The steering rack system utilized in many modern vehicles is a rack and pinion steering system. The rack is a bar parallel to the front axle that moves left or right when the steering wheel is turned, aiming the front wheels in the correct direction. The pinion is a small gear at the end of the vehicle’s steering column that engages the rack.

The rack and pinion gear set has two main functions:

1. Conversion of the steering wheel’s rotational motion into the linear motion needed for the vehicle’s wheels to turn. 2. Reduction of gears, which makes it easier for the steering wheel to turn the wheels.

The steering rack and pinion is comprised of multiple components including the universal joints, main and intermediate shafts, and at the centre is the steering rack or gearbox. It is this central unit that receives input form the driver, by way of steering wheel and steering column and sends a mechanical signal to tie rods and steering shafts to complete smooth and efficient left and right turns.

But, however, from time to time, the steering rack or gearbox will wear out.

The steering rack is essentially the heart of the steering system. When it wears out or break the ability to steer your vehicle is compromised. When it happens while you drive, it can be extremely dangerous.

The two main reasons why steering racks fail are fluid contamination and steering pump wear. A small leak or contaminated fluid can cause your rack or steering to deteriorate leading to reduced steering ability and a possible failure leading to no steering at all.

Symptoms of a bad steering rack:
1. Very tight steering wheel- When the steering wheels feels tight or is harder to turn than usual, it’s due to the steering rack or gearbox building up more heat or a loss of hydraulic pressure from the power steering unit.

2. Leaking power steering fluid- The leakage of power steering oil can be caused by a loose fitting, broken gasket, or other mechanical issues. The gearbox or steering rack will develop excess heat, potentially breaking gears and other components. The leakage of power steering oil can be distinguished from other fluids by its smell, a typical burning oil smell. It is also pink or red in color and will be dripping form the back part of your vehicle.

3. Grinding noises when steering- A bad or failing gearbox is typically caused by a lack of lubrication and service. The excess heat causes metal-on-metal contact and thus creates a loud grinding noise when you turn the wheels. This sounds are caused by a lack of lubrication.

Whenever you experience these symptoms, it is necessary to immediately visit your trusted VW & Audi Specialists at V.A.G Spec Centre.

steering rack
Steering Rack

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