Steering racks are an essential part of the rack and pinion types of steering assemblies that are on modern day vehicles. There is a second type known as the re-circulating ball. With rack and pinion steering, any time you apply pressure to the steering wheel as you attempt to steer your vehicle, energy passes onto the pinion gear and is then transferred to the steering rack. There is a tie rod on the end of all steering racks which pushes and pulls the spindles to make the wheels turn. Steering racks have teeth that mesh together as the pinion gear is rotating and moving the steering rack on your vehicle from side to side. Many modern cars are manufactured today with rack and pinion steering.
The pinion is the part that rotates when you turn the steering wheel. Steering racks are actually the straight bar part that the pinion engages as it slides across to turn the wheels. The pinion is connected to the steering wheel and rack by an assembly of joints and shafts. Steering racks are connected to the front wheels on both ends. Turning the steering wheel either way translates into the turning of the vehicles wheels via the steering racks on cars that have rack and pinion steering.
Sometimes steering racks wear out and need to be replaced. Steering racks have some common signs that let you know when they are wearing out. These signs include such things as grinding noises when turning the steering wheel, hard cornering while turning, and intermittent spots of resistance during turning and whining noises in slow turns. Steering racks are not going to last forever and over time all of them will show signs of wear and tear.
Steering rack and pinion steering assemblies are very common. Cars equipped with this type of steering respond almost instantly to the drivers pressure on the steering wheel. Steering racks are used on most sports cars and people who have this type of steering system typically are very happy with it and state that they feel they have more control over the vehicle than those who drive cars with re-circulating ball steering.
Power steering racks are designed slightly different than standard rack and pinion steering racks. This is because they depend on oil. On power steering racks, part of the racks have a cylinder filled with oil and a piston connected to the racks middle section. On each side of the cylinder on all power steering racks is a fluid port. Power steering racks use an engine-driven pump to supply high pressure hydraulic fluid to keep the rack lubricated. When power steering racks leak the hydraulic oil, there will not be enough fluid in them to enable ease of steering. Power steering leakage is a significant problem for steering racks to have.
When power steering racks leak, they will need to be repaired or replaced. There are several manufactures of power steering racks. Steering rack replacement is very expensive and it pays to shop around to find the best deal on them. You can find power steering rebuild kits but they are very expensive as well. If you are going to replace or rebuild a steering rack you should look to the car’s service manual for more information on steering racks. The service manual should have a diagram also. If you are shopping for power steering racks, you can find them online at many auto parts discount sites or at your local auto part store. If you are not comfortable with replacing your car’s steering assembly you can always take it to a qualified mechanic for any repairs needed.