Your Toyota’s power steering rack might be just one part of a larger and more complicated mechanical system, but it is still essential. Without a functioning power steering rack, you wouldn’t be able to aim and manoeuvre the wheels using the steering wheel of your car. Therefore, it’s so important to pay attention to this device — check it, maintain it and make sure that any issues it faces are dealt with immediately. If you suspect that something might be wrong, you should always address this issue as soon as possible. The following blog will help you identify potential issues, as well as techniques for replacing power steering racks in Toyota vehicles.
What Is A Power Steering Rack?
A power steering rack is an essential part of the rack and pinion mechanism of a vehicle. It describes what is essentially a metal bar with grooves on the side and a tie rod on the end. The metal bar sits parallel to the front axle and moves left and right as the steering wheel is turned. The tie rod connects to the kingpin, and movement from this kingpin directs the wheels when they turn. The steering rack’s grooves come into contact with the pinion gear, which is attached to the steering wheel via linkages. This pinion has small teeth that blend into the main rack shaft. The steering rack component transmits the steering wheel rotation inside of the car to the linear movement outside of the car. In tandem with the pinion, the rack rotates the wheels of the car as the driver turns the steering wheel.
The rack and pinion mechanism makes driving and directing your car much easier and allows you to have more control over the wheels’ direction when they turn. While this mechanism has fewer moving parts than larger conventional steering systems, it is nonetheless highly effective. The rack and pinion mechanism can operate with or without power steering, and it is the most common type of steering system found today. It exists in most cars and some small SUVs.
What Causes Power Steering Racks To Wear Out?
Usually, power steering racks wear out as a result of fluid contamination. It only takes a small leak or one incident of contamination to deteriorate your steering pump, and you will suddenly have reduced steering ability. Eventually, these conditions will stop you from being able to steer your car at all.
Power steering racks can also become damaged as a result of general wear and tear, or as the consequence of an accident. If you were involved in a car crash — even a minor one — it is important that you have your vehicle checked for issues including damage to your steering rack.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Worn-Out Steering Rack I Should Look Out For?
Since the power steering rack is so crucial, it is important that you replace it as soon as it stops functioning as it should. The easiest way to ensure you stay tuned into your steering rack is by learning the warning signs that something is wrong. There are many things you can look out for that indicate an issue.
You Have Difficulty Turning The Wheel
The power steering rack uses hydraulic pressure to allow quick and easy steering and wheel handling. If the steering wheel becomes difficult to turn, something is certainly wrong. Usually, this happens when the steering rack or gearbox builds up more heat than it should, or when there is a decrease in hydraulic pressure from the power steering unit. Sometimes, the solution to this issue is as simple as adding some fluid or making a minor adjustment. Other times, the mechanism needs replacing. Either way, it is best to get your car inspected immediately.
The Steering Fluid Is Leaking
If the power steering rack’s fluid levels have declined, there will be a leak somewhere in the system. This is probably the result of a loose-fitting or broken gasket. Keep an eye out for red or pink liquid leaking from the back part of your motor. If you have a jack, jack stands or a ramp, you can also check your system directly for leaks by inspecting the hoses, connections and seals.
You Smell Burning Oil When You Drive
The smell of burning oil is an indication that a leak is occurring. Power steering fluid smells of burnt oil, so that strong aroma will be present when the gearbox is overheated. Driving with an overheated gearbox can have dangerous results, including fire. Therefore, it’s so important to pull over, stop the car and call a mechanic immediately after you notice this smell.
You Hear A Crunching Noise While Steering
Between a lack of liquid and an overheated gearbox, a failing power steering rack will experience a lot of metal-to-metal contact. This contact produces a loud grinding noise when you manoeuvre left or right, and an even louder noise when you turn and hit a bump at the same time.
How Do I Replace A Power Steering Rack On A Toyota?
Replacing your Toyota’s power steering rack might seem like an intimidating task, but it’s a straightforward process. Simply follow these steps:
1. Grab Everything You’ll Need For A Quick & Easy Job
To replace your power steering rack, you’ll need a jack, jack stands, power steering fluid, a brake line wrench set, a ratchet and socket set, and, of course, your new steering rack.
2. Secure Your Car & Lift It
In order to replace your power steering rack, you’ll need to crawl underneath your vehicle, and there are several safety measures to go through before you do this. Make sure your car is properly secured, that your wheels are straight and that your steering wheel is locked before you begin work on the rack itself. Then lift and secure your car using the jack and jack stands.
3. Loosen Bolts & Power Steering Lines
Using a wrench, remove the tie rod ends from the steering knuckles. Once you have loosened the bolts and attachments, it is time to locate your power steering lines. These will probably be connected to the rack with the brake line wrenches. These lines carry a lot of pressure, so you’ll need to crack them first before you loosen them.
4. Remove Your Old & Damaged Steering Rack
Ensuring that the rack is fully supported by your hand or an extra set of jack stands, remove the bolts from the steering rack and pull it off from the column.
5. Pop In Your New Power Steering Rack
It is now time to install your new power steering rack. Centre the rack before you place it into position, and then reassemble all the other parts that were removed or taken apart. You can essentially follow Step 3 in the reverse order.
6. Check Your Work To Ensure Everything Is Working As It Should
Check that everything is in place and secure and then test your installation job. To do this, unlock the steering wheel while the car is still lifted and turn the wheels from side to side. Repeat this action 10 times. This process will tell you if your installation was a success, and additionally, it will help work the air out of the power steering system. Once this step has been completed successfully, you should be good to go!
Wondering Where To Buy Quality Power Steering Racks For Your Toyota?
The power steering rack is a crucial component of your vehicle. When it ceases to function as it should, it will make steering extremely bothersome, difficult, or even impossible. What’s more concerning than this, however, is the danger that a faulty power steering rack can pose to both you and your car. Therefore, it is so important to inspect your car as soon as you suspect that the power steering rack might be damaged or worn. Once you have diagnosed the problem, you should go about fixing or replacing the component.
If you need a replacement power steering rack for your Toyota in a hurry, visit a trusted Aussie brand like Machter. They manufacture and import automotive parts of the highest quality at affordable prices and distribute aftermarket parts around the world. As a passionate and supportive team of automotive specialists, they want to help you make your car the best vehicle it can be. Shop their online store today for first-rate Toyota steering rack and more.