The steering rack in your car's rack-and-pinion steering system can last up to 150,000 miles. However, wear and tear due to continuous vehicle usage may shorten its lifespan. When you notice that your car doesn't naturally drive in a straight line, it's important that you start inspecting for damage immediately. Below are some of the common steering rack problems and their corresponding detection tips.
Your steering wheel may vibrate while you're driving at 40 mph and above. To verify if your steering rack is the one causing the vibration, go out for a test drive. If the steering wheel vibrates as you drive, then it's probably time to replace your steering rack. But if the steering wheel vibrates only when you brake, then it might be caused by a warped rotor, and not a worn steering rack.
A difficulty in steering may be caused by a leaking power steering rack. To check for leaks, inspect your Pontiac Montana steering rack. Look for visual signs of damage such as cracks and holes. If upon inspection, you find the power steering rack to be punctured or damaged, replace the rack immediately.
Listen for thudding, clunking, or grinding noises as you drive. These sounds are common signs of steering rack damage according to The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs. Confirm steering rack damage by jacking the car up and getting the tire off the ground. Shake the tire with one hand on the tire's top and the other at the bottom. A damaged steering rack will produce clunking or clicking sounds when you shake the tire off the ground.
Observe the feel of the steering wheel while driving. One sign of a worn steering rack is when you feel looseness or slippage in the steering wheel. This may cause the car to excessively pull to one side or the other. Monitor the steering wheel continuously as you drive. If it doesn't automatically correct itself after making a turn, then you may need to check the steering rack and repair or replace it.