Rack and Pinion Replacement Tips

A blue car on the road.

Performing a rack and pinion replacement on your vehicle, especially after a long winter, is a project that can be done in your own garage. The rack and pinion assembly is an essential part of your steering. When this leaks, or starts to fail, it can make controlling your vehicle much harder and unsafe. If your rack and pinion is in need of replacement, then you can do this yourself, but there are some things to keep in mind. Here are a few replacement tips for your rack and pinion.

Make Sure Car is Secure

Working under your vehicle is something that many people are hesitant to do. Anytime that you are going to be working under the vehicle you should make sure that it is secure. Using a strong jack, jack stands, wheel chocks and setting your emergency brake are all great precautions to take. Doing these will give you adequate safety while working under your vehicle.

Work with Precision

While doing your own DIY work on the rack and pinion is possible, it does require a certain amount of precision. The rack and pinion assembly is not a simple bolt on that you can remove and replace without paying attention to some details. The assembly itself is made up of gears that come together to steer the vehicle when you turn the steering wheel. When you remove the old rack and pinion, pay attention to how the gears are lining up so you can install the new one in the same way.

Measurements are Important

When you remove the old rack and pinion set, one of the most important things to do is take measurements of how things are lining up. The tie rod ends, which have a lot to do with the alignment of the wheels, are connected to the rack and pinion assembly. As you remove the old rack and pinion you should take measurements of the distance between the boot and the tie rod end. This will help you get it very close to alignment when you install the new rack and pinion.

Check for Leaks

The rack and pinion is also a part of the power steering mechanism in your car. Because of this, it will have fluid traveling to it in order to make the turning of the gears easier. When you replace the rack and pinion you will have to disconnect the hoses from the power steering. Reconnecting the hoses will need to be done without cracking it, or causing any other leaks. Once the rack and pinion is replaced, check to make sure there are no leaks.

Work Patiently

One of the things that some backyard mechanics will do when there is a stubborn bolt is to pound on it with a hammer. When you are dealing with a delicate system like the rack and pinion assembly you must work patiently without breaking any of the gears, or teeth. Work at the bolts until they are free, taking as much time as you need. This will ensure that the different parts are lined up correctly when you re-install the new set.