What is the Steering Rack/Gearbox all about?
A rack and pinion system uses several large components. This includes your main-shaft, universal joints, and an underlying intermediate shaft which immediately responds to all your steering wheel movements.
This rack and pinion system is designed to make your car’s steering easier to turn with the added help of a power assisted pump or motor. The typical car sold these days now weighs over 3000 pounds and larger vehicles like trucks and SUVs often weigh over 5000 pounds. The steering rack along with this power assist system are what allow you to easily move all that heavy mass between the steering wheel and your tires without so much as breaking a sweat.
Keep in mind:
The steering rack requires heavy and sometimes sophisticated equipment to operate properly. Many of the big and heavy parts that are underneath your vehicle, such as the shafts and universal joints, can gradually wear out over the course of time.
If you feel your steering is tight, chances are your rack is perfectly fine. It’s when your steering feels sloppy, or when you start seeing power steering fluid underneath your vehicle, that an inspection should be done. Also, keep in mind that damage to major suspension parts, such as your CV axles, ball joints, and tie rod ends, can make your steering feel loose and uneven.
This is why it’s a good idea to have your entire steering and suspension system inspected whenever you suspect that there is an issue with your steering.
How it’s done:
- The vehicle is raised and supported on jack stands
- The tires are removed and tie rods and steering gear disconnected
- The steering rack and gear box is replaced
- The system is filled with new fluid, tires reinstalled
- The vehicle is lowered off of the jack stands
If your steering starts to feel clunky or uneven, get it inspected at the earliest possible opportunity. Even a minor issue, such as a cracked seal in between major components, can leak power steering fluid onto your steering rack. This can lead lead to the deterioration or even the complete failure of your steering rack. It’s worth your time to contact one of our top-rated mechanics so that the quickest and most reasonable solution can be pursued for your steering system.
What common symptoms indicate you may need to replace the Steering Rack/Gearbox?
- Sloppy or uneven steering that takes varying levels of effort.
- Power steering fluid leaks that are usually at the rear of the engine bay or underneath your car.
- A hard ‘clunk’ noise when you go over large bumps coupled with a feel of being disconnected to the steering wheel.
How important is this service?
Steering is one of those aspects of driving that you never want to shortchange. Often times, a small issue can be due to little more than a leaking power steering hose or a malfunctioning power steering pump. These both tend to be far less expensive repairs than a steering rack.
However, if your steering rack is in need of replacement the consequences of ignoring it can be dire. The worst accidents tend to happen due to the loss of control on a vehicle and your steering rack is the one component that enables your steering to remain precise. If your steering is giving you trouble, it’s important to address it promptly.