Replacing steering rack/rack & pinion

Written by Jeremy Flowers, Member 1932
Applies to the following vehicles: W-body (GP and Regal) possibly more
Created 12/7/2003

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I thought I'd write up a little how-to on replacing your steering rack yourself. There wasn't much to go on here in the forum. I did get some good info from ydtrack, thanks.

Here is what I did.

  1. Jack up the car (making sure the jack stands are on the inner part of the front cradle)
  2. Remove wheels
  3. Disconnect tie rod ends from control arm (either 15 or 18mm)
  4. Disconnect Magnasteer controller.
  5. Remove front sway bar. (13mm at control arm/15mm at cradle)
  6. Drop rear cradle. I was told to have something to support it but it didn't move TOO much on me. (not sure.....18mm maybe)
  7. Should have access to the bolts holding rack to cradle. Remove two bolts holding rack to cradle. (18mm)
  8. Use flare nut wrench (18mm) for getting the hydraulic lines off of the rack. I went and bought one from Autozone for $5, it's a 18mm/16mm combo.
  9. Scoot the boot that holds the column gear into the firewall so you can see the bolt you need to access. Unbolt the gear from the rack itself. (11mm)
  10. Once you have the gear disconnected you should be able to pull the rack out of the car. The passenger side of the rack uses rubber washers that hold it tight. You may have to pry on it a bit to get it ouf of the holder (cradle).

    I have a 97 GS and I bought a rack from a 98 Intrigue. I pulled out the column gear thinking I was going to replace it with the one from the Intrigue. When I got it out it looked completely different from the Intrigues. The gear from the GS fit on the Intrigue rack so it was fine. I just wish I wouldn't have pulled the gear form the column part cause it was a PITA to put back in. Just something to think about when you're replacing the rack.

  11. Put new rack in from the drivers side. Made it easier. I did it with no help but having another person there to guide it from the passenger side would have been easier.
  12. Attach rack to the cradle. (18mm)
  13. Attach hydro lines to new rack (18mm)
  14. Get the cradle bolts started. This makes sure that the gear won't fall off the column rod when you bolt the gear to the rack.
  15. Attach gear to rack. You'll need to have someone put the car on ACC and turn the wheel back and forth until you find the keyed spot. It wasn't too bad. (11mm)
  16. Once the gear is on, pull the rubber tubing back over new gear and rack assembly.
  17. Tighten cradle bolts down. (not sure.....)
  18. Attach tie rod ends to control arms.(15 or 18mm)
  19. Put sway bar back on car. (13mm control arm/15mm cradle side)
  20. Plug magnasteer controller back in.
  21. Take off steering fluid cap. Put car on ACC and turn wheel full left to right. Put fluid in and repeat. Check fluid level again and repeat if necessary.
  22. Put wheels back on car
  23. Un jack car and take it for a gingerly test drive.
I noticed a difference immediately. It was like a new car. It did take a few turns before the steering stopped growling.

Because I had never done this before and because I didn't have clear detailed instructions on how to replace the rack I took off a few more things and it took me longer.

I disconnected the half shafts and as you know you have to unbolt the two strut bolts that hold the strut to the control arm assembly. I also stopped on Saturday cause my wife had to work and I didn't have a babysitter. I think it t ook me a total of 8 hrs start to finish. I also rotated my summer wheels to winter wheels and I also changed the oil. I did have air tools and that helped a TON. Thanks go out to my grandpa for the compressor and AnalogKID for the drill. Although, the butterfly would have come in REAL handy !!!

I'd say that if I was to do another one, I should be able to do it start to finish in about 2 hours. It's really not all that bad, plus it saved me about $300 on an install.

I am going to go ahead and get a toe in/out alignment. It's only $35 and it saves the tires in the long run.

Feel free to email me if you have any questins about replacing your steering rack.

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