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Power Steering Rack Replacement

The power steering rack is a critical component in the steering of your vehicle. It determines where you aim your front wheels when turning the steering wheel.

You like to turn the steering wheel and you like to think the car will turn when you do so. The power steering rack is entirely responsible for this. It is the body of components that make up your steering system. Due to the importance of steering in a car, it’s important everything is in tip top shape to keep you safe.

What is a Power Steering Rack?

The power steering rack is connected to the steering column which in turn, receives input from your steering wheel. When you turn the wheel, it rotates the column shaft which in turn then rotates a gear. This gear ‘grabs’ the grooves on the steering rack and this is what moves the steering rack left or right.

The rack itself is the ribbed rod that the gears mesh to in order to move the rack left and right, however, sometimes the power steering assembly is included in the ‘rack’ terminology. 

If you've ever tried to turn the wheel of your car while the engine is off, you'll know how hard this is. This is where the ‘power’ steering component comes in. The power steering pump is located on the engine, and feeds fluid to a rotary valve somewhere on the steering column. It multiplies your strength in turning the wheel and makes it easy to turn the wheels.

The power steering pump is run off of the engine, via a pulley. This in turn builds pressure in the power steering fluid, so that when you turn the wheel, the fluid the rotary valve assists the turning of the column.

It’s all very complicated, which is part of the reason why you don’t want to have to replace it.

Why do you need a power steering rack?

If your power steering rack starts to fail or breaks completely, this can hinder your ability to steer the car. Without assistance or if the steering is inhibited, it’s not the sort of thing you want to try to ignore.

If your power steering fails then it’ll make turning difficult and give you more of an arm workout than bicep curls.

So between the danger of not being able to turn, and the difficulty of turning, the power steering rack is pretty important.

What symptoms mean you need a new power steering rack?

You have some difficulty turning the steering wheel. You notice power steering fluid leaking onto the driveway. Power steering fluid leaking into other components like tie rods and pinion. A noticeable whine when the wheel is turned in either direction is also a good indication.

How do you replace a power steering rack?

Replacing the power steering rack is a very complicated job and best left to the professionals.

The mechanic will hoist the car up and then remove both front wheels. The tie rods are disconnected from the steering knuckles and the power steering fluid is drained and hoses disconnected. All connecting bolts and lines will be removed to allow the rack to come out. The steering column is disconnected from the rack and the rack is removed through the underneath of the car. The new power steering rack is fitted and column reconnected. The hoses and lines are reconnected and the power steering fluid is topped off. A basic alignment is made with the tie rods and then they are secured. The power steering is checked, wheels bolted on and the car is lowered off the hoist. The front wheels will be aligned and the car started and run to check for any leaks or issues. A test drive will be completed and the steering put through various loads to check performance

How much does a power steering rack replacement cost?

Due to the difficulty, cost and experience required to perform the replacement, expect a power steering rack replacement to cost between $750 to over $2500, depending on cost of the new rack and difficulty to fit it.

How often do I need to replace my power steering rack?

Only when an issue arises with the rack itself.

More often than not, it’s the smaller and cheaper components. The gears will need grease or the end boots have failed for example. 

Is a broken power steering rack unsafe?

Yes, as it affects steering it makes it an extremely important component.

It’s not something that you want to fail and if you experience any issues with steering you should get your car looked at.

 

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