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Rack and pinion steering is used on the vast majority of modern cars, as it’s a practical and straightforward way to make turning the wheels easier. It’s a complex mechanism, however, and if there’s a major fault then the chances are it will need replaced instead of repaired.
In general, rack and pinion replacement costs less than it would to repair it. Repair requires a significant time investment, meaning your labor costs are likely to be far higher. The complexity of the repair also means that a full replacement tends to be a safer and more reliable option.
For replacement parts, the cost will typically be between $215-$1049, with parts and labor together costing between $372-$1647. Due to the challenging nature of the replacement, most people will need to use a mechanic rather than attempting the install themselves.
Rack and Pinion Replacement Cost Comparison
We’ve pulled together some expected costs from some of the leading national chains for rack and pinion replacement, looking at the pricing for the parts alone as well as how much you can expect to pay for parts and labor.
|Parts & Labor||12 months||$430 – $1450|
|Parts & Labor||12 months||$370 – $1340|
|Parts & Labor||12 months||$520 – $1610|
|Parts||Limited||$218 – $506|
|Parts||Limited||$100 – $403|
What Is Rack and Pinion Steering?
By far the most common type of steering on modern cars, trucks and SUV’s, rack and pinion steering is essentially a fairly simple mechanism. The gearset in enclosed within a metal tube, with either end of the rack sticking out of opposite ends of the tube. Each end of the rack is connected together by a tie rod, which is also connected to the steering arm.
The steering shaft is connected to the pinion gear, and when the steering wheel is turned the gear spins to move the rack. The rack and pinion gearset uses the rotational of the steering wheel and coverts it to the linear motion required to turn the wheels. The gear reduction it provides also makes it far easier for the driver to turn the wheels.
The steering ratio of a car is how far you turn the steering wheel compared with how much the wheels themselves turn. On most cars, moving the wheels from lock to lock will take around 3-4 full turns of the wheel.
On sports cars and other lighter vehicles the steering ratio is typically lower than trucks, SUV’s and large cars. The lower ratio makes the wheels more respond faster than a high ratio, which is something you’d want in a faster, more nimble car. The lower weight of these vehicles means turning the wheels is still fairly easy, even with a lower steering ratio.
Benefits of Rack and Pinion Replacement
Having functional, responsive steering is obviously the most important aspect of any car, so it’s vital to ensure that it’s in full working order at all times. Any major issues with the rack and pinion steering could put your safety at serious risk, so if you suspect any problems take your car to a garage immediately.
The benefit of replacing rack and pinion steering over having it repaired is that it’s more cost effective and a far easier job. If there’s an option to replace a damaged rack rather than have it repaired, most mechanics will recommend the replacement over the repair.
When Should You Have The Rack and Pinion Steering Replaced?
In general, your car should be fairly responsive when you turn the wheel. There are several common signs that you may be having issues with your rack and pinion steering.
You may find that the steering becomes jerky or otherwise difficult to maneuver, and may even have a reduced ability to turn. It’s common for damaged steering to make a lot of noise when turning or going over bumps in the road.
You may notice a difference in how the steering feels in either direction – it may be easier to turn right than left, for example. While not always indicative of an issue with the rack and pinion steering, it’s worth taking to a garage to have it assessed. The last thing you want is your steering to stop working when you’re travelling in the car.
There are various diagnostic tests which a mechanic will carry out to determine the exact cause of a steering fault. They’ll usually check the alignment of the car and look for any potential issues with the power steering module. If the rack and pinion gear itself is faulty, chances are it will need to be replaced.
What Is Done During Rack and Pinion Replacement?
- The mechanic will start the repair by ensuring the wheels are straight and the steering column is locked. A belt may be used to ensure the wheel isn’t moved during the repair
- The front tires will be removed, and the universal joint coupler will be removed from the pinion shaft
- The power steering lines will be disconnected from the rack, and the tie rod ends will be separated
- The bolts will be removed from the rack and pinion brushing brackets, and the assembly will be removed through the wheel well
- The new unit will then be installed, with the mechanic reversing the removal steps
- The air will be bled from the power steering system, and the fluid will be topped up as required
- The mechanic will then test the installation, turning the wheel from lock to lock to ensure it’s functioning as expected
- An alignment will then be performed to ensure all the alignment angles are correct
How to Save Money on Rack and Pinion Replacement
Replacing the rack and pinion steering is often cheaper than rebuilding or repairing it, as it’s a time-intensive and complex task. The seals are difficult to position properly, and any damaged or misplaced seal will cause the rack to leak.
Because of this risk, and the time and cost involved, most mechanics will recommend replacing the rack rather than repairing.
To save money on the work, shop around for quotes from your local garages. This can be done in person, over the phone or even online, so it’s far easier than ever to get a list of prices to compare. Look for the best deal, but also make sure you go to a reputable garage – low quality work could end up costing more in the long term.
Sample Rack and Pinion Replacement Costs
Below are some sample costs for replacing rack and pinion steering for some of the most commonly owned cars in the country. These prices should be taken as a guide only, as the cost of the repair will vary from place to place and garage to garage.
|Ford F-Series||$142 – $181||$251 – $402||$393 – $583|
|Chevrolet Silverado||$157 – $201||$215 – $798||$372 – $999|
|Ford Focus||$189 – $241||$262 – $397||$451 – $638|
|Toyota Camry||$583 – $743||$410 – $904||$993 – $1647|
|Toyota Corolla||$472 – $603||$389 – $893||$861 – $1496|
|Nissan Altima||$220 – $281||$458 – $1049||$678 – $1330|
|Honda CR-V||$472v$603||$448 – $937||$920 – $1540|
|Honda Civic||$323 – $412||$366 – $523||$689 – $935|
|Honda Accord||$370 – $472||$365 – $594||$735 – $1066|
|Ford Fusion||$205 – $261||$671 – $841||$876 – $1102|