The power steering rack is part of your car’s steering system. If you do not know what this car part is for, we will explain everything to you in this article: how a steering rack works, when to change it, how to change it, and the cost of changing the rack!
🚗What is a steering rack?
The steering rack is a part of your car’s steering system that provides direction to the front wheels. It is located between the steering wheel and the wheels and acts as a link between the steering column and the wheels. The power steering rack itself is made up of several parts: an alloy body, a toothed rod which is in fact the actual rack, the steering gear, the axial joints, and the steering ball joints.
Concretely, when you turn your steering wheel, the rotation is transmitted to the pinion via the steering column. The pinion will then drive the steering rack to the left or right to transmit motion to the wheels.
There are different types of rack:
- Non-assisted steering rack: today it is rarely found on vehicles, modern cars no longer have it.
- Hydraulic-assisted rack: these racks are equipped with a hydraulic steering pump that facilitates the various maneuvers you perform
- Electrically assisted rack: a kind of motor is placed on the rack to assist maneuvers.
🗓️ When should the power steering rack be changed?
There is no particular recommendation to have your steering rack checked, normally the steering rack does not require regular maintenance. However, the bellows at each end of the rack may wear out and allow dust or foreign objects to pass through, in which case the rack may be damaged faster than expected. There are also some symptoms that should put you on the alert as to whether or not your steering rack needs to be changed. We will detail them for you just below!
🔍 What are the symptoms of a wrong steering rack?
If your steering rack is faulty this can have serious consequences for your safety. There are certain signs that should alert you to the condition of your steering rack:
- You have trouble turning your steering wheel
- You hear an unusual noise from the suspension bar
- Your steering wheel makes noise when you turn
- You notice noise from the steering pump
- You notice vibrations in the steering wheel
- Your vehicle is not as stable as it used to be, especially when you are traveling at a high speed
If you notice any of these symptoms, we advise you to go quickly to a garage to have your steering rack changed!
🚘 How to see if there is play in the steering rack?
To find out if there is play in your steering rack and be sure the problem is there, you can do a few fairly simple checks. Here is the procedure to follow:
- Put the vehicle on jack stands
- Move the steering wheel from left to right with the ignition on
- Start by checking the left and right steering ball joints, checking for play in the connecting rods and tie rods.
- If you don’t notice anything abnormal, move the front wheels again
- This time check the steering column.
- If you still don’t notice any play, check the steering rack by performing a visual inspection and also checking for any abnormal noises you might hear.
- If you notice any anomaly, the problem is probably with the steering rack and we recommend that you go to a garage as soon as possible.
🔧 How to repair a steering rack?
There are two types of problems that require repairing your steering rack: an oil leak or wear on your silent blocks which are responsible for maintaining the rack. Steering rack replacement is quite a complex operation and should only be done if you have good mechanical knowledge, otherwise, you could quickly be overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task. To give you an idea, here are a few key steps on how to repair your steering rack.
Equipment required: adjustable wrench, jacks, ball joint hunting, protective gloves
- Step 1: Block your vehicle
To change the rack you will need to put your vehicle on jack stands and remove the wheels.
- Step 2: Remove the steering ball joints
To disassemble your steering ball joints and loosen the nuts that hold the ball joint, then use a ball joint chaser to take off the ball joint.
- Step 3: Remove the steering rack
Start by removing the rubber shock absorber that connects the steering column to your rack. Then remove the hydraulic fittings and collect the oil that flows out with a container. Then remove the 4 rack bolts and release the entire rack to install it on a clean surface.
- Step 4: Perform the necessary checks
Once the steering rack has been removed, you will be able to inspect it more closely. This step is only for seasoned mechanics. You will need solid mechanical skills to detect where the problem is coming from after inspecting the bellows, seals, distributor …
- Step 5: Reassemble the new rack
Reassembly consists of performing the same steps as disassembly but in the reverse order, making sure to reposition all the components. Be sure to check the condition of the steering ball joints, steering rods, bellows, and ball joints before reassembling the new rack. Once the checks have been made, reassemble the rack, then tighten the retaining nuts and reconnect the hydraulic connections, replace the rubber shock absorber and reassemble the steering ball joints.
- Step 6: Purge the system
You must now bleed your power steering system. To do this, fill the tank, close it and start the engine. Move the wheels a few times and then adjust the fluid level. If you no longer hear any noise, the purge is finished, otherwise, repeat the operation until you no longer hear a thud.
- Step 7: Refit the wheels
Your steering rack is now changed!