How to Remove a Rack & Pinion

by Don Bowman

Rack & pinion steering systems can be located either on the bottom side of the frame, on the topside of the rear A-frame between the transmission and firewall, or on the topside front of the frame. When removing the rack & pinion, the wheels should always be facing straight ahead and the steering wheel held in place, if at all possible.

Raise and support the vehicle on jack stands. Remove the front wheels using the ½-inch air gun and socket.

Remove the steering coupler. The steering coupler is located under the dash at the bottom of the steering column next to the firewall, concealed by a rubber or plastic boot. Lift the boot away from the firewall and remove the small bolt that holds the coupler from sliding off. Once the bolt is out, the metal coupler should lift up to slide off. If it moves but will not come up far enough to come off, don't worry about it--it will release the rack when the rack is lowered.

Remove the power steering lines from the rack using the appropriate-sized wrench. Remove the cotter pin from the tie rod ends with the wire cutters. Remove the nut on the bottom of the tie rod end using a wrench.

Insert the tie rod remover tool between the tie rod and the spindle, and hit it with a hammer until it pops up out of the tapered end of the spindle.

Remove the bolts holding the rack to the frame. There are two methods of attachment. One is a C-clamp on either side with two large bolts on either side holding the rack to the frame. Just remove all four bolts with a socket and ratchet. The other method is that the bolts run through the holes provided in the rack straight into the frame. Remove these bolts with the appropriate-sized socket and ratchet.

Remove the rack from the vehicle. On some vehicles where the rack sits on top of the frame, there's little room to maneuver. The best way to overcome this is to loosen the A-frame holding the engine and transmission in. This can be done safely by loosening one bolt at a time. Use the air gun and a socket, and go to the driver's front frame bolt. Loosen the bolt and leave seven to 10 threads in so it is still solid but will give room to lower the frame. Do this to all four bolts. In some cases, there are six bolts. This will lower the frame and engine cradle enough to gain access to the rack for removal. When the new rack is installed, remember to tighten these bolts once again.

Items you will need

About the Author

Don Bowman has been writing for various websites and several online magazines since 2008. He has owned an auto service facility since 1982 and has over 45 years of technical experience as a master ASE tech. Bowman has a business degree from Pennsylvania State University and was an officer in the U.S. Army (aircraft maintenance officer, pilot, six Air Medal awards, two tours Vietnam).

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