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Thread: Power Steering Rack Removal/Replace Guide

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    Power Steering Rack Removal/Replace Guide

    It's nowhere near perfect, I'll need clarification on some things, and torque specs checked, etc. Some of my torque specs are more than likely wrong. I did this mostly from memory, with checking of the manual. I couldn't find everything this time around though.

    BEFORE YOU BEGIN: Please make sure that at all times the rack is no longer connected to the steering column you have the steering wheel in a fixed position. Bungee cord it to the door, the handbrake, or something. Failure to do so will result in the clock spring unwinding itself, and attempting to turn the steering wheel in this condition will result in its breakage and failure of the SRS system. That could lead to fatal injuries, so don't be stupid/lazy, please.

    You'll need:
    Adjustable wrench (big enough to get a bit bigger than 22mm)
    22mm wrench
    19mm socket (6 sided so you don't strip the nuts on the exhaust and have the hassle I did)
    19mm wrench
    17mm socket
    17mm wrench
    17mm line wrench
    14mm socket
    14mm wrench
    12mm line wrench (I believe it's 12, maybe 11, I can't understand what I wrote, line wrench sets will have both
    sides, somebody post the correct size please)
    12mm socket
    12mm wrench
    10mm socket
    long extension for the DP nuts
    Ratchet for the sockets/extension
    Big wrench/socket for the axle nuts (I forget which size, I used an Imperial sized wrench/socket, 1.5" rings a bell, but I don't remember, and I don't have a record of it)

    That's what I used, you might need more or less. I may have missed other tools, post up if you needed anything extra. I'll apologize in advance for this being not 100%

    Jack the car up, preferably all 4 corners, set the jackstands fairly high up to give you room. Remove the front two wheels.

    Remove the downpipe. All 19mm on a stock exhaust, use the extension, it's impossible without it. Undo the two nuts on the front flange, and the two on the rear flange. I didn't worry about removing it from the cat, I kinda wish I had, it was a pain to work around the downpipe, and I destroyed my flex section.

    AWD Only: Remove the transfer case. 5 bolts, all 17mm. You'll probably need the extension for this too, unless you have a deep socket.

    Disconnect the out tie rod ends now, they're much harder to do with the knuckle dangling. 17mm nuts with cotter

    pins. There's a few ways to get them to pop out of the knuckle. I took the nuts off, flipped them over so the castle was facing down, threaded them on to protect the threds and hit the top with a hammer. Mine popped right out, you may need to use a tie rod puller to get them out. You'll need new boots on the tie rod ends if you're going to re-use the old ones (very bad idea). At this time, measure and record the distances from the inside edge of the tie rod ends to the machined boot indents on the tie rod. It should get you close enough to drive it to get it aligned.

    Next you're going to want to remove the driver's side axle (not completely necessary, but it makes the job a lot easier, and you'll need an alignment anyway) Start by removing the cotter pin in the axle nut, grab the big wrench, and remove the nut. Remove the ABS line bolt (10mm, I believe). Remove the caliper (17mm bolts), and hang it on a bent metal clothes hanger from the spring. Go back under the car, unbolt the intermediate shaft hanger (14mm?). Mark the position of the upper camber bolt so you can put it back as close as possible. Remove the two camber bolts through the knuckle and strut (17mm). Push the axle back through the hub, you'll probably need to

    remove the intermediate shaft hanger from it's two guide pins at this point, and be careful not to move the intermediate shaft around inside the transmission, it will destroy the seal. Carefully pull the intermediate shaft assembly out of the transmission. It should slide right out. Wrap up the splines in a paper towel, you don't want to damage it. Set aside.

    Remove the lower splash shield that covers the crank pulley, it gets in the way later.

    Unbolt and remove the driver's side frame member. Two up front and three farther back, two recessed in holes.

    Unbolt the passenger side frame member and remove it. There's a lot more bolts on this side, all the bolts facing downwards are the same size, there's two 12mm bolts in the clutch vac assist/little skidplate doohickey that face upwards, they're not easy to get to. If you still have the front Active Aero, you'll need to remove a bunch of 12mm bolts to be able to get it out of the way.

    Unbolt the endlinks on the swaybar. I don't remember the size, but 17mm sounds right. You'll need a wrench and a socket.

    Unbolt the swaybar mounts. 14mm? bolts. Lower the swaybar out of the way.

    Check the distance on the tie rod ends again, you need it to be pretty close.

    Either remove the old tie rod ends to get the locking nuts for the new rack, or use appropriate nuts on the new rack. The factory nuts are 22mm. If you're using the old nuts, there's no specific size for the square end of the tie rod end that I know of. I used an adjustable wrench, and held the tie rod on the ground with my feet, and backed off the 22mm nut with a wrench, using the adjustable wrench held on the floor by my weight on the tie rod.

    There's also wrench flats on the tie rods, you'll need a wrench on those as well. One of my new racks had thicker wrench flats on the tie rods, so I won't give you a size, try a wrench.

    Attach the new tie rod ends, making sure to install the nut first. Spin the nut close to the end of the threads to give you room to adjust the tie rod end. Spin the new tie rod ends on until the distance between the end of the boot groove and the tie rod end measures very close to what the old one did. Tighten the nut down to the tie rod end, locking it in place. It doesn't need to be superhuman tight, but tight enough it won't fall apart on the road. Use your judgement.

    Center the steering wheel and find a way to keep it centered. A bungee cord through the wheel and around the door handle worked well for me.

    Disconnect all the power steering lines, be prepared for a huge mess. Try to catch as much as you can in a catch basin, it smells bad and burns your skin and eyes. Tastes pretty bad too. There's different sizes for the lines,

    this is where you use the line wrenches. DO NOT USE ANYTHING EXCEPT A LINE WRENCH. I REPEAT, DO NOT USE ANYTHING EXCEPT A LINE WRENCH. You will strip the nuts, and then you're fairly well screwed. You will be using a 17mm line wrench, and the smaller line wrench. To reach the two lines on the column connection/pinion shaft, reach up through the hole you left by removing the axle. The farther forward connection on the column lines is the smaller one, the rear is the 17mm. These two connections have O-Rings, they need replaced. My remanufactured rack had them included. They're factory parts. You can order them from the dealer if your rack didn't come with them. If you have AWS, you decide the best way to disconnect the lines for you. I had a conenction I couldn't undo without fear of destroying the nuts, so I chose to do it in a way that wasn't exactly ideal. When you disconnect the AWS lines, plug them with a proper plug, it will make bleeding the AWS system much harder if you don't.

    Remove the 4 bolts holding the U-Shaped mounts for the rack, and support the rack with a box or jack.

    Reach up in the hole by the 2 main PS lines, and push the rubber boot off of the steering column bolt. You'll be doing this mostly by feel, so be prepared and don't get frustrated. The bolt is a 12mm bolt, it may or may not be

    really tight. It shouldn't be extremely tight.

    Very carefully pull the rack out of the steering column, making sure not to damage the splines on the rack on the subframe.

    Push the rack towards the passenger side, and drop the driver's side out through the bottom of the car and pull the rack out. It's heavy and awkward. This is why you jacked the car up nice and high. Ideally you want to make sure the tie rods don't move in or out of the rack, but don't worry too much if they don't, you'll fix it later.

    AWS: Depending on how you removed the AWS lines, you may or may not have a step here. If you left all the hardlines on the car, you don't have a step here. If you took the hardlines with the rack, and disconnected them from the rubber lines, you need to reconnect these on the new rack. Torque spec is 11ft-lbs. Doesn't need to be tight to seal correctly. Make sure to clean the ends of the lines well before installation. You don't want to do it all again to fix a leak.

    Swap the rubber mount pieces over to the new rack. The main rubber piece is keyed, make sure to line it up correctly. If you have AWS, make sure to line up the rubber mount with two grooves correctly to put the AWS lines through.

    Now is a good time to center the new rack, to try and make it easier on yourself later. Grab a pair of Channel Locks (or another wrench), wrap the teeth in rubber bands to protect the splines on the pinion shaft, and turn the rack all the way left, then all the way right, counting the turns. Divide the total turns in half, and turn the pinion shaft back to that point. That is approximately the middle of the steering travel.

    Insert the new rack into the car, using either a jack to support or sheer muscle power. I got mad at the jack being unwieldy, so I exhausted myself holding it up there.

    Attach the steering column, lining up the splines and pushing the rack gently upwards and backwards. Attach the driver's side rack mount loosely, just to hold the rack up. This is THE single most frustrating aspect of the entire job. The splines won't want to go together, and you'll have to do it multiple times because it will fight you.
    R135
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    - 24

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    Now, with the rack supported very well, you can crawl out from under the car, wash your hands and undo the steering wheel bungee cord. Put the key in the ignition, and turn to on, but DON'T START THE CAR, you'll destroy the PS pump. That was to disable the wheel lock. Turn the wheel from side to side. If it turns farther in one direction, you need to realign the splines, otherwise you won't be able to steer as far in one direction. If it works perfectly, you are the luckiest person on the face of the planet, go buy yourself a lottery ticket You get to skip down to the "Done with centering" step.

    To realign the rack and steering column, figure out which way the steering wheel turns farther. On my VR4, the steering wheel lined up almost vertically (90* off center to one side or the other) when the rack was centered.

    Figure out how far past the normal end point it's travelling, half that and remember it. Turn the steering wheel back to center (steering wheel flat) and then rotate the wheel to the longer steering side the distance you remembered from above. You'll probably end up dping this a few times, so you'll get good at it.

    Go down under the car, lower the rack, being mindful of the splines again. Go back inside the car, center the steering wheel (flat) and mount it in place with the bungee cord or whatever you used. Go back under the car, and

    reconnect the rack, lining up the splines carefully. Loosesly mount it again. Now you get to test the steering again, and hopefully it's centered. If not, you'll need to keep doing this until it's perfect, and the steering wheel turns the same distance from side to side.

    Done with centering? Awesome. The hard part is out of the way.

    Make sure the steering rack is all the way in the splines, and replace the bolt. It's 12mm, torqued to 13ft-lbs.

    AWS: Reconnect the AWS lines, keep in mind the fairly low torque specs. 25 ft-lbs on the rubber lines, and 11 on the hardlines

    Connect the main PS lines. USE NEW O-RINGS!!!!!! The torque spec is 11 ft-lbs for both the 17mm and the smaller nut.

    Make sure the rubber mounts are perfectly lined up and torque the U's up to 51ft-lbs.

    Check the steering again, make sure it's still perfect. You may think it's much easier to skip this step, but save yourself the hassle, and don't skip it.

    Follow the bleed procedure for your rack. Mine was fairly simple. Fill the reservoir, let it drain down, fill it again. Turn the steering wheel from lock-lock 20-40 times. Do all 40 when you have AWS. Carefully watch the

    reservoir and continue to fill it as the level drops. Turn the engine on, let it idle for a few minutes. Watch the reservoir for foaming, and keep it topped off. If it's foaming, you have a leak somewhere, check all your connections. Even if fluid doesn't get out, air can get in.

    Reconnect the axle. Remove the paper towels, and slide the intermediate shaft back into the transmission. Be very mindful of the seal, and also the hanger. The hanger will get hung up on the big bulky oil pressure sending unit, so it will need to be in the perfect position. Once it's in the trans, you can put the hanger back onto it's two guide pins, and loosely put the two bolts back in (14mm?). Pick up the knuckle, and line up the axle in the hub, and push it back together. You should use anti-seize so you can get it apart easily in the future. Quickly stick the lower camber bolt through the knuckle and strut. Make sure you get the washer order correct, I didn't and had to take it apart again. Slide the camber bolt in, and get the marks you made earlier as close as you possibly can. Tighten the nut, carefully holding the bolt in place with a wrench. The torque spec on both strut bolts is 65-76ft-lb. Reconnect the ABS sensor wire mount. Re-attach the caliper using the two 17mm bolts. Torque down to the 65ft-lb torque spec.

    Get the gigantic axle nut and lock washer, and put them on the axle. Tighten it to the torque spec (I used 165ft-lbs for my VR4, not sure on N/As) You'll probably need to stick a big screwdriver in the vanes of the rotor, and have it positioned against the caliper to stop the hub from turning. Replace the cotter pin in the nut with a new one. NEW.

    Reconnect the tie rod ends by pushing them up through the knuckle. Spin the nut on and torque to 21ft-lb for an N/A and 36ft-lb for an AWD. The tighter you get it, the tighter the fit will be, so don't worry about it spinning inside the knuckle. If it does, I don't know what to do, I didn't have that issue. Replace the cotter pins with new ones, and install them.

    Reconnect the swaybar. Attach the end links first, the torque spec is 29ft-lbs. Position the U mounts correctly. The bent end of the mount points upwards. If you get this wrong, you will strip the bolt holes when you try to tighten them. Make sure you get this right. This is a good time to replace the rubber mounts.

    Reattach the frame members, all the big bolts are 43-51ft-lb. I don't know the torque specs on the smaller 12mm bolts on the passenger side.

    Reattach splash shield/active aero. All 12mm bolts, tighten until you feel comfortable, don't over tighten them.

    AWD: Reconnect the transfer case. All 5 bolts torque to 51ft-lb.

    Reconnect the downpipe, torque to 36ft-lb on all nuts/bolts.

    Check for anything loose/not finished.

    Reattach the wheels, remove the jackstands, and lower the car. Tighten the lugs.

    disclaimer: I'm missing torque specs and bolt sizes, it's not perfect, I'm not at fault if you didn't check the manual to make sure I wasn't completely wrong on something. I take no responsibility for your actions.

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    Thanks for the write up... I'm curious though, I plan on tackling this job fairly soon, but I was going to go about it a different way. I have an aftermarket steering wheel, and what I planned to do was turn the wheel all the way to the right or left, find out what position the steering wheel is in when it stops, mark it, then remove the rack. When reinstalling, I'll wind out the rack all the way to the right or left, then install. Wouldn't that work rather than guessing where "center" is?

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    I'm not sure if the tolerances in the rack will allow that to work any better. Might be easier to guess though

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    JNS Engineering verified Feedback Score 1 (100%) Jimvr4's Avatar
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    I just replaced all my front wheel studs. The axel nuts are 32mm or you can use a 1 1/4 although it will be slightly looser. I picked up a 25" long 1/2 drive breaker bar from Harbor Freight for only about $10. With the opposite wheel planted on the ground, car in gear, and my son standing on the brakes it was a snap to bust those nuts.

    Also, the tie rod castle nuts are 19mm
    Last edited by Jimvr4; 09-17-2010 at 02:59 PM.

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    Thanks! I'll go through and add that when I get a chance. I just noticed the whole thing is out of format, weird line spacing...

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    Good stuff. Printing lol

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