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Subject Steering Rack Rebuild - my attempt at a How-To Guide
     
Posted by evan_aggie on May 22, 2011 at 9:14 PM
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Message I've read a few posts about rebuilding the steering rack, but nothing with any helpful pictures. While it isn't that difficult once you get everything apart, I wanted to mention and show a few things that should hopefully make everything go more smoothly.

************ RACK AND PINION SEAL KIT **********


EDELMANN Part # 8737
Power Steering Repair Kit - $42


***************** DISASSEMBLY ******************

There is plenty of info about removing the outer tie rod from the knuckle assembly, so I won't discuss that.

*** END COVER ***

Before taking the entire rack off of the car, I removed some of the staking on the end cover which prevents you from unscrewing it. I did this because I wanted to take the end-cover off while the rack was still bolted down as I do not have a bench-vise to hold is stationary. The FSM says to use a drill to remove the staking. By the way, what this means is: The aluminum shell is punched down, which will prevent you from taking the end cover off; consider it similar to the tie rod lock plate staking. Anyway, the FSM says to use a 2mm drill bit. I did this, and it was a pain. I had to drill twice and at angles to get enough of it removed. In the future, I'd probably recommend using a dremel with a small disc cutter. I used a big adjustable pipe wrench on the end cover, and it came loose. As I turned the end cover, I noticed that little slivers of metal were coming out with the end cover cap. I hadn't removed every bit of staking, and unscrewing the end cover sliced through some of the housing leaving little curled flakes of aluminum. You can also see where I drilled a bit of the end cover. Oh well.

*** TIE ROD LOCK PLATES ***

Once the end cover was off (passenger side), I removed the entire rack with the tie rod ends (inner and outer) still attached. I'm not 100% sure how everyone is supposed to remove the inner tie rod lock plates, but I pryed up each side, and then used two wrenches to unscrew the inner tie rod. After each was removed, I just knocked the lock plates off the steering rack assembly.


*** RACK AND PINION GEARING ***

Remove the pinion gear. This should be straightforward. Remove the spring/tensioner.

Technically, you could do this without removing the pinion gear or the tensioner, but I'd recommend taking them off first. Now you will be able to begin removing the two main seals from within the housing.


*** PASSENGER RACK SEAL ***

Remove the end cover completely if not already. You need to use the stationary portion of the rack assembly, which sits in between each seal, to force the end seal out. I did a number of things to help.

1) Silicone Lubricant on the seal.

2) Used a heat gun around the housing where the seal sits.

3) Most importantly, I inserted a short 6" 1/2 PVC pipe stub into the rack from the driver side. When the stationary part makes contact with the passenger side seal, you can turn it to stand vertically on the 1/2 PVC pipe. This allowed me to use my weight to press out the passenger side end seal. It took me quite a bit of force, but it eventually started to slide out. I was hesitant to hammer on the pipe stub with it laying down because I feared that'd cause damager to end or something inside.

Here is a simple diagram:

*** MAIN ROD ***

The rod should simply slide out at this point. The only thing keeping the rod from sliding out is the end cover and oil seal.

*** DRIVER RACK SEAL ***

Now for the driver side seal, the FSM mentions using a 26MM socket with extensions. I did the same thing, but used a 21mm socket as it was the appropriate size. I turned the housing on its end, and inserted the 21mm socket with extensions from above. I carefully slid it into position against the metal rack bushing. Hammering against this will push it out. I had a new metal bushing, so I wasn't too concerned about putting metal imprints of the socket into the side of the bushing, but it probably would still be fine to reuse. I used a 3 lb hammer and gave the metal bushing a few good knocks. I could tell the seal started to move and from that point forward it just took repeated knocks (and additional extensions) to finish pushing out the driver side seal. Sorry I don't have images of that exact step.

The two major seals should be removed now.

*** PINION SEALS ***

If you haven't already, pop out the two seals that go into the rack. There is a thin seal on the outside, and then a thicker one sitting down in the housing. I used a screw driver and carefully popped it out.

There is a seal on the rear/top of the pinion gear housing. It has a set of racer bearings pushed in under it. It attempted to remove this but it didn't want to budge and I was too paranoid about doing irreversible damage. Another housing piece was $88 from Nissan. Plus, the exploded view didn't show the bearings as a separate part number anyway.

*** TEFLON SEALS ***

There are 6 teflon seals on the pinion gear, and 1 on the rack assembly. I didn't replace these. Part of me was worried that I'd also goof that up. From what I read, it helps to heat them to 100F, and slip them on. I guess they become more pliable. Another reason I left these alone is that I had read it is rare they go bad.

******************** ASSEMBLY *********************


Of course, it should go without saying, clean everything really well.


*** DRIVER RACK SEAL ***

Place a piece of painters tape or something thin over the rack teeth. Lubricate the rod with some ATF. Slide the seal over the teeth with the flat side facing in, which will be towards the other seal. Then, slide the metal bushing over the teeth and against the seal as well.

]


Once that is complete, place the rod back into the housing. Now, here is the catch: the rod will go in a bit, but will eventually get held up with the tension on the sale. At this point, you really need to knock the rod into the housing.

I used two blocks of wood. One for the rod to sit on so that it wouldn't hit my hard concrete floor. The other went onto the housing which I proceed to hammer. I had my wife take a staged "action shot". =) Anyway, a few knocks and the rod pushed the seal all the way into the housing until the metal bushing made contact with the smaller inner diameter.


*** PASSENGER RACK SEAL ***

This is straight forward. Put some ATF around the seal and place it in the housing with your fingers. You should be able to push it far enough end that you can start threading the end cover which will put the seal in place.


*** PINION SEALS ***

These are also simple. If you haven't already, just put some moly grease around the sale and pop them into place. The larger one (thin ring) tends to pop up a bit. The old one I took out was nearly flat.


Reverse the remaining steps and you should be good to go.

     
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