Steering Racks

Sometimes referred to as Rack and Pinion steering racks, due to the steering unit consisting of a main rack shaft with a small pinion. The pinion shaft is attached to the vehicles steering wheel via linkages. The pinion inside the steering rack has small teeth that mesh into teeth on the main rack shaft. This converts the steering wheel rotation into lateral movement that then moves the road wheels to steer the vehicle as you drive.

The most common problem:

Reasons Why Steering Racks Fail

The two reasons why steering racks fail are fluid contamination and steering pump wear. Your steering rack plays a very important role in your vehicle and is an essential part of allowing you to control it safely. With pressures ranging from 200 to 1200 PSI, it is necessary to know when your steering rack is no longer functioning properly. All it takes is a small leak or contaminated fluid and your rack or steering pump will start to deteriorate leading to reduced steering ability and a possible failure leading to no steering at all. Lack of proper control can prove to be dangerous, especially at higher speeds.
Fluid contamination is the biggest culprit of steering rack failure. We recommend that the installer look at the oil in the old rack they are replacing no matter the reason for replacing the rack. If there is any contamination in the oil, they must replace the pump and hoses as well. If these parts are not replaced, the rack is very likely to fail again. With a few precautions taken, you can ensure a proper steering rack install and avoid potentially dangerous situations. Here is an explanation of the process to ensure you properly install your new steering rack.

System flushing

When a steering rack fails and is replaced, the system must be flushed. Start by running a gallon of liquid through the pump while the car is running and the hoses are hanging in a collection tank. The hoses are attached to the new frame and the system is filled with fluid.
- When the car is started the system reaches an operating pressure of approximately 200 PSI on the pressure side and 100 PSI on the return side.
Although the hoses are made of steel mesh, they are actually made of rubber.
As the wheel is turned, the system is further pressurized. This pressure causes some internal compression of the hoses.
- Power steering hoses are made of closed-cell rubber. Over time, the heat in the tubes will decrease and closed cells will begin to open on the inner surface.
As the system is pressurized and depressurized with each revolution of the wheel, the cells in the hose pick up and expel oil.
- Power steering oil is a cleaning agent, just like a car's transmission oil. Thus, the liquid rubs and breaks down the cells of the tubing and begins to contaminate the "flushed" system. This is similar to a dirty sponge being repeatedly squeezed into clean, soapy water.

Turn the wheel lock to lock repeatedly to check for leaks.
- The system will cycle from 1200 PSI to 200 PSI, squeezing the inside of the hose over and over again. Hoses will rupture immediately with even minimal wear (the closed cells of the rubber are open).

Power steering pump

As mentioned above, there are other variables to consider. Things to consider when installing a new steering rack Was there any residue in the fluids when the first steering rack failed?

If this is the case, you will need to replace the power steering pump and hoses or risk another failure.
The power steering pump should be inspected for wear. Like the power steering, the steering pump operates at a high pressure of 400-900 PSI. If the steering rack fails or has failed, the steering pump will continue to run with little or no oil. The rotor hub now wears out faster than usual.

There is residue from a failed seal on the frame that will contaminate the fluids and cause more wear. If you only change the steering rack, the steering pump will still be worn out and will eventually do more damage to your new steering rack. Even if the system is 100% flushed, metal particles will still accumulate if the rotor starts to rub against the sides of the pump casing due to a worn bushing. can fail. You can ensure your next power steering will last by checking for contamination, cleaning your system, and replacing your pump and hoses when they're worn. Stop wasting time and money on another shelf by getting it right the first time.

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