It is the system that connects your steering wheel to the front wheels of the car. It allows you to turn the wheels left and right. When you turn the steering wheel, it rotates a pinion gear which causes the steering rack to move. The power steering pump helps you with the right and left movement otherwise turning your wheels will be much more difficult as it used to be in older cars without power steering. Some newer car utilize electrical power steering instead of hydraulic power steering setup. In other words the steering rack converters the steering wheel revolutions to left and right movement of the steering rack which turn the wheel of the car.
Symptoms of Bad steering:
One of the most common symptoms of a bad power steering rack is that the steering feels loose and has excessive play.
When the power steering rack and pinion wear out you may notice other symptoms such as the wheels do not straighten out after a turn.
1. Loose steering
2. Steering wheel shakes
3. Clunking noise
4. Wheel doesn't return to center
5. Excess Slack
6. Looseness in the steering wheel
7. Steering wheel not returning to center after a turn
How to test steering rack:
You may be wondering how to tell if rack and pinion is bad and needs replacing. There is an easy way to check for signs of bad steering rack. Check for play of the steering wheel. If the steering rack is worn out
you will notice the excessive play of the steering wheel. Meaning you can move the steering wheel but the
wheels don't move.
Tie rods may be the cause that you have an excessive play on your steering wheel. Tie rods are directly
connected to the power steering rack. They actually wear quite frequently and often need to be replaced
around the 75,000-100,000 mile range. Cars have inner tie rods and outer tie rods. Check both of them for
excessive wear. Often you will find that the outer tie rods have become worn. It is common for owners to
think that they have a bad steering rack when in reality the tie rods are the problem.
Power Steering Pump:
If you are having problems with the steering wheel not returning to center, the problem could be a bad
power steering pump. Generally, power steering pump is not generating enough pressure. This can get
tricky to diagnose because poor alignment or worn steering components will exhibit similar symptoms.