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Opinions on replacing/repairing '06 Sierra rack and pinion.


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Hoping to get opinions on whether or not it is worth it for me to do the job myself, and if replacing the entire rack is necessary. My original and extended warranty are both over with, and I have more time than money, like a lot of people these days, but some things just aren't worth doing yourself. I'm pretty mechanically inclined, and have done some work on cars, and this doesn't seem out of my league, but doesn't look like a 2 hour job either.

 

It was replaced once already, at 25,000 miles, under my extended warranty. There was fluid coming out of the boots on both sides, and they were saturated, and the dealer just replaced the entire rack, with a re manufactured one. I guess that's standard.

 

Anyway, now I'm at about 34,000 miles, and I just got new tires at Les Schwab, and took the truck back yesterday for an alignment, and they pointed out that there was some play in the rack and pinion bushings, and that there is a little bit of fluid coming out, and that it's just starting to leak, so it might be a waste of time to align it right now, especially if it doesn't have any pulling or anything, which it doesn't. I don't get how they saw play in any of the bushings, but I don't know a lot about that. I did see a tiny bit of fluid on one boot, and the other had a "dent", if you will, in one of the high points of the boot, and a very tiny cut, and there was fluid there as well. It look as though maybe a rock bounced up and hit the boot. Correct me if I'm wrong...but that is just a dust boot, and any fluid at all, simply shouldn't be there, correct?

 

Anyway, they didn't align it, and I guess that's ok for right now, especially since it doesn't pull, or show any real obvious sign of being out of alignment. The guy said they don't replace the bushings, just the entire rack. Not sure if that is the standard. He also said I didn't have to pull it out right away, but to keep an eye on it, and that I might start getting play in the steering wheel. He said I should hang on to the alignment money, wait until this gets worse, and replace it, and they would align it then anyway.

 

Now, it's only been about 9,000 miles since the rack was replaced, and it is past it's warranty. I asked him how it could be going out so soon, and I did tell him that I now drive on a lot of dirt/gravel/washboard/crappy roads for my satellite installation work, and said that is most likely the cause. Something has to give when you drive those roads, but it does seem soon.

 

All this being said, if I do indeed need to replace the rack, I'm considering doing it myself, and wondering if I could simply follow a Chilton's of Haynes manual for my truck, and do it in a day. If anyone has done one themselves, and can offer any opinions or advice, I'd greatly appreciate it!

 

Also curious about how necessary it is to replace the entire rack.

 

Thanks in advance!

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9,000 since being installed is ridiculous, regardless of driving conditions. I did it myself on a Tacoma. I can't remember what it cost, but I got a remanufactured rack from autozone. Again, not a Chevy, but it took me the majority of the day because of the tight spaces trying to free it up, everything on that truck was rusted underneath from being driven in NY for a few years, and the fluid lines didn't want to come off it either. I had about 120,000 on the original rack, with a decent amount being driven offroad. What gave out on mine was the pinion oil seal. The 'new' rack felt a lot tighter than the old one once it was installed too. Like most mechanical things, if you can follow through a manual and have a basic set of tools, you can do the job. I'd recommend getting a remanufactured rack from your local parts place.

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9,000 since being installed is ridiculous, regardless of driving conditions.

Yeah, it's kind of pissing me off now. I have 34,000 on the truck now, and the second rack is starting to leak. I don't get it. Yeah, I have the tools, and figure if I do, to kiss an entire day goodbye.

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I would get someone to put a line pressure gauge on the rack. There is no reason your first rack should have gone out at 25k and certainly no reason the new one with 9k on it should be leaking already. It sounds to me like the relief valve in the pump is not functioning properly and is allowing the rack to be over-pressured.

 

Just my $.02

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I would get someone to put a line pressure gauge on the rack. There is no reason your first rack should have gone out at 25k and certainly no reason the new one with 9k on it should be leaking already. It sounds to me like the relief valve in the pump is not functioning properly and is allowing the rack to be over-pressured.

 

Just my $.02

Thanks.

I will pass that along to someone, and check that out. It is ridiculous how quickly this is happening. You're referring to the power steering pump when you say "relief valve in the pump", yes? Just making sure. If so, does that mean replacement of the power steering pump, or is that something that can be fixed?

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Yes I am referring to the power steering pump. I'm not sure if the relief valve is serviceable on that pump. It may require pump replacement if that is in fact the problem.

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Yes I am referring to the power steering pump. I'm not sure if the relief valve is serviceable on that pump. It may require pump replacement if that is in fact the problem.

Is putting a line pressure gauge on the pump something that someone like Les Schwab should be able to do? I only ask that because there is a limit to what they're good at, and my extended warranty ended at the end of 2012, so I haven't had a regular mechanic in a while. Either nothing was wrong, or it went to the dealer.

 

What are the odds of it being the relief valve? Probably better than the odds that it's just good old fashioned bad luck, I'm assuming.

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It isn't a common problem at all but that's the only reason I can think of that you would have 2 racks leaking within 10k miles.

Any shop should be able to put a pressure gauge on it.

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It isn't a common problem at all but that's the only reason I can think of that you would have 2 racks leaking within 10k miles.

Any shop should be able to put a pressure gauge on it.

Ok cool....your opinion much appreciated. It is weird that this one is leaking so soon.. Well, one boot has a slight little cut in it from a rock or something, and there is some fluid right at the tear, and my understanding is that there should be absolutely none in that boot. On the other side, the clamp closest to the rack is kind of "wet", which I'm assuming is power steering fluid. Power steering fluid has a very disticnt smell, and there isn't a nice "drop" getting ready to drip off, that I can make a concrete diagnosis from, but it does appear that they might have just started to weep. The guy said it's hard to see in there if you slide the boot back, don't know how true that is. That one clamp looks tricky to get off, don't even know if it's designed to come off easily.

 

 

They did show me the play in the bushings, and not being a mechanic, or what exactly is too much, I have to trust them.

 

Would there be any other signs of the relief valve not working properly?

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You are correct. There should be no fluid in the boot. Period.

 

Theoretically excess pressure could cause the bushings to start to walk out of the bores they are pressed into.

 

You have to cut those clamps off and replace them. They are not reusable and there is a special tool to install them.

 

As for other signs...if you turn the steering wheel to full lock with the engine running does it act like the engine is going to stall?

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You are correct. There should be no fluid in the boot. Period.

 

Theoretically excess pressure could cause the bushings to start to walk out of the bores they are pressed into.

 

You have to cut those clamps off and replace them. They are not reusable and there is a special tool to install them.

 

As for other signs...if you turn the steering wheel to full lock with the engine running does it act like the engine is going to stall?

Well, there is some fluid in one boot, as a tiny bit came out near the little cut in the boot. And I mean a tiny but, but there shouldn't be any.

 

And to be clear, the bushings they were showing me that have too much play in them, are the bushings that are where the rack actually bolts to the car. They had it in a bay where there was a pit under the car, and they had a guy in the truck, started it, and turned the steering wheel from side to side, and they showed me the play in those bushings. They said some is normal, but mine has too much. I have no idea, so I have to believe them. Are those the same bushings you are referring to? I'm thinking they're not, because no power steering fluid comes into contact with those. You must be referring to some bushing inside the rack itself.

 

Part of me wants to think they're bullshitting me, but they could have easily aligned it, and then told me that I need to keep an eye on my rack and pinion, and that's showing signs of leaking.

I guess they saw the one boot with fluid, and that prompted them to do the test with the steering wheel and watch the bushings. The guy even said "I'd drive it a while and keep an eye on it, don't dump money in it right away".....so I didn't get the impression they were simply trying to stack up repairs. I did just spend a grand on tires on Saturday though. I just always have my gurad up with places like this, when I don't have any trust buily up.

 

Oh, I went outside after I read your question about the steering. Started the truck, cranked the wheel all the way, both directions, and held it there, and it didn't act like the engine was going to stall.....nothing even remotely like that. When it's cranked all the way, it does make a sound that maybe sounds like water running, like when someone turns water on outside, and you're in the house....or maybe like air coming out of a compressor....but not super loud. Just trying to describe it accurately, but it's a familiar sound that I think it always makes when the wheel is absolutely cranked all the way, and that I think most cars make. I think you know what I'm saying. I think all power steering pumps change tone when maxed out. Anyway, did that test several times, even did a turn around in the street with it cranked all the way....nothing like the engine might die.

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