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Steering rack loose on EA81


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15 replies to this topic

#1 CornerHard

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 05:41 PM

It appears my steering rack is loose on my EA81, and I'm curious how to go about servicing it or if I need to replace it. Here are the symptoms:

- The car likes to wander on the highway, and there's a dead zone in the middle of the steering travel where you can wiggle the steering wheel back and forth but almost nothing happens

- If I jack the front end of the car up, I can wiggle the front wheels left and right a little bit with my hands. If you look at the steering components while doing this, it appears the problem is somewhere past the tie rod boot.

- The visible portions of the tie rods appear just fine, and move perfectly with the wheels

- The steering u-joint under the hood appears old, but fine if I wiggle the steering wheel back and forth while looking at it

- If I wiggle the steering wheel back and forth with the car parked, I can hear a slight "clunk, clunk" from the steering rack area

- The power steering fluid looks normal and does not leak

I've never replaced or serviced a steering rack before, so all information is useful.

Thanks!

#2 CornerHard

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 05:47 PM

Also, looking up steering racks in junkyards online requires me to specify whether my GL is 3/83 and earlier or 4/83 and later. How do I tell which I have? Are they incompatible?

#3 GeneralDisorder

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 06:08 PM

It's not your rack - it's your inner tie rod joints. The whole tie rod unscrews from the rack. Pull back the boot and you'll see.

try www.rockauto.com for the tie rods. They usually have good prices.

GD

#4 daeron

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 10:42 PM

Also, looking up steering racks in junkyards online requires me to specify whether my GL is 3/83 and earlier or 4/83 and later. How do I tell which I have? Are they incompatible?


All I can answer is how to tell when your car was manufactured.

Look at the VIN plate in the doorjamb area. It should say there.

Oh, and GD is prbably right.. Do these steering racks have bushings on the mounting points? because I have had steering rack bushings go bad before, and it exhibited the exact same symptoms.. If the inner tie rod end is also not the culprit, chances are thats where you need to look.. find the mounting points and watch them as you jiggle the wheel back and forth while parked.

#5 CornerHard

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Posted 22 January 2007 - 05:45 PM

How do you get the tie rod boots off without cutting them? Is there some trick? The inside portion of the tie rod seems too large to slide the rubber boot over. Sorry, I'm new to steering rack/tie rod work :confused: It appears the front driver's side is the side that has the main problem. How do I tell if the steering rack itself has an issue?

#6 GeneralDisorder

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Posted 22 January 2007 - 05:50 PM

How do you get the tie rod boots off without cutting them? Is there some trick? The inside portion of the tie rod seems too large to slide the rubber boot over.


The boot slips off when you unscrew the tie rod end.

Sorry, I'm new to steering rack/tie rod work :confused: It appears the front driver's side is the side that has the main problem. How do I tell if the steering rack itself has an issue?


It's not - they never wear out.

GD

#7 BlueSteel

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Posted 22 January 2007 - 10:00 PM

could even be the steering rack mountiung bolts that are loose... this will make the car wander everywhere

#8 Bishop

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Posted 27 January 2007 - 06:46 PM

http://www.partsamer...type=81&ptset=A

is what you need. They are the same for either side, and they are fairly easy to change.

#9 CornerHard

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Posted 08 February 2007 - 01:26 AM

The boot slips off when you unscrew the tie rod end.



It's not - they never wear out.

GD



It looks like I may be the exception to the rule. :-\ I took the boot off, and the tie rod end looks just fine. However, if I move the front driver's side wheel left and right, the rack itself moves vertically up and down, allowing the tie rod to move a bit in and out. Is there anything serviceable in the steering rack, or am I stuck spending $250 for a new one?

To clarify, this is the interior rack of the steering system. The out housing you can see without taking anything off looks fine.

#10 GeneralDisorder

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Posted 08 February 2007 - 02:19 AM

Hhhmmm - can you take a video of it? I'm not totally sure what you are describing.

GD

#11 baccaruda

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Posted 08 February 2007 - 02:30 AM

OK, your rack is "clamped" to the bottom of the crossmember by two brackets. It may be that one is round and one is square.
Anyway, those brackets have a rubber cushion/liner between them and the rack. Those rubber parts are probably worn. (Check the bolts securing the brackets as well)
I would suggest new rubber from the dealer rather than replacing an old pair with another old pair. Good luck!

#12 naru

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Posted 08 February 2007 - 01:36 PM

It looks like I may be the exception to the rule. :-\ I took the boot off, and the tie rod end looks just fine. However, if I move the front driver's side wheel left and right, the rack itself moves vertically up and down, allowing the tie rod to move a bit in and out. Is there anything serviceable in the steering rack, or am I stuck spending $250 for a new one?

To clarify, this is the interior rack of the steering system. The out housing you can see without taking anything off looks fine.


You are no exception.Wear here is very common.Subaru says the internal bushings are unservicable,but,rebuilt ones are available so someone has a solution.

Get a better indication of play by extending the rack from the housing and moving it rather than the tire.FSM calls for .006 inch clearance on a power rack.

#13 CornerHard

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Posted 11 February 2007 - 07:39 PM

Hhhmmm - can you take a video of it? I'm not totally sure what you are describing.

GD


Posted Image

The blue part is what is moving up and down.

So it sounds like my options are to try disassembling my steering rack somehow and replacing the bearings, or just getting another one.

#14 GeneralDisorder

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Posted 12 February 2007 - 12:48 AM

If it's a power rack and it's loose like that, you should be seeing a lot of fluid leakage. There's nothing in the rack that you are going to be able to rebuild or replace easily, so if it really is loose at the point you describe then it's time for another rack. I tore down the one on my wagon with 160,000 on it, and there was no looseness in the rack itself. And the dealership I frequent has mentioned they almost never see racks or pumps fail. I would be looking for what might have caused this, as it's certainly not typical till well after the rest of the car generally falls apart around 300,000+.

GD

#15 CornerHard

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Posted 12 February 2007 - 01:40 PM

If it's a power rack and it's loose like that, you should be seeing a lot of fluid leakage. There's nothing in the rack that you are going to be able to rebuild or replace easily, so if it really is loose at the point you describe then it's time for another rack. I tore down the one on my wagon with 160,000 on it, and there was no looseness in the rack itself. And the dealership I frequent has mentioned they almost never see racks or pumps fail. I would be looking for what might have caused this, as it's certainly not typical till well after the rest of the car generally falls apart around 300,000+.

GD



Hmm, I haven't seen any fluid leakage, and I've checked the PS fluid regularly. My car has 270k miles on it, so I wouldn't be surprised if the rack is just expired :)

#16 baccaruda

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Posted 13 February 2007 - 03:16 AM

did you check the rubber insulator things I described? If they wear, they'll allow quite a bit of wobble.




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