Do you have problems with your steering? Are you having a hard time controlling your vehicle upon startup? If you do, you'd better inspect under your auto because this might be caused by a broken steering rack. You see, this particular component is the one responsible for keeping your steering control precise. The rack-and-pinion is basically made up of the following components: an input shaft and gear, pinion, and a horizontal shaft and gear. All these parts are sealed inside a housing that's bolted to the frame of the vehicle. The spool valve in the pinion shaft is the one responsible for providing your vehicle with power steering assist. To know if your system is damaged, here's a quick guide on how to diagnose a faulty steering rack.
Tools that you'll need:
- Jack stands
- Wheel chocks
- Lug wrench
- Metric socket set
- Metric wrench set
Step 1: To begin, use the wheel chocks to secure the rear wheels and set the parking brake. This will keep your vehicle from rolling or moving during the process.
Step 2: If you have a front-wheel drive vehicle, put the floor jack underneath the front subframe. On the other hand, if you have a rear-wheel drive vehicle, put the jack under the cross member.
Step 3: As soon as the jack is securely in place, raise the front side of your car and support it using jack stands placed under the frame or cross member.
Step 4: Start your vehicle's engine and take a look at its front wheels. If they turn even without input, then you definitely need to replace the steering rack. This problem in your rack-and-pinion assembly is most likely caused by a sticking spool valve.
Step 5: Next, turn the engine off and start to move the wheels in half turns using your hand. While doing this, take note of the tie rod ends connected to the steering rack and knuckle. If you notice any unnecessary movements, then this may indicate that you need to replace the tie rods as well.
Step 6: To continue the test, use the lug wrench to remove your vehicle's front wheels. Then, find the clamps on the bellows boot and loosen them up with the help of a socket and wrench or a screwdriver.
Step 7: Next, remove the bellows boot and inspect if it has an excessive amount of power steering fluid in it. If you find that the boot is full, then this is also an indicator that you already need to replace the rack-and-pinion assembly.
Step 8: After that, use a screwdriver to remove the dust boot covering the pinion shaft, which is typically located on top of the steering rack. Once it's removed, inspect the seal for leaks. A leak in this component indicates that you need to replace the rack-and-pinion unit.
Step 9: Next, raise the vehicle to remove the jack stands. After that, lower it back until its wheels reach the ground.
Step 10: Get an assistant to help you turn the steering wheel while you observe the pinion shaft. If you notice that it moves while the wheels remain stationery, then it's time to replace your rack-and-pinion unit also.