Is it just the bushings?

2003, 138k, no wrecks

When I turn my wheel left or right there is a creaking. It seems to be coming from steering rack area. I can feel the vibration coming from the inner tie rod bar. I got it inspected and the guy said my rack and pinion are bad, but I don’t have any of the symptoms of a bad rack such as hard steering, clunking noise, looseness, drifting, leaking, etc. the only symptom I have is a creaking when I turn the wheel.

when I look at the rack when turning the wheel it seems to have a bit of play. My question really is whether this is a bad rack and pinion or if it’s just the bushings that are bad.

Without seeing your vehicle I suggest a second opinion . Why do you doubt the guy ?

I don’t necessarily think he’s not honest or anything, I just don’t know how thorough he was in the inspection.

His reasoning for thinking it was the rack and pinion was due to it having quite a bit of play, but I would think the movement is just caused by bad bushings. Could be wrong though.

I can see you have an Impala but nothing else. No mileage, no model year, no history, just “Impala”

I can’t even give a wild guess as to the rack being worn out or not… if it has 30K miles and no accidents, I’d say, nope, not the rack. If it had 150K miles and 2 curb strikes, I’d say could be the rack but…

I don’t think anybody on the internet can give a better assessment of your car than someone standing under it with their eyes and hands on the car. If you don’t think the mechanic is correct, take it elsewhere for a second opinion.


If you get another opinion, only describe the symptoms, and don’t tell them you had another evaluation done. Also, if you want a thorough diagnosis, you may have to pay for it. Something simple like bushings is obvious and you should be charged for that. Ask to see the underside of the car when it’s on the lift and look at the bushings yourself. While you are there, look at the steering rack for abnormalities, like leaks or damage.

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2003 with 138k. I’m really curious if anyone else has had this happen with their vehicle. Like thinking it was the rack and pinion but it turned out to be the bushings.

Thanks for the tip. Yeah maybe I need to ask for a thorough inspection. I went into it assuming I would be paying for them to diagnose the issue but they came back and said they don’t charge for inspections.

Well I am sure that it has happened to other people but that is not the issue . Their problem could have been the rack , bushings or both . You have a problem that needs to be fixed . It is that simple . What kind of shop did you use ?

It was a tire and suspension shop. First time ever using them. I’m just being a cheapo because I don’t want to shell out $420 for a new one, but after 17 years it may just be time for it.

While I have you here could you advise me on a couple brands for the rack and pinion? I basically have to choose between maval, skp, bbb, endurance (autozone), and masterpro (oreillys) if I don’t want to pay over $400 for an acdelco. Are any of these brands reputable besides acdelco?

If you are planning to buy the parts and have a shop install them that is a huge mistake. They will not warranty your parts so if the parts are bad of fail then you will pay for the removal and install of new parts. Just find a shop and let them use what they normally use and ask what their warranty is .

I plan on doing it myself. My wife and father-in-law have done one of these on their 99 maxima and 02 accord and they’ll be helping me out. They have a big garage with all the necessary tools as well. They couldn’t give me a recommendation on the part since they don’t know anything about those specific companies.

Couple of things to check here. With the engine running, have someone outside the car looking at one of the front wheels. Move the steering wheel back and fourth 1" in each direction. The observer should see the wheel move a little. Check the other side as well. If both wheels move a little, then it’s not the rack.

Where the steering column meets the rack, or some place between the rack and the firewall, there will be either a coupler or a U-joint, or both. They are exposed to the weather and tend to rust. They can squeak. They do not need to be replaced but could use a shot of penetrating oil, i.e WD-40, Seafoam, etc.

just a thought… check your ball joints. they will make a creaking sound when turning your wheels when they start to go. sound travels. making you think its something else.

Just tested this and both the tires move a little, but there is no exposed u joint or connector. There’s a boot going from the rack into the firewall and I assume that’s where that linkage is.

From what I’ve heard the ball joint makes more of a squeak than a creaking noise. I’ll get a video of the sound right now and post a link to it.

on my f-150 a ball joint was creaking when you turned the wheels also if you went over a big bump. there was no play in it when I checked it out. I changed it anyway and the creaking was gone.

Here’s the video on the sound. It only happens while steering. It goes over bumps and imperfections in the road without any noise as long as I’m not turning the wheel

Is that swaybar cracked?

from the video it does not sound like a ball joint. if you have a mechanics stethoscope, a pipe or a pry bar, put it on different parts of the suspension while someone is turning the wheel. have one end on your ear and you can narrow down where its coming from

I did place my hand on different components and felt vibration on the inner tie rod bar. Is this sound at all be conducive to a bad inner tie rod?