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Rack & Pinion Inspection and Boot Replacement


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You can read this, or visit the web page that I created at: http://scarab.240z.org/tips/tips_rack.htm

The steering rack & pinion assembly unit is a pretty basic little setup. It consists of a small gear pushing a large bar left to right. The ends of the large bar are connected to your front wheels. This turning motion make the car turn left to right. Pretty simple explanation, eh? Well, that's how it works. Basics, get back to basics. If you figure this out, you'll be in for a nice life.

Anyway, I wanted to share my experiences while looking at this little beauty. Why can't everyone benefit from my experience? It's also a nice way for me to look back at all the work I've done and say, "Whew! It's done!"

The entire rack assembly mounts to the front mount bar. This is the same bar that the engine sits on top of. Therefore, engine removal is desirable, but, not required. Of course, I have all the correct tools to remove my engine in a few hours while the standard garage mechanic may not have this luxury. Well, I may not consider it a luxury. Anyway............. my apologies if some of this may be out of your field. The information isn't intended to be easy to perform.

I did not perform a total rebuild on my rack assembly. I decided to cut it short of removing the gear mechanisms and tie rod knuckles. These suckers are $800 to rebuild for a reason! I cleaned the entire unit and tore just about everything else out of it.

Okay, here we go. The parts that I used are:

New steering rack boots.

New polyurethane rack bushing mounts.

New steering rack oil seal.


New grease reservoir (from Nissan).

With all of these parts in hand, and a previously removed steering rack assembly, I began my journey.

Remove the old bushings. Use a screwdriver, knife, or whatever tool you need to pry the old bushings from the rack.

Remove the old rack boots. You can probably do this with a knife or some scissors.

Use a rag to clean up as much grease as you can.

Clean up the outside of the rack assembly with a good degreaser. Remember, there is probably 20 years of grime on that thing! Just be careful not to get any chemicals into the rack internal components.

Use a screwdriver and pry off the oil seal around the turning gear mount. This is the mount that the steering wheel arm connects to. Use extreme care not to bend the top of the seal. You might want to re-use it depending on its condition.

Use a rag and clean out all of the grease you can inside the bearing housing.

Now, take a some large pliers and loosen the locking nut (the large one) that sits around the slotted tension adjuster.

Remove the locking nut.

Remove the tension adjuster.

SLOWLY remove the tension piston.

Clean up the inside chamber and the piston workings. Be sure to keep the spring and washer positions noted. You can do this by just stacking them off to the side.

You should be able to see the end of the zirk fitting and the bottom side of the rack inside the gear housing now.

Clean it all up. Try to get a lot of the old grease out of there.

Now take your grease gun and squirt some grease into the housing through the zirk. You should see the grease pumping in through the fitting. Be sure to fill the gear housing full of grease before you start the next step.

Replace the tension piston by covering it with grease before you slide it into place.

Make sure you put it all back together the way you found it. :-)

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  • 5 years later...

Use a screwdriver and pry off the oil seal around the turning gear mount. This is the mount that the steering wheel arm connects to. Use extreme care not to bend the top of the seal. You might want to re-use it depending on its condition.

I'd say be REALLY careful. I am getting ready to do this, and I checked on the availability of this seal before I started, since I generally replace all oil and grease seals as just a matter of course. According to my local Nissan dealer, Nissan has none. He located a total of three of these seals in stock at two different Nissan dealers, and I just bought two of them. There are probably others in the hands of various parts dealers, but you won't be able to just wander down to your local Nissan dealer and pick one up. :cry:

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