The steering rack is composed of a rack enclosed with a steering pinion. It is connected to the steering wheel through the set of shafts and U-joints. As the steering wheel is turned, the pinion moves and pushes the steering rack either to the left or right. The ends of the steering rack are connected to the front wheels so the steering rack inputs and turns them to the left or the right as well.
A power steering rack utilizes an engine-driven pump to supply high-pressure hydraulic fluid to the steering rack when the wheel is turned. This enables an easier turning of the steering rack. This also means that there is a big amount of hoses, seals, and o-rings to contain the hydraulic fluid.
If the power steering rack wears out badly, it will start to leak. The absence of the hydraulic fluid will result to a hard, difficult steering. This is the right time to replace a new or re-conditioned replacement steering rack.
Steering Rack Buyer's Guide
- The steering rack is an integral component of a vehicle’s rack-and-pinion steering mechanism.
- It is a metal bar that sits parallel to the front axle that moves left and right as the steering wheel is turned.
- This mechanism is responsible for converting the rotational motion of the steering wheel into linear motion that turns the vehicle’s wheels.
- There are two types of steering racks based on operation: manual and power steering racks.
- The cost of a steering rack will depend on your vehicle’s specific year, make, and model. OE replacement parts will generally cost you anywhere between $100 and $2,000.
- The symptoms of a faulty steering rack include: difficulty steering in one direction, tight steering wheel, power steering fluid leak, and grinding noises.
- Steering difficulty can easily lead to catastrophic road accidents. Replacing this part is critical to your safety and those of other vehicles on the road.
What is a steering rack?
The steering rack is an integral component of a vehicle’s rack-and-pinion steering mechanism. It is a metal bar that sits parallel to the front axle that moves left and right as the steering wheel is turned. The movement of the steering rack allows the driver to aim the front wheels in their desired direction.
Part of this bar has grooves on one side which comes in contact with the pinion gear. This mechanism is responsible for converting the rotational motion of the steering wheel into linear motion that turns the vehicle’s wheels.
How does a steering rack work?
In order to know what a steering rack is for, it’s important to understand how a rack-and-pinion steering mechanism works.
Rack-and-pinion steering is one of the most common types of steering mechanisms on vehicles today. Its main role is to turn rotational motion into linear motion for smooth and efficient turns.
When you turn the steering wheel, a connecting metal rod called the steering column rotates. On the other end of the steering column are a steering shaft and worm gear that is called the pinion.
This gear sits on the side of the steering rack which has grooves cut into it, pushing the rack left and right as the steering wheel is turned. Each end of the steering rock has a tie rod that links it to the kingpin. This movement, in turn, directs the wheels when making a turn.
Types of steering racks
There are two types of steering racks based on operation: manual and power steering racks. Manually operated steering racks work as described in the section above. A power steering rack, on the other hand, uses an additional device on one side of the rack that has an internal hydraulically actuated piston.
As the steering wheel is turned, hydraulic fluid is directed to the left or right side of the piston by a rotary valve. This applies pressure on the piston, minimizing the required effort to move the steering rack. There are also electric power steering systems that replace the hydraulic power steering rack and pinion system with a motor.
How much is a steering rack?
The cost of a steering rack will depend on your vehicle’s specific year, make, and model. OE replacement parts will generally cost you anywhere between $100 and $2,000. These are often sold individually or as part of a kit. It is recommended to have a licensed mechanic install this part for you to ensure proper fitting.
Symptoms of a faulty steering rack
There could be several reasons why you’re encountering problems with steering your vehicle. Here are the signs that often point to an issue with the steering rack.
Difficulty steering in one direction
One sign of a bad steering rack is difficulty maintaining the direction of the vehicle. You may notice that your car wanders at both high and low speeds, making it hard to keep in one lane.
Holding the steering wheel in place will also require more effort than usual. Another thing you should check for is a “numb spot” between 11 o’clock and 1 o’clock in the steering wheel where you may experience little to no steering response.
In order to rule out a wheel alignment issue, you should look for unusual wear limited to the inside or outside of the tire. This is a sign that the problem lies with the steering rack.
Tight steering wheel
Heat buildup in the steering rack or low hydraulic pressure in the power steering unit can cause the steering wheel to feel tight and harder to turn. As soon as you notice this symptom, it is best to have a certified mechanic check your vehicle to accurate diagnose the part that needs repair or replacement.
Power steering fluid leak
Decreased levels of power steering fluid can also lead to difficulties steering your vehicle. If you’ve topped it off, but levels continue to be low, there could be an issue with the steering rack.
You can easily distinguish power steering fluid from other automotive liquids because it usually has a burning oil smell and comes in pink or red color.
As soon as you notice a leak, immediately seek the help of a trusted mechanic. Aside from being a fire hazard, the fumes produced by burnt power steering fluid are considered a health hazard.
Listen for any thudding or knocking noises while driving your vehicle. A loose steering rack will create noise while you’re turning left or right. Lack of lubrication or excess heat caused by metal-on-metal contact is often the reason for these grinding noises.
Why is replacement important?
A steering rack will typically last around 150,000 miles but it may fail earlier with excessive wear and tear. Although this part is made of steel, the steering rack is far from indestructible. The high temperatures under the hood combined with exposure to debris and the elements underneath the vehicle can cause this part to break down.
Driving with a worn-out or damaged steering rack can compromise your ability to take full control of your vehicle. Even the slightest steering difficulty can lead to catastrophic road accidents. Replacing this part is critical to your safety and those of other vehicles on the road.
To search the right steering rack for your vehicle, you may use our website’s search filter. Simply plug in your vehicle’s specific year, make, and model to browse through our vast selection of applicable parts.
Important Facts You Need to Know About Steering Rack
Can't get your front wheels to follow the directions directed by your steering wheel? Take control of their movements by installing a Steering Rack today.
tch between you and your steering wheel? And you are now tired of racking your brain again and again just to find the root cause of your steering woes? If you turn your steering wheel left and your wheels veer right, you know it's more than just a minor steering problem. Restore your steering system's efficiency by replacing your malfunctioning Steering Rack today.
A power steering rack or a manual steering rack is the modern-day equivalent to the steering gearbox popularly used in older vehicle models. This rack interprets the directional and force input from your steering wheel and uses this force to either pull or push your front wheels into your intended direction. It basically changes and increases the rotational movement of your steering wheel into side-to-side action needed in turning your wheels. Because of the increased directional input in your wheels, your effort in turning the steering wheel is greatly reduced, making it easier for you to control your vehicle.
When the Steering Rack starts to make clunking noise each time you corner or drive over bumps, then it's time to replace this component. To replace the steering rack, look for it on your chassis and remove its surrounding components without displacing the steering rack boots to prevent part contamination. Realign your front wheels after replacing your power steering rack to make sure your wheels are well connected to your steering mechanism. It's as easy as that. So why don't you replace your defective steering rack now?
Steering Rack: Just the Facts
Introduced as an alternative to the steering gearbox, the steering rack is like a linear gear that meshes with the pinion. The steering rack is connected to the steering wheel through the pinion and the steering shaft. Once the pinion is moved by the steering wheel's turning, the pinion pushes the steering rack from side to side. The movement applies steering torque to the pivots of the steered wheels through the tie rods and the short lever steering arm. More simply put, the steering rack is responsible for converting the steering wheel's rotational motion into linear motion in order to turn the wheels. Because of the part's exposure to extreme pressure, the steering rack eventually wears out and needs replacement. To ensure that you get the best deals on your vehicle's next steering rack, trust only CarParts.com! We have the best steering rack for your specific vehicle model.
• A high-quality steering rack from us features quick and accurate steering response.
• Our steering racks are constructed from tough materials, to ensure durability.
• You can get your vehicle's next steering rack for a lower price when you shop here at CarParts.com.
Choosing the Right Steering Rack
When it is separated from your entire steering system, the steering rack might look like a worthless metal rod. But without the steering rack, your car would not be able to maneuver through the streets. So if your steering wheel starts feeling a little loose or you suddenly notice your tires are misaligned, it's about time you replace your steering rack.
Know your steering system
Since your steering rack is part of bigger system-the rack-and-pinion assembly-the type of steering rack you need would depend on the steering system you have on your car. Most cars are powered by normal rack-and-pinion steering. The steering rack for this kind of rack-and-pinion gear set is relatively easy to spot. It's a simple, lightweight rack with differently sized metal teeth. Unlike a simple steering system, a power steering system's rack has a slightly different design and contains more parts. On the middle of the steering rack, you'll find a cylinder with a piston. This piston is designed with two fluid ports to direct higher-pressure fluid to one of its side and eventually provide the power needed to steer your car. So if your car has a power steering system installed, finding the right steering rack can be more tedious. Aside from looking at the quality and fit of the rack for a power steering system, you should also inspect the fluid ports and their compatibility with your steering system's fluid lines.
Purchase the entire assembly
Whether you have a normal rack-and-pinion system or a power-assisted one, be sure that your steering rack includes fittings for inner tie rods. This ensures that everything will fit perfectly with the entire system. This will also help you prevent leaks. Another advantage of purchasing the entire assembly instead of just one part is that there are no core changes made on the assembly. This eliminates the hassle of returning your old part for a core refund. So remember, when buying a new steering rack, don't just buy the rack-buy the complete assembly for a more direct fit and increased life span.
Check the warranty
As with any part of your car, never purchase without a warranty. This saves you time, effort, and money if the serviced part is not functioning as expected. The standard warranty for steering racks is for one year. The mileage terms will vary according to the type of steering system you have. Since a normal rack-and-pinion steering has less moveable parts (add to this the fact that it's usually used for smaller loads), it is usually covered by an unlimited mileage warranty. On the other hand, the more complicated system, like a power steering system, is more susceptible to wear. Therefore, it does not have the same warranty terms as a normal system. Distributors and sellers usually cover 15,000 to 18,000 miles.
Installing a New Steering Rack on Your Power Steering System
Does your wheel feel a little loose? Do you hear thudding and clunking sounds when you drive? Are your tires more worn than they should be? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then there might be something wrong with your steering rack. Before your whole steering system gets worse, replace your steering rack with these easy steps:
Difficulty level: Easy
Things you'll need:
- Jack stands
- Brake line wrench set
- Power steering fluid
- Ratchet and socket set
- New steering rack
Step 1: Lift and secure your car using a jack and jack stands. You will be crawling underneath your vehicle to work on your steering rack, so be sure that your car is properly secured. Also see to it that your wheels are straight and the steering wheel is locked before working on the rack itself.
Step 2: Once you've got a good view of your steering rack, remove the tie rod ends from the steering knuckles using a wrench.
Step 3: Now that you've loosen all the bolts and attachments, locate your power steering lines. It is usually connected to the rack with the brake line wrenches. Since these lines carry a lot of pressure, crack them first before loosening.
Step 4: Remove the bolts from the steering rack and pull this off from the column. Remember that before unbolting the rack from the frame, it should be properly supported with either your hand or a spare set of jack stands.
Step 5: Put your new steering rack in place. Center it before completely installing the rack. Reassemble all the other parts that were removed in steps 2 to 4 in reverse order.
Step 6: Properly secure all bolts and make sure everything is in place before testing your installation job. To test your new steering rack, unlock your steering wheel (while your car is still lifted) and turn the wheels from side to side 10 times. Aside from knowing if you've installed the rack correctly, testing your steering rack will also help work the air out of the power steering system.