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Rack and Pinion Steering Systems
Mounting The Rack
Steering Shaft Coupling
Inner Tie Rod Ends
The Outer Tie Rod End
The Adjustment Sleeve
Power Steering Pump
Power Steering Reservoir
Power Steering Fluid
Hose and Line Fittings
Power Steering Pulley
Power Steering Belt
Front End Alignment
Select a part to view solution for common problems associated with the item.
Operation: Rack and pinion type steering systems are found on most late model passenger cars and some light duty trucks. The rack and pinion system is more efficient and has fewer parts than the gearbox type systems. Most rack and pinion systems are power assisted.
Operation: Most steering racks are mounted on top of the front cross-member that connects the right and left sides of the vehicle frame. Advice: The area underneath the car where the rack mounts is subject to a lot of road debris. Make sure to clean this area of any gravel or other foreign objects before mounting the steering rack.
Operation: The coupling for the steering shaft may consist of multiple universal type joints to accommodate the angle of the steering shaft in relation to the rack. Advice: Some steering shaft couplings are held in place with a pinch bolt, others have sliding lock mechanisms or rubber joints that unbolt. Check the repair guides for the vehicle you are working on for the correct dismantling procedure. When working with rack and pinion steering, sometimes the accessibility of the steering shaft coupling can be improved by removing the rack mounting bolts first. This will usually allow a little more wiggle room in the tight spots. Recommendations: Repair guides
Operation: The inner tie rod ends connect the rack to the tie rods. Advice: The inner tie rod ends are attached to the rack in a variety of different ways depending on the year make and model of the vehicle. Check the repair guides for the vehicle that you are working on. When working with rack and pinion steering, in most cases it is best to disconnect the outer tie rod ends and remove the rack with the tie rods attached as a unit. It is easier to get to the inner tie rod ends after the rack has been removed from the vehicle. Also with the rack laid out on a bench, it makes measuring for tie rod end positioning easier. Recommendations: Repair guides
Operation: The outer tie rod end connects the steering system to the steering knuckle. It uses a ball and socket style joint to allow for the movement of the steering and suspension systems. Advice: To check an outer tie rod end grasp the tie rod near the end and move it vigorously. There should be no play in the movement of the joint. Some tie rod end joints are spring loaded and will compress to the travel limits of the spring, but should feel firm with no wobble. Before removing the outer tie rod ends, mark a spot on the tie rod and measure from that spot to the center of the grease fitting on the tie rod end. Use that measurement when installing the new tie rod end. There are a couple of different methods for removing the tie rod end from the steering knuckle. The best method is to use a tie rod end puller. It is designed to do the job with minimal physical effort. The other methods involve swinging a large hammer in confined spaces and usually end up destroying the grease boot. Recommendations: Tie Rod End Puller
Operation: The tie rod adjustment sleeve is threaded on the inside. It has right hand threads on one end and left hand threads on the other end. The adjustment sleeve connects the inner and outer tie rod ends and acts like a turnbuckle. When turned in one direction it lengthens the tie rod assembly, and when turned in the other direction it shortens the tie rod assembly. Pinch bolts tighten on the sleeve and hold it in place after the adjustment has been made. Advice: Unless they have been damaged in an accident or are severely corroded, the tie rod adjustment sleeves should not have to be replaced.
Operation: The power steering pump is responsible for creating the hydraulic pressure necessary for the power steering system to hydraulically assist the driver's steering efforts. Advice: The two main reasons for power steering pump replacement are fluid leaks and noise or whining during operation. A noisy pump can also be attributed to low fluid or air in the system. Be sure that the pump reservoir is full of power steering fluid and not full of air before replacing the power steering pump.
Operation: The power steering reservoir holds the supply of power steering fluid needed for the power steering system to operate. Advice: Some systems use a reservoir that is attached to the pump. If the pump that you buy does not come with a reservoir you will need to transfer your old reservoir to the new pump. Check the repair guides for the correct replacement procedure for the vehicle you are working on. Recommendations: Repair guides
Operation: Power steering fluid is a hydraulic oil specially formulated with lubricants, anti-corrosive agents and other additives to make it efficient for use in the power steering system. Advice: Most vehicles use the same type of power steering fluid. However there are some manufacturers such as Honda that use a specialized power steering fluid. Use of the wrong type fluid may deteriorate rubber parts and cause seal failures. Check the repair guides for the vehicle that you are working on to determine the correct power steering fluid to use. Recommendations: Repair guides
Operation: Most power steering systems will have two hoses, one pressure and one return. The return hose carries less pressure and is sometimes secured with a hose clamp. The pressure hose is usually secured with a threaded line fitting or flare nut. Advice: The pressure hose attaches to an outlet fitting that is screwed into the pump body or rack. Be sure to hold the outlet fitting stationary while loosening the line fitting with a line wrench. If the outlet fitting turns with the line fitting you can twist the metal tubing and ruin the pressure hose. Because line fittings are hollow they are susceptible to damage if a normal open ended wrench is used to remove them. Line wrenches, sometimes called flare nut wrenches are special open ended wrenches designed to slide over the tubing or line and still provide maximum grip on all sides of the fitting. When working with rack and pinion steering, sometimes the accessibility of the Line fittings can be improved by removing the rack mounting bolts first. This will usually allow a little more wiggle room in the tight spots. Recommendations: Line or Flare nut wrench set
Operation: Most power steering pulleys are pressed onto the pump shaft. In most cases the pulley must be removed from the old pump and pressed back onto the new pump. Advice: Never use a hammer to force the power steering pulley off or onto the pump shaft. The Loan-A-Tool section has the special tool needed to remove and install the pulley. Recommendations: Power steering pulley removal and installation tool
Operation: The power steering belt transmits the rotational force of the crankshaft to the power steering pulley which in turn drives the power steering pump. Advice: Check the belt for signs of slippage (shiny surface) any frayed edges or cracks. If the belt has had any fluids leaking onto it, repair the fluid leaks and replace the belt. Recommendations: Power steering belt
Operation: The term front end alignment refers to the job of aligning all of the suspension and steering components to the specifications set forth by the manufacturer. Advice: The front end alignment should be checked and adjusted as necessary anytime that a component of the steering system is replaced.
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