BMW 325 xi steering "sticky" on curvy roads

I have a 2003 BMW 325xi wagon with mileage of 56k. In warm weather and when the car warms up, on roads with lots of alternating curves, at moderate speeds, on some right turns, the steering will offer a slight resistance and then give. On left turns, there is sometimes a slight loose feeling and a corresponding resistance when I straighten out after the curve. This intermittent problem occurs rarely in a parking lot, as if the workout on a curvy road is necessary to cause the issue. When it occurs in a parking lot, the “give” after the resistance is accompanied by an audible “thump”. This noise presumably occurs all the time but is masked by the noises of the car in motion.

The dealer in my home town could not recreate the problem until the visit where I took the mechanic for a ride and the thunk noise happened once. They said the steering U joint was the problem and charged me $1,700 to “Replace steering u joint and filter housing gasket and vanos oil line. Perform power steering flush”.

After this work and a trip to the mountains, the problem seemed worse, with the issue spreading to left turns. I complained to my home town dealer, who offered not much more than his sympathies.

I took the car to a dealer near our mountain retreat. He said my home town dealer had not performed the power steering flush and that he recommended doing it, even though he doubted it would fix the problem. He did hear the thunk (he called a pop) when the car was on the rack, and he ruled out every issue but the power steering rack, which he says will cost $2,600 to replace.

I’m planning a trip to an independent shop in my home town, but I’m reluctant to put more money into this problem without some assurances that it will be fixed. What steps can I take to ensure proper diagnosis?

I think it’s the rack too. It’s a shame that the dealer wasted your money. I would call them and complain that the issue was not resolved. Then ask them to replace the rack minus the labor.

My Dad bought a $200 mower years ago and it was stolen a few months later. He replaced it (this time keeping it chained to the carport) and told people that was his “$400 mower.” You can soon tell people you have a $4,300 rack in your bimmer.

Rack and pinions can develop slack and hard spots.

Before replacing the R&P, I would give this a try.