When you turn the steering wheel of your Toyota, the tires turn effortlessly, and there are a large number of parts that contribute to this action. At the bottom of the steering column is the Toyota steering rack, which takes the input from the steering wheel and translates into the actual movement of the tires. A pinion gear on the end of the steering column interfaces with teeth on the Toyota steering rack, and when the steering rack moves left or right, it pushes or pulls the tires in the appropriate direction through the tie rods and ball joints. Often, this is assisted by the power steering pump, which allows the driver to turn the wheels easier, through the addition of hydraulic pressure. When the vehicle rounds a corner, each tire must turn at a different angle to avoid dragging the tires and to complete the turn efficiently. The natural offset of the Toyota steering rack helps in this process. On some vehicles, the teeth of the Toyota steering rack have varying spaces in between, to allow for easier steering at the extremes of the turning radius. Over a period of many years, friction and corrosion will start to wear down the teeth of the Toyota steering rack, resulting in less accurate steering. In addition, the ball joints may suffer from the same forces. When it becomes time to replace the Toyota steering rack, you will find the correct version for your vehicle in our vast online catalog, for a great price. The Toyota steering rack can be easily ordered through our secure web site, or with a toll-free phone call, at any time of the day.
How to Replace a Worn-out Toyota Steering Rack
Your Toyota's power steering seems to work just fine, until one day, you turned the steering wheel and the vehicle didn't go the way you wanted it to. It's acting up, apparently. You checked the belt, and it looks okay. There's still enough fluid for your power steering. As it turned out, there's internal wear in the steering assembly. You have to swap to a new steering rack. The fluid has turned darker and seemed metallic because of the worn metal inside the housing. Replace a shot Toyota steering rack before the situation makes a turn for the worse. Here's how:
Difficulty level: Moderate to Expert
Things you'll need:
- New power steering rack
- Jack and jack stands
- Ratchet and socket set with extensions
- Pliers or vise grips
- Tie rod separator/ball joint fork
- Power steering fluid and filter
- Transmission fluid
- Wire brush
- Engine support fixture, if needed
Step 1:Check the vehicle manual to get acquainted with the steering assembly. This will give you an idea how tough the job is since steering rack replacement may vary for different vehicles. It's easier on others; quite nasty for some. Familiarize yourself with the nuts and bolts and other fasteners as well as their recommended torque. Map out all the holes and fluid pressure and return line ports. The manual can tell you which parts need to be replaced along with rack.
Step 2:Get better access to the wheel wells by removing the front wheels. Undo the lug nuts. Using a jack, raise the vehicle and let it perch on stands for support.
Step 3:Disconnect the clamp that holds the steering column to the pinion shaft. You can then remove the outer tie rod ends using a puller. If these outer tie rod ends will be reused, don't pull them out of the knuckles with a fork-type remover as this can ruin the grease seals. You can use a puller or break loose the lug nuts and rotate the tie rod ends using a pipe wrench. The rods should be unscrewed from the ends. You can now unfasten the rack from the chassis.
Step 3:Disconnect the fluid lines. The hydraulic fluid should be drained. By flushing, gunk will be removed from the lines and the pump. The return line must be disconnected to the fluid tank and the fluid should be drained into a receptacle through the return hose. Look for the low-pressure side, typically sealed with a hose clamp. The hole should then be blocked. The pressure line must be detached from the rack and should be led into the container. Once the fluid is drained, refill with fresh fluid and tap the starter to pump the fluid through and clean the lines. Loose ends should capped or plugged.
Step 4: Get the old rack out. You may have to undo some bolts or move some components to give the old rack some clearance. Once out, wiggle in the new rack. You may have to do some twisting and lifting to fit this in. After connecting this, re-attach the fluid lines. Set everything back in place. The rack should be positioned properly. Re-connect the lines, steering shaft, and rack attachment hardware. New cotter pins in the tie rod ends' nuts should be used.
Step 5:Put back the front wheels. You have to attach the hoses, except for the reservoir return line, which should be directed into the container. Once you've refilled, start the vehicle to run the fluid through. The fluid has to be clean before you re-connect the pressure line.
Note: The toe-in should be adjusted or reset. Otherwise, vehicle handling will be compromised. This may wear out tires faster.
Step 6:Bleed out the trapped air in the system. The vehicle should still be on stands. As you fill the reservoir, let the engine idle. Turn the steering wheel from side to side to the farthest end, about 10 to 12 times. Check the fluid. If it looks tan or foamy, this is mixed with air. Switch off the vehicle and leave this on for about 15 minutes. Top off the reservoir again and turn on the vehicle. Repeat this till the fluid is back to its color.
Step 7:Use a jack to lower the vehicle back to the ground and take it off the stands. Lug nuts on the front wheels should be properly torqued.
Tips and warnings
- Don't improvise tools. Use the prescribed instruments. If you don't have them, it may be best to have the work done by a professional.
- Give yourself enough time to explore and complete the job.
- Have a vehicle manual by your side for the specifics.
- Be careful in handling heated components or objects, hazardous materials, and sharp tools.