Select Page

Steering Systems



Rack and pinion steering gear is exactly what it sounds like — a rack and a pinion. The rack is a flat, grooved/toothed bar that extends horizontally across the bottom of the engine compartment, connecting the left and right front wheels to one another. The rack is connected to the wheels via inner and outer tie rod ends.

steering rack diagram what it looks like

Most cars and some trucks are powered by rack-and-pinion steering gear.  It’s a simple, lightweight rack with differently sized metal teeth. Unlike a simple steering system, a power steering system’s rack has a slightly different design and contains more parts. On the middle of the steering rack, you’ll find a cylinder with a piston. This piston is designed with two fluid ports to direct higher-pressure fluid to one of its side and eventually provide the power needed to steer your car.


When the pinion rotates, it moves the rack from side to side, controlling the direction of the wheels. Essentially, when you turn the steering wheel to the left, the pinion also turns to the left, which in turn pushes the rack to the right. This pushes the back of the right tire out, and pulls the back of the left tire in, so that the wheels point to the right. The opposite takes place when you turn the steering wheel to the left.

 Power rack and pinion steering is technically not fully power steering, but power assisted steering as the rack and pinion is simply aided by the power steering pump. Essentially, pressurized hydraulic fluid assists the pinion in moving the rack back and forth, making it easier on the driver to turn the wheel.


The steering-box system               

At the base of the steering column there is a worm gear inside a box. A worm is a threaded cylinder like a short bolt. Imagine turning a bolt which holding a nut on it; the nut would move along the bolt. In the same way, turning the worm moves anything fitted into its thread.

Depending on the design, the moving part may be a sector (like a slice of a gear wheel), a peg or a roller connected to a fork, or a large nut.

The nut system has hardened balls running inside the thread between the worm and the nut. As the nut moves, the balls roll out into a tube that takes them back to the start; it is called a recirculating-ball system.

The worm moves a drop arm linked by a track rod to a steering arm that moves the nearest front wheel.

In recirculating-ball steering, the thread between the worm and nut is filled with balls.

A central track rod reaches to the other side of the car, where it is linked to the other front wheel by another track rod and steering arm. A pivotedidler arm holds the far end of the central track rod level. Arm layouts vary.

The steering-box system has many moving parts, so is less precise than the rack system, there being more room for wear and displacement.


Rack and Pinion Failure & Replacement

There are several significant reasons that cause rack and pinion failure; most commonly leaks, worn gears, or fluid contamination. In the case of leak, there is a loss of power steering fluid, but it’s not always visible as the fluid may be rushing into the steering boot or steering bellows. A leak somewhere in the steering system can also lead to a contamination in the power steering fluid itself which reduces the effectiveness of the fluid. Lastly, but often in conjunction with these power steering fluid issues, the gears inside the rank and pinion may wear down which can cause your vehicle to “float” or “wander” while driving straight ahead.

Replacing your steering rack is not a quick and easy job as the steering column and components come through the engine compartment and firewall which typically puts other engine and chassis parts in the middle of things. Sometimes a few other parts have to be removed and reinstalled during your steering rack replacement. Afterwards, your steering system will also require a wheel alignment to get your front tires pointing straight.



Steering Boxes and Pumps

Steering Gear Box RedHead
Power steering pump

Common symptoms of power steering box failure:

  • power steering fluid leak
  • play in steering wheel
  • hard or jittery steering
  • death wobble

Common symptoms of power steering box failure:

  • hard steering
  • whining/howling noise when steering wheel is turned
  • hard steering one way


We are the Canadian Dealer for Redhead Steering Gears



We also sells Borgeson steering shafts and factory replacement shafts.  Our service advisors will help you make the best choice.

Steering shafts at Dales


7 + 10 =