Your vehicle’s steering system is a highly complex set of moving parts. Each one has to work together to turn the car where you want it to go. Part of that process is the rack and pinion. Most modern cars have a rack and pinion steering, and this particular component can be challenging to fix when something goes wrong. If you are having problems with your rack and pinion, here’s what you need to know.
What Is the Rack and Pinion?
Rack and pinion steering is the system of gears inside the steering column that changes the motion of the steering wheel when you turn, directing the wheels to follow your action and turn the car. This is a system encased in a metal tube that attaches to the axial rod, which is then connected to the tie rod. The rack and pinion connects on the other end to the steering column. If it fails, you cannot steer your car, so it’s a pretty important part of the entire vehicle.
Inside the rack and pinion, steering fluid keeps things running smoothly. It lubricates the moving parts, so the steering wheel remains responsive when you turn the vehicle. Many of the problems with the rack and pinion system are tied to problems with the steering fluid, so this is always one of the first places to check if you’re having steering issues.
Signs the Rack and Pinion Are Not Working
When the rack and pinion steering begins to fail, you may notice some warning signs. By taking care of the problem before the system fails completely, you will protect yourself from serious problems. Here are some signs that there may be issues to address:
- Grinding – Grinding noises from the steering wheel can indicate a problem with the gearbox in the steering column.
- Steering Wheel Is Tight – The steering wheel should move fairly easily under your hands. If you are feeling a lot of resistance, it can be a problem with the steering fluid, which could lead to rack and pinion issues.
- Steering Wheel Is Loose – Similarly, having the steering wheel too loose is a problem as well. When the rack and pinion is not properly aligned, it will make the steering column lose, allowing it to shake and swerve when you drive.
- Burning Smell – If the steering fluid is leaking because of problems with the rack and pinion, you may notice a burning smell. Power steering fluid already smells like burnt oil, so heating it will make the smell stronger.
- Misaligned Steering Wheel – If the steering wheel doesn’t return to the straight position after you make a turn, it indicates a problem with the rack and pinion.
Can a Rack and Pinion Be Repaired?
Rack and pinion problems can sometimes be repaired, but more often the entire unit needs to be replaced. Taking your vehicle to a mechanic you trust for a fair assessment. Most of the time, the answer will be replacement.
Cost to Replace Rack & Pinion
Replacing your vehicles rack and pinion costs between $400 and $1,700 depending on the make, model, and year of the vehicle.
While some problems with the rack and pinion can’t be avoided, proper maintenance of your vehicle can prevent necessary issues. Take the time to replace the power steering fluid when needed, and you can extend the life of your rack and pinion and avoid unwanted and untimely repairs.
If you are noticing steering trouble, get help from a trusted team of mechanics at My Transmission Expert. We can promptly address the problem, so you can get back on the road safely with a steering wheel you can trust to do its job.
We have two repair shops in Houston; one is on Jones Rd near Jersey Village and the other is on Hwy 6 North and West Little York Rd. We also have on in the suburb of Katy at Mason and Kingsland Blvd; our newest automotive shop in Montgomery; and another shop in Porter across the street from Kingwood.
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