Rack and Pinion Steering Gear
If you are experiencing issues with the steering in your car, it's worth educating yourself about rack and pinion steering gear. Because this type of steering gear is found in many modern cars, there is a good chance that it's currently in yours. By understanding how this gear works, you will be able to figure out if its the cause of your current steering problems.
For many, rack and pinion steering gear sounds like a very complicated subject. However, even if you don't have a lot of knowledge about cars, you will find that it's easier to understand what this gear does than you originally thought. When you sit in your driver's seat, you control your car with the steering wheel. While that's the only piece of your car you interact with while steering, there are several more parts that make it possible for you to control where your car goes. With a setup that is based on rack and pinion steering gear, your steering wheel is connected to the steering shaft. The steering shaft then connects to the pinion. The pinion is connected to the rack. The rack connects to the tie rod, which then connects to the steering arm. The steering arm connects to the spindle, which finally connects to the wheel. When you turn your steering wheel, all of these parts play a role to turn the wheels on your car.
The other important piece of information to understand about this type of gear is how it affects your car's steering ratio. The steering ratio is the amount of wheel turning motion that is required by you to actually turn the wheels of your car. For a light sports car, the steering ratio is lower. This means that it doesn't take much motion on your part to turn your car's wheels. For a large car, truck or SUV, the steering ratio is higher. In order to turn your car around a corner, you will have to use more wheel motion than you would if you were driving a smaller car.
Like all car parts, problems can arise with rack and pinion steering gear. Although your gear can last for around 100,000 miles, anyone who does quite a bit of driving can reach this mark in a few years. One common steering problem is that the wheel feels stiff when you begin driving on a cold morning. Another issue that many people experience is a leak in their gear. This occurs when the gear's seal wears out.
If you are experiencing problems with your car's steering, you have a couple of options. However, before you make any decisions, you need to confirm that the problem is actually being caused by your rack and pinion steering gear. There is a chance that your trouble may be arising from an alignment issue or related problem. Unless you are very experienced with car maintenance, it's worth having the source of your problem confirmed by a professional. If it is your rack and pinion steering gear, you can attempt to repair the problem or pay for a professional to repair the problem. While this may sound like the best option, in most cases you're better off buying new rack and pinion steering gear.
The reason that it's usually best to buy new gear is because there's no guarantee your repair will permanently fix the problem. Additionally, this type of gear isn't incredibly expensive. Although the cost will depend on your specific vehicle, it's not uncommon for rack and pinion steering gear to cost $300 to $400. If you have a higher end vehicle, your cost may be in the $700 range.