How Does a Rack & Pinion Work?

by Jim Hagerty

What is Rack & Pinion?

Rack and pinions are simple mechanisms where a pair of gears come together to steer a vehicle by circular and lateral motions. As the pinion, which interlocks with the rack, makes circular movements, the rack is moved side-to side.

Steering Mechanism Processes

As a steering wheel is turned, it spins the pinion, resulting in a series of other movements. Because the pinion moves in a circular fashion, and is attached to the rack, centrifugal force slides the rack back and forth. Tie rods are connected to each end of the rack, which activate the steering arms. Steering arms are connected to each wheel, and cause them to turn.

Benefits of Rack and Pinion Steering

Rack and pinion steering systems use fewer moving parts. This allows a driver to have more control over the the direction of the wheels as the car makes turns. This often reduce the amount of effort required to steer the car. Because the steering column does not directly move tie rods, rack and pinions are generally standard on most new cars and trucks. Rack and pinion steering is also smaller and requires less space than larger, conventional steering systems.

About the Author

Jim Hagerty is a writer and journalist who began writing professionally in 1996. He has had articles published in the "Rock River Times," "Builder's Journal" and various websites. He earned a Bachelor of Science in public relations and journalism from Northern Michigan University in Marquette.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera Atlantadrives.com