Power Steering Rack – Broken or not working, what now?

Date Posted:22 October 2019 

Power Steering Rack – Broken or not working, what now? main image Power Steering Rack – Broken or not working, what now? image

Here at Machter Auto, we not only supply you with the most competitive prices on high quality car parts, but we also ensure that you have all the necessary information needed to maintain your vehicle. 

In this article, we have covered power steering racks, and the important information you need to know about replacing and maintaining them. 

So, what are power steering racks?

Power steering rack

Power steering racks are sometimes referred to as the ‘rack and pinion system’ in a vehicle. This is because the steering unit consists 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 unit has small teeth, that blends into the main rack shaft.

As you may be aware, the steering rack system is an integral element to the function of your vehicle. Often what can happen is that the system may be worn out, and cause a leak. The power steering is incredibly important to the safety and functionality of a car, so you do not want to ignore it when something goes wrong.

If your car makes an unpleasant crunching noise when you turn the wheel, chances are your steering mount is worn out and needs to be replaced. Here at Machter Auto, we offer only the best power steering racks and mounts in a range of shapes and sizes for your vehicle.

When you do have to service the internal system, it must be done right. The most common failure is a broken line. This is easily replaced at no detriment to the rest of the system. If the pump fails, however, the likelihood of further damage is high. When a power steering pump fails, there is usually a good amount of metal shavings sent through the lines. The shavings wreak havoc on the valves and seals, which means that the power assist function will quickly die, and possibly take out the new pump as well if it is not replaced at the same time.

Replacing the steering rack is not physically difficult, but there are a few steps that you need to take in order to ensure that it is done correctly and that the repair lasts. Cleanliness is the key to a steering rack replacement.

 

Is a car safe to drive with a broken steering rack?

In short, no. 

You will know that your power steering rack has issues when your steering becomes difficult and inconsistent until it inevitably fails completely. If this happens when you’re driving on a relatively straight road, you will not notice it as much, and therefore will not make much of a difference. However, if you need to turn, especially if you’re travelling at a fast speed, it will not be easy or safe to do so. Although a leaking steering rack system won’t directly cause a crash, it can contribute to an incident if the driver lacks sufficient strength to handle the heavy steering.

Furthermore, a faulty system can cause significant consequences and additional costs when it comes to repairing your vehicle. This includes overheating of the steering gearbox. 

 

How can you tell if your steering rack is not functioning properly? 

Leaking steering fluid typically has a burning oil smell and is usually red or pink in colour. You may notice a small puddle of this on the ground under the rear of your motor.

Alternatively, if you have a jack, jack stands or a ramp, you can check your rack and pinion system directly for leaks. Once you are under your car, it is relatively easy to check the hoses, connections and seals.

 

Can you fix a leaking power steering rack?

If you suspect that your power steering system is leaking or not functioning properly, you should take it to the mechanic right away, and not ignore the warning signs. 

If you are familiar with repairing your car yourself, you can certainly take matters into your own hands and repair on your vehicle, you will most likely be saving on costs by doing it yourself.

Replacing a power steering rack can be an easy job on some vehicles, rear wheel drive vehicles for example, or it can be most difficult and unpleasant in others. So how do you know if yours is an easy or hard one? Reading the removal procedure in a service manual will tell you what's involved, and you can decide if it is within your skill level. However, that the manual may not be entirely accurate in that it may not give you a step-by-step process of what is required to replace your power steering rack.

Is your power steering system faulty? You may notice some of the following abnormalities. 

Even though there are no power steering pumps or hoses to worry about, there are other components in the electric power steering system that could malfunction. If a fault does occur in the system, they may exhibit some problems. These can include:

  • Difficulty turning your steering wheel
  • Uneven left-right power steering assist
  • Unusual sounds coming from the steering wheel
  • Unpleasant odor coming from near your steering wheel 
  • Unusual fluid appearing near the motor of your car

If the noise specifically sounds like squeaking, you should check the electric motor to make sure that is not the issue. 

 

If you know that there is a leak and suspect it may be coming from the rack and pinion, you should locate it and inspect the damage. 

Solution to leaking steering rack

To find your rack and pinion leak you can check three seals relatively easily.  The difficulty is predominantly in fitting underneath your vehicle, but if you have ramps or a jack and jack stands handy that can be easily accomplished, just make sure your vehicle is secure before you crawl under! The rack and pinion should be one of the lowest components on your vehicle and will likely be just under your engine’s oil pan.

Machter tip!

Once the power steering rack has been repaired, don’t forget to fill your power steering fluid! This will prevent from any further complications and ensure your system is functioning to the best of its ability. 

 

At Machter Auto [www.machter.com.au], you can shop from a wide range of auto parts online with the following benefits:

  • High-quality auto parts
  • One-stop solution to your auto needs
  • Specialist expertise and support

 

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