How to Install a New Steering Rack in Cars

by Contributing Writer

Chevrolet car remains in second place in sales behind the Ford F-Series, but when combined with the GM Sierra using the same platform, the two trucks take a solid first place. You want to keep your Chevrolet car steering as stable as possible, and if you feel it consistently pulling in one direction it may be time to install a new steering rack assembly.

Under The Hood:

 How to Install a New Steering Rack in a Chevy Impala

Make sure the problem is with the steering rack. Your steering difficulties might also be caused by leaking or contaminated power steering fluid, uneven or unbalanced tires, wheel alignment or even the power steering pump.

Set the block tooth on the upper steering shaft to 12 o'clock and straighten the wheels. Make sure the ignition key lock is in lock position.

Disconnect the negative battery cable and remove the front wheels. Then, disconnect the intermediate steering shaft lower pinch bolt, the intermediate steering shaft and both tie rod ends.

Support the center rear frame and disconnect the bolts from its rear. Lower the frame only as much as needed to disconnect the power steering pressure line, return hose, Variable Assist electrical connector and mounting bolts. Disconnect the rack and slide it through the left wheel opening.

Reconnect the lines, hoses and Variable Assist after you've replaced the rack unit. Make sure to replace the o-rings in the power steering lines to the gear and torque the fasteners to 20 foot pounds (27 Nm) of torque.

Raise the frame to its original position and align the frame with the alignment pins. Mount with new frame bolts and torque the front bolts to 118 foot pounds and the rear bolts to 122 foot pounds of torque.

Connect the tie rod ends to the steering knuckles with a torque of 22 foot pounds. Reconnect the intermediate steering shaft and steering gear stub shaft with the lower pinch bolt torqued to 35 foot pounds.

Replace the wheels and battery cable. Fill and bleed the power steering fluid, making sure there aren't any leaks. You should have the front end realigned.

Items you will need

  • Jack and jack stands

  • Torque wrench

 How to Install a New Steering Rack in a Ford Focus

Disconnect the negative battery cable and center the steering wheel. Pull off the lower instrument panel and uncouple the steering column shaft and steering gear pinion.

Lift and support the front end before removing the wheels. Unscrew the tie rod end nuts and use a ball joint press to detach the tie rod ends. Separate the stabilizer bar links and strut and spring assemblies.

Unhook the fluid cooler hose and drain the fluid into a clean container. Remove the heat shield, hose support clamp and power steering hoses from the gear. Jack the crossmember for support and remove the bolts before lowering it from the frame. Once you remove the floor seal and steering column coupling shaft, you call pull out the rack and pinion assembly.

Replace the pressure and return hose O-ring seals before you install the new gear. Tighten the gear fastening bolts to 59 foot pounds. Reattach the steering column coupler shaft and replace the original floor seal. Use pins to align the crossmember to chassis alignment holes and secure the crossmember with outer bolts tightened to 85 foot pounds and four inner bolts tightened to 148 foot pounds.

Remove the transmission jack and subframe alignment pins to reconnect the power steering hoses. Tighten the hose support clamp and replace the heat shield. Secure the support insulator to the transaxle center bolt with a torque of 37 foot pounds.

Connect the cooler hose and relink the stabilizer bars to the struts and springs (37 foot pound torque). Tighten the new tie rod end nuts to 35 foot-pounds and replace the wheels. You can lower the front end at this point.

Reattach the steering column coupling shaft and steering gear pinion with w new clamp bolt (21 foot pounds). Replace the instrument panel, refill the fluid and reconnect the battery. If you don't do a complete front-end alignment, you should at least make sure you properly adjust the toe.

Items you will need

  • Jacks to support both front end and frame crossmember

  • Ball joint press

  • Hose fitting tool

  • Clean fluid container

  • O-ring seals

  • Floor seal

  • Alignment pins

  • Tie rod end retaining nuts

  • Clamp bolt

  • Jack and jack stand

  • Torque wrench

 How to Install a New Steering Rack in a Nissan Altima

Remove the Old Steering Rack

Disconnect the battery ground and then disarm the air bag system. Remove the bolt that secures the lower steering column to the power steering gear assembly. Matchmark the shaft from the steering gear to the steering column joint to assure proper installation.

Remove the hoses from the power steering gear. Plug the hoses with gold gees to prevent leakage. Disconnect the cotter pins and the castle nuts from the tie rod ends.

Use a ball joint separating tool to take the tie rod ends from the steering knuckle. Remove the mounting nuts and bolts from the front exhaust pipe.

Take the front exhaust pipe from the car. Remove the control cable or the linkage from the transmission. Position it out of the way as needed.

Loosen and remove the mounting nuts and bolts from the power steering gear. Remove the steering gear. Take care when separating the steering column joint.

Inspect the steering gear mount bushings. Replace the bushings as needed.

Install the New Steering Rack

Align the steering column-to-steering gear matchmark; then install the steering gear to the car make sure the mounting bushings are properly installed.

Finger-tighten the mounting bolts. Torque the steering gear mounts to 54 to 72 foot pounds working right to left on one side and then right to left on the other side.

Install the pinch bolt to secure the lower steering column shaft to the power steering gear assembly. Tighten the pinch bolt to 17 to 22 foot pounds.

Connect the tie rod end to the steering knuckle. Torque the castle nut to 22 to 29 foot pounds. Tighten the nut further to align the slot in the castle nut with the cotter pin hole. Install a new cotter pin.

Reconnect the control cable or linkage to the transmission. Replace the front exhaust pipe assembly with a new gasket. Connect the steering hoses to the steering gear.

Reconnect the negative battery cable. Start the engine and then fill the power steering reservoir.

Perform a front end alignment. Enable the air bag system.

Items you will need

  • Mechanic's toolset, including a full socket set, wrenches and screwdrivers

  • Torque wrench

  • Ball joint separator

  • Replacement parts

 How to Install a New Steering Rack in a Ford F-Series

Set the transmission to neutral. Raise and support the truck. Remove the skid plate and front wheel assembly. Remove the bolt connecting the lower shaft to the steering gear.

Hold the clockspring housing still while you disconnect the lower shaft. Feel the ribbon wire as you turn the shaft rotor counterclockwise (when you feel the slightest resistance stop immediately). Turn the clockspring three turns clockwise to its center point. Use two pieces of tape to hold the clockspring in position until you reinstall.

Remove the bolt holding the clamp plate to the steering gear then disconnect the pressure and return hoses. Discard the O-ring seals.

Disconnect the tie rod nuts and outer tie rods. Hold the steering gear in place by pulling back the left inner tie rod boot. (Keep track of how many times you turn it because you will need to attach it with the same number of turns.) Find the tie rod end jam nut in the front wheel's spindle tie rod and remove it.

Unscrew the nuts and bolts connecting the bracket and steering gear to the crossmember then pull the bracket away. Pull the steering gear through the wheel opening on the left side of the truck.

Install the new rack and add new O-rings before reattaching the steering lines. Reconnect the steering system linkage and components. Make sure to use the same number of turns you used to remove them.

Check your Ford manual for the torque settings. These may include 111 foot pounds of torque for the two steering gear bracket-to-gear nuts and bolts; 76 foot pounds of torque for the two steering gear bracket-to-crossmember nuts and bolts; 111 foot pounds of torque for the two outer tie-rod end nuts; 76 foot pounds of for the two outer tie-rod end lock nuts; 17 foot pounds of torque for the clamp plate bolt holding the power steering high pressure line; 89 inch pounds of torque for the bolts on the oil drip shield; and 18 foot pounds of torque for the skip plate bolts.

Refill the power steering fluid and test for links. You should also check the front-end alignment.

Items you will need

  • O-ring seals

 How to Install a New Steering Rack in a Hyundai Santa Fe

Unhook the negative battery cable and protect it from accidental contact. Lift your front end and support it. Look underneath the car for the universal joint and loosen the indoor driver side's cover-fixing clip and noise covers. Unhook the u-joint from the rack and pinion assembly.

Remove your front wheels (right hand to left hand). Pull the engine under cover and remove the front muffler. Drain the steering system and disconnect the power steering lines and any connections on the gearbox.

Pull the slip pin from the outer tie rod with special tool (09568-34000) before disconnecting the tie rod and steering knuckle. Unhook the feed tube and remove the gearbox and mounting bolts.

Attach the new gearbox to the rubber mounts and torque the bolts to 66 to 81 foot pounds of torque. Tighten the feed tube connection to 7 to 11 foot pounds of torque, the tie rod nuts to 18 to 25 foot pounds of torque, the joint assembly connecting bolt to 11 to 14 foot pounds of torque and the hose fittings to 9 to 13 foot pounds of torque.

Mount your wheels, reconnect the battery and fill the power steering system. Check the levels and look for leaks with the engine idling.

Items you will need

  • Jack and jack stands

  • Special tool (09568-34000)

  • Torque wrench

  • Power steering fluid

 How to Install a New Steering Rack in a Honda Accord

Write down the radio theft protection code before disconnecting the battery. Unhook both cables and wait at least three minutes. Raise the entire car on supports then remove the front wheels and drain the steering lines. Also remove the driver side airbag and steering wheel.

Pull off the steering joint cover's top section. Unfasten the bolts and move the steering joint toward the steering column to disconnect. Wrap a wire from the lower slide shaft joint yoke to the upper slide shaft yoke to secure the lower slide shaft to the steering column. Now remove the joint cover lower section, remove the cotter pin and loosen the nut on the tie rod ball joint.

Separate tie rod joint from the steering knuckle. Remove the baffle plate, feed line holder mounting bolt and return hose. Disconnect the fluid lines and plug the lines and hose to prevent contamination.

Fasten the support tool (EQS02C000016) to the front subframe and remove the right and left mount bolts, gearbox mounting bolts, stiffener plate and rear bracket and bolts. Loosen the left and right subframe rear mounting bolts and lower the support tool to lower the subframe by one and one-eighth inch. Remove the right-side flange bolts to unfasten the cushion and mounting bracket.

Shift the gearbox forward and slip the pinion shaft grommet from the valve unit. Tape the pinion shaft splines and the brake lines to protect them from damage. Shift the gearbox toward the right wheel and rotate until the pinion shaft points forward. Carefully move the rack assembly toward the right wheel well until the pinion shaft clears the opening then pull it completely out.

Position the new gearbox properly then install the mounting bolts. Finish reassembling the steering system. Center the cable reel first by rotating clockwise until secure then rotating back two and a half turns so that the arrow mark points straight up.

Refill the power steering fluid and turn the steering wheel while idling to let the fluid settle. Check for fluid leaks, check the alignment and turn the tie rods to correct the steering wheel's spoke angle.

Items you will need

  • Jack and jack stands

  • Subframe support tool EQS02C000016

  • Torque wrench

 How to Install a New Steering Rack in a Chrysler Sebring

Diagnose your steering problems thoroughly. Several different problems can cause identical symptoms, so you may replace your steering rack and end up fixing nothing. You should also check your tires, front-end alignment, power steering and even brakes.

Disconnect the negative battery and place the insulator on the stud to prevent accidental grounding. Raise the front end and remove the shaft coupler pin bolt retaining pun, the pun bolt and the front wheels. Loosen the tie rod end retaining nuts and separate the tie rod end and steering knuckle.

Scratch the front suspension crossmember on all four sides as well as the body to note the alignment. You cannot readjust these. Remove the stabilizer, then lower the control arm strut shackle and bolts connecting the engine support bracket to the crossmember and transaxle mounting bracket.

Lift and brace the crossmember and remove the bolts, connecting it to the chassis. Lower the lifting brace to reach the steering rack and disconnect the power steering lines (this will drain the fluid), pressure switch electrical connector, solenoid control connector, two steering rack isolator and two steering rack saddle bracket bolts. Now you can remove the steering rack.

Install the new steering rack and connect the isolator and saddle bracket. Reconnect the power steering pressure and return lines. Reattach the crossmember, beginning with the rear bolts. Tap the crossmember with a soft-faced hammer until the scratches align.

Reconnect the remaining components in the order you took them apart. Remove the lifting brace and replace the front wheels.

Refill the power steering fluid and bleed the air from the system. Make sure to check for leaks. Reattach the battery cable.

Items you will need

  • Jack and jack stands

  • Wrench and screwdriver kit

 How to Install a New Steering Rack in a Pontiac Grand Am

Remove the battery cables then pull the front wheels. Uncouple the stabilizer shaft links from the control and the tie rod ends from the wheel knuckles. Find the lower pinch bolt and remove it from the intermediate shaft then remove the rear transaxle mount through-bolt. Unfasten the crossmember steering line bracket and disconnect stabilizer bar.

Lift the rear sub-frame. Loosen the front mounting bolts and take out the rear bolts entirely. Lower the jack 3 inches.

Unhook the steering lines from the gear and slide the gear out the left wheel opening. Mount the new gearbox and torque the bolts to 81 foot pounds. Connect the steering hoses and reinstall the sub-frame bolts proceeding from left to right rear then left to front and tighten to 71 foot pounds.

Apply 49 foot pounds, torque the stabilizer bar bracket bolts and then reconnect the steering line bracket. Apply the following torque to the remaining connections: the transaxle mount bolt, 89 foot pounds; intermediate shaft pinch bolt and tie rod nuts, 15 foot pounds and the stabilizer bar nuts, 13 foot pounds. Inspect the hose fittings carefully before you reconnect the battery. Mount the front wheels when the installation is complete.

Fill the power-steering fluid. Use the adaptor cap to secure the vacuum pump to the reservoir opening to check for leaks. Add 20 inches of vacuum and wait for no less 5 minutes. Check the vacuum level; if you loose more than 3 inches, there is a leak in one of the hose connections.

Replace the reservoir cap and run the engine briefly. Stop the engine and measure the fluid level then run the engine again until the fluid levels off. Turn the steering wheel left to right five times and stop the car to check the fluid level yet again.

Use the vacuum pump to apply another 20 inches of vacuum. Wait for 5 minutes and check the levels one last time to make sure the levels are stable. If the system checks out, cap the reservoir.

Items you will need

  • Floor jacks

  • Torque wrench

  • Vacuum pump (model j 35555)

  • Adapter cap (model J 43485)

 How to Install a New Steering Rack in a Mazda6

Disconnect the battery cables and remove the anti-lock brake speed sensor. Lift the front end for easier access and pull the front wheels, the under cover and the splash shield.

Uncouple the stabilizer bar link from the shock absorber and separate the rear ball joints and lower arm front from the steering knuckle. Unfasten the bolt to the lower side shock absorber. Mark the location of where the steering gear and intermediate shaft meet and remove the pinion shaft bolt.

Push the tie rod from the steering knuckle arm. Remove the heat shield bolts and unhook the steering lines from the gear.

Remove the engine mount center bolt (Number 1). Brace the crossmember with a jack. Make sure the jack is secure and remove the crossmember bracket. Unfasten the crossmember bolts.

Lower the entire cross member unit (the gear and linkage will still connect). Now you can remove the heat shield, return hose, gear and linkage. Replace the defective gear with the new one.

Reassemble the steering system and linkage. Use the following torque for the fittings: gear mounting bolts, 55 to 77 foot pounds; engine mount center bolt, 68 to 86 foot pounds; pressure pipe banjo bolt, 31 to 32 foot pounds; heat shield bolts, 79 inch pounds; tie rod nuts, 29 to 39 foot pounds; intermediate shaft-to-gear bolt, 13 to 19 foot pounds. Use new cotter pins with the tie rod ends.

Check the steering lines for leaks. Adjust the front-end alignment if necessary.

Items you will need

  • Jack and jack stands

  • Cotter pins

  • Torque wrench

 How to Install a New Steering Rack in a Honda CR-V

Center and lock the steering wheel. Make sure it doesn't turn while the rack and pinion gear is disconnected. Disconnect the negative battery cable, air bag and steering wheel.

Support the front end and remove the front wheels. Remove the lower cover and undercover from the driver's side dashboard and the air cleaner housing. From the underside, you need to unfasten the steering joint bolts, disconnect the tie rod ends and steering hoses, and then remove the left side flange bolts and rack and pinion mounting brackets.

Lower the rack and pinion unit to point the pinion shaft outward. Remove the grommet from the pinion shaft and slide the gear assembly through the driver's side.

Install the new unit. Reattach the bracket and flange bolts with a torque of 46 foot pounds. Connect the supply line and tighten the flare nut to 27 foot pounds of torque. Tighten the nuts on tie rod ball stud to 32 foot pounds of torque and the steering joint bolts to 21 foot pounds of torque.

Replace the air cleaner housing and dash cover, and then mount your wheels. Reconnect the steering wheel, air bag and hook the battery back up. Check the steering lines for leaks and make sure you properly aligned your front end.

Items you will need

  • Jack and jack stands

  • Torque wrench

 How to Install a New Steering Rack in a Hyundai Sonata

Unhook the battery cables. Raise and support your front end. Locate the universal joint, then disconnect the cover-fixing clip on the indoor driver's side and loosen the noise covers. Disconnect the joint from the gearbox.

Pull the right hand and left hand front wheels. Use special tool (09568-34000) to pull the slip pin from the outer tie and separate the tie rod from the steering knuckle. You also need to disconnect the flexible coupler on the steering column.

Drain the steering fluid, then remove the engine undercover and front muffler. Disconnect the pressure and return hoses and remove the connecting brackets. Continue to disconnect or remove the subframe center beam, exhaust front pipe, left lower control arm and the stabilizer bar.

Remove the gearbox mounting clamp and the clamp holding the hoses. Unfasten the gearbox mounting bolt and gently pull the assembly to the right until free of the vehicle. Make sure not to damage the bellows.

Replace the old gear with the new assembly and tighten the bolts to 44 to 59 ft-lb torque. Reconnect the stabilizer bar, control arm, exhaust pipe and center beam, hoses and brackets. Tighten the bolt to the steering column's flexible coupler between 11 and 14 foot pounds of torque and the tie rod end nuts to 17 to 25 foot pounds of torque.

Mount the wheels and reconnect the battery cables. Refill the steering fluid and check for leaks with the engine running.

Items you will need

  • Jack and jack stands

  • Special tool (09568-34000)

  • Torque wrench

 How to Install a New Steering Rack in a Chevy Silverado

Check your steering system for other problems before installing a new rack and pinion. You may simply need to balance or rotate your tires, replace the power steering fluid or align your front end. You might also be having problems with the power steering pump.

Drain your power steering fluid and remove the negative battery cable. Raise and stabilize the front end to remove the wheels. You also need to remove the engine shield, if it shipped with your model.

Unhook the power steering pressure lines and the stabilizer shaft. Unscrew the coupler clamp bolt on the intermediate shaft. Disconnect the outer tie rod. Remove the intermediate shaft from the rack assembly as well as the mounting bolts, washers and nuts.

Install the new rack and pinion assembly. Replace the washers and bolts, then torque the nuts to 136 foot pounds. Torque the intermediate shaft's coupler clamp bolt to 33 foot pounds to reconnect the shaft.

Reattach the hoses. Tighten the clamps to 20 foot pounds. Reassemble the tie rod ends, stabilizer shaft and wheels. Don't forget the engine shield.

Lower the vehicle. Reconnect the battery and replace the power steering fluid. Idle the engine to let the fluid level and check for leaks.

Items you will need

  • Jack and jack stand

  • Torque wrench

 How to Install a New Steering Rack in a Dodge Durango

Make sure the problems are the fault of your rack and pinion gear. Uneven or unbalanced tires, an unbalanced front end and problems with the power steering controls can cause similar symptoms.

Siphon the steering fluid, lock the steering wheel and disconnect your battery cables. Raise the front end and make sure the support is secure before removing the front wheels.

Separate the tie rod ends from the steering knuckles and remove the steering rack pinch bolt. Pull the steering gear coupling away and turn the gear full to the right. Disconnect the steering lines and detach the front crossmember. Unscrew the mounting nuts, bolts and washers and dispose of the nuts and bolts.

Tilt the gear forward slightly until it is clear then move to the right. To remove it completely, tilt downward and to the left. Inspect the bushings for damage or excessive wear and clean the steering knuckle tapers and tie rod studs. Use new bolts and nuts nut to attach the new rack assembly and torque to 190 foot pounds.

Connect the power steering lines making sure to tighten the pressure hose to 28 foot pounds and the return hose to 48 foot pounds. Slip the shaft coupler into place and secure with a new bolt tightened to 36 foot pounds. Reconnect the tie rods ends and knuckles with the nuts tightened to 55 foot pounds. Replace the front crossmember and your steering system is ready to go.

Mount the front wheels and lower the front end. Reconnect the battery cables, unlock the front end and refill the power steering fluid. Readjust the toe to align the front end.

Items you will need

  • Jack and jack stands

  • New mounting nuts and bolts

  • Torque wrench

 How to Install a New Steering Rack in a Nissan Pathfinder

Consider standard precautions before beginning installation. Car owners typically disconnect battery cables and lock the steering wheel to keep the front wheels at straight center. Raising the front end could make it easier to reach the undercarriage.

Pull the front wheels (and the front differential assembly if your Pathfinder is four-wheel drive). Remove the stabilizer bar brackets, the steering socket cotter pins and steering socket nuts. Discard the cotter pins. Uncouple the outer sockets and steering knuckles.

Keep a drain pan underneath the steering gear when you remove the hoses. Disconnect both hoses and plug them to avoid contamination.

Find the bolt connecting the steering gear to the lower steering shaft and remove it. Remove the gear mounting nuts and your steering rack is ready to pull.

Install the new rack. Reassemble the steering system in the reverse order or disassembly. Use new cotter pins for the steering socket.

Add steering fluid and idle the engine to check the levels and leaks. Adjust the toe if the wheels are out of alignment.

Items you will need

  • Clean drain pan

  • Cotter pins

  • Steering wheel lock (optional)

  • Support lifts (optional)