Rack and Pinion
What is the Rack and Pinion?
Practically all vehicles have a power steering system, and most passenger vehicles on the road today use rack-and-pinion steering gear to convert steering wheel effort to turning wheels. We refer to “rack and pinion” to differentiate it from older vehicles and some trucks, which still use older recirculating-ball steering gear technology.
Why is the Rack and Pinion Important?
Without the rack and pinion, you wouldn’t be able to steer your vehicle, making it one of the more critical components on your car. When you turn the steering wheel, the steering shaft turns a small gear, the “pinion” gear, inside the steering gear assembly. The pinion gear is meshed with a straight “rack” gear, which is connected to the steering knuckles via tie rods. Turning the pinion gear forces the rack gear left or right, moving the wheels left or right.
On hydraulic power steering systems, the power steering pump provides up to 1,600 psi of hydraulic force to assist steering at low speeds, such as during parking maneuvers. Electric power steering systems use electric motors to assist the driver in a similar way.
What can Dobbs Tire & Auto Centers Do for You?
The rack and pinion gear system itself is robust, and isn’t usually prone to failure, but the seals at the ends of the rack can often be problematic, leading to hydraulic leaks or water incursion. Bushing or pinion wear can lead to a loose feeling in the steering wheel, as gear clearances increase. Hydraulic leaks, internal or external, may lead to a loss of power steering. On electric power steering systems water incursion causes corrosion and short-circuits.
Rack and pinion problems can manifest themselves in a couple of ways. A “loose” steering wheel or wandering on the highway may indicate bushing or pinion wear. A “whining” power steering pump may indicate low power steering fluid level because of a leaking seal. Warning lights or excessive steering effort might indicate problems with an electric power steering unit.
If you are experiencing any of these problems, talk with the rack and pinion experts at Dobbs Tire & Auto Centers. Whether your vehicle uses hydraulic or electric power steering, we have the tools and training to get your steering system working properly, whether it needs adjustment, repair, or replacement.
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