Here's the replacement procedure - it'll take you two-three hours the first
time, and (god help you) one the next:
Tips - buy and use latex gloves as this is a potentially messy job. use a
big pan, and a tarp or oil mat. Have a few towels and beer handy. Call your
- Jack the car and USE STANDS AND CHOCKS - your face will be at stake if
the car falls on you. I like my face how it is, and you should, too. As
with other phallic things, get it up as high as you can.
- Put your key in the ignition and unlock the steering wheel.
- Loosen the tie rod lock nuts just enough to unscrew the tie rod ends. No
need to "pull" them off.
- Completely unscrew the tie rods, but don't move your lock bolts - you
will want to reassemble where they were.
- Using a turkey baster (big opportunity for bad humor here, but trust me
on this) empty out the power steering reservoir well.
- Place a drip pan under there, and undo the TWO (just two) banjo bolts on
the rack's fluid power unit. There are four bolts. Only the two that go UP
into the car need to be removed. The other two are attached to the rack,
and will come out with the car. Fish the four brass washers out of the
fluid while saying something mean to them.
- Unbolt the two large bolts for the sway bar on the drivers' side, and
loosen the two on the passenger side. These are the bolts that bolt the
bar to the frame.
- Pull down on the bar a bit. If it doesn't give some, you will have to
REMOVE the other bolts. The reason I hesitate on removing them if you
don't have to is because of the challenge of re-aligning them to
- There is a cover plate under the rack - remove all the smaller nuts.
- Get out from under the car and get the oily sand out of your eyes and
mouth, wash hands and face, repeat.
- To remove the larger plate-bolts (4), you have your challenge: How do I
hold the tops of the bolts (! ?) You will either need a special tool of
some unknown description (cha-ching), or just use a small-medium allen
wrench kind of wedged in from above to keep the bolt-head from turning.
Sounds harder than it is.
- There is one more bolt way up and left. Easy enough to get to.
- Drop this cover, repeat step 10 above.
- Completely unbolt the "universal Joint" lock bolts. This is a
splined shaft and aluminum joint and may need some coaxing to undo. I just
used a fat daddy screwdriver to spread it out a bit, and a 15mm+ wrench
pushed into the gap between the joint and housing to pry it off. It would
have been easier if I could have loosened the top half of the joint from
the shaft, but. . . . . .(Note: it is impossible to completely
remove/install the joint onto the spline with the rack firmly in place.
Lower the rack a bit and pry some more)
- Drop the rack with the tie rod ends still attached. You may have to use
some finesse (more foul language) here to coax it out, but it'll come out.
- Clean the garage floor of all the power steering fluid you got
everywhere and apologize to your wife for the mess and your bad language.
- After removal, use one of those battery terminal brushes to clean out
the inside of the joint's (female) splines, and a little jet of ol' WD40.
Also, on your new rack, do the same on the splined part.
- Taking the little shafts off the rack is the worst part. Take the rack
to the corner service station where they have those HOSS metric open end
wrenches, or do this:
- Pull back the rubber boots from the rack toward the ends. There is a set
of grooves near the end of the rack that you hold, and UNSCREW the tie rod
portion from the rack. Grunt loudly, get ten bucks out of your wallet and
go back to step 18. If you injured yourself, get your hernia operation and
go back to step 18.
- If you bought a used or rebuilt rack, make sure that there is no more of
that wretched goo (old parts cleaner fluid) in the rack's plumbing. Stand
the rack on the ends and press down a few times. Expect the goo to spew,
so be prepared with a shop towel.
- Use loctite to reinstall this part.
- Note that there is a groove in the splined shaft on the rack. This is
where the joint's lock bolt passed-by. There is margin for error, but
align this as best you can upon assembly.
- Undocumented tip for anal-retentive (perfectionist) shark owners you do
not NEED to do this: Your rack has a little plastic thumb screw that comes
off with a twist. (that's what thumb screws do, I'm told) Once you have
your rack back in, at least have your universal joint bolted on, you can
perfectly align your steering wheel to the center of the rack. Have an
assistant turn the steering wheel slowly until the dimple, visible through
the thumb-screw hole is perfectly centered. Pull off the steering wheel,
and drop it back on, centered.
- The rest is basically "the reverse of removal."
- Use ATF, not power steering fluid. Follow your owner's manual
- Lower the car.
- Prime the pump ! Don't just fire it up ! (I'm serious) Fill the
reservoir and bump the starter three times. refill and run for three
seconds three times. Stop and refill. Start the car and turn lock to lock
three times slowly. Refill and let any bubbles settle. One more
lock-to-lock and the air should be gone.
- Get an alignment. Remember, not every shop can align your car. Don't let
them lift the car and decompress the struts. . .and don't let them tell
you that the caster/camber is not adjustable. Don't skimp here. Ask
another list member for local advice.
- Wash your towels and then wipe out the washing machine. The next time
you do laundry, you'll be very sorry if you don't. . .especially if it one
of your wife's new shirts was in the load (take my word for this, too)
- Send cash to Steve Peck >WINK< (firstname.lastname@example.org)