement.
Rack And Pinion Replacement
Now we came to the important bit. And that is the steering rack and pinion replacement. How this work is done on your car in the right way?
Well, the first thing for this work you will need is a new steering rack. Preferably an OEM component that is approved by the factory. You just don’t want to deal with aftermarket stuff. Mainly because sometimes these components will not fit since they were not designed to work with your car.
The next thing you will need to do is to remove the wheels, release the tie rods from the knuckle and lift the engine from the car. You will have to remove the engine mount bolts and with an engine lift to lift the engine up for a few inches so you can be able to remove the rack itself. But don’t forget to remove the power steering fluid in advance.
Once the rack is removed, you will need to install the new rack in place and connect everything up to spec. Lastly, you will need to perform a wheel alignment because whenever you remove something important, you have to do an alignment. Overall, this is the process of rack and pinion replacement. But what about the cost? Let’s elaborate more on that next.
Rack And Pinion Replacement Cost
So, what does the rack and pinion replacement cost? The short answer is that it is not cheap. Not cheap at all.
The parts alone on the average cost between $250 and $1,200 depending on the car. Some cars have really expensive steering racks. Especially if we are talking about some higher-end models. So, you need to be aware of this cost. That’s why you might want to do a $300 rebuild on this steering rack and avoid paying all this money on a new component for your vehicle.
In addition to this, the rack and pinion replacement is really laborious. Replacing a steering rack is not something simple since the whole engine needs to be lifted in the air and the steering rack to be removed.
This process will probably cost you about $800 to $1,500 depending on the car that we are talking about. Overall, that is the average cost.
In this article, we have covered quite a bit when it comes to the steering rack and pinion. First, we learned what this component is and how it is working under the hood.
Then we covered the symptoms of bad rack and pinion. These include grinding noises, the smell of burning hydraulic fluid, problems using the steering, and also visible leaks on the rack.
Then we learned the diagnosing process and the rack and pinion replacement and the costs involved in this job.
Now let’s answer some frequently asked questions.
What Is A Rack And Pinion
A rack and pinion is basically your steering mechanism. The rack and pinion are crucial components that help the wheels to turn left or right. When you turn the steering wheel, you are basically rotating the pinion gear and moving the rack left or right.
Rack And Pinion Replacement Difficulty
The rack and pinion replacement is difficult. Namely, because the rack is mounted below the engine. So, in order to remove the rack, you will have to lift the engine up in the air so you can slide the rack in the process. This is why this job is expensive and will require a lot of money to get it done the right way.
Rack And Pinion Replacement Near Me
In order to find rack and pinion replacement near you, you should use your search engine. Locate the closest suspension shops next to your location and contact them and ask them how much they will charge you for this job. If you like one of these offers, you can accept it.
How Much Is A Rack And Pinion Replacement
The rack and pinion are expensive as we mentioned. Only the parts can cost from $250 up to $1,200. The labor is also expensive and will cost more than $1,000 in most cases, so you need to be prepared for these costs.