CarTalk.com Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Rack and pinion - Is there an alternative to replacement?

I have a '98 vw passat 1.8t. Three weeks ago, I heard a very loud noise coming from the driver front side, and I found that the power steering fluid was drained out. I promptly filled the fluid and noise disappeared right away. Problems began when I noticed that I had to refill the power steering fluid again in a week, and I took it to my mechanic. The shocker came when he said that I need to replace “rack and pinion” and that it costs 1000 bucks (500 for remanufactured parts and 500 labor including wheel alignment). I am wondering whether I should spend so much on the car given that I expect more repairs over the period of next year (I see delayed and jerky acceleration when I switch to 2nd and 3rd gears).



Here is my question: Is there an economical alternative to replacing the rack-and-pinion, like repair or sealing the leak etc . Is it dangerous to drive the car without replacing the rack and pinion, and just refilling the power steering fluid regularly.

This is what I use to stop power steering leaks when the owner of the vehicle can’t afford to install a rack and pinion assembly, or if the vehicle isn’t worth installing a rack and pinion assembly. Follow the directions on the bottle, and it should stop the leak. http://www.lucasoil.com/products/display_products.sd?iid=28&catid=2&loc=show

Tester

Happiness in a 12oz bottle, what more could you ask for??

Keep buying fluid and some stop leak and pray.

I would not put $1000 into this car that has lived the average life of a car in the US.

Thanks for the great suggestion. I’m going to give it a try today.

I would agree with you, Andrew. I’ll try out the stop leak and pray :).

I agree with the consensus here, the car is probably not worth the investment, but FYI, the price he quoted is pretty good. My usual source wants $750 for a rebuilt rack for that car.

Thanks Tester! Lucas stop leak worked like a charm - no leaks in my rack and pinion any more :slight_smile:

This is not a permanent fix. It will last, days, weeks, perhaps even a year but the rack is bad and will leak again. Now is the time to sell the car or plan on getting something else. When you start leaking again another dose of Lucas may not stop the leak a 2nd time.

Take UncleTurbo’s advice seriously. The stop leak bought you some time, but the rack-and-pinion unit will start leaking again. It’s not a matter of it, but when.

The hydraulic lines can be removed from the rack and pinion and it will work fine as a manual system if the driver has the arms to deal with steering at low speeds. But that leaves the pump and its belt to deal with. By-passing the pump pulley is ideal but not always possible. The pressure line can be turned back to dump in the reservoir on some systems… It’s amazing what people have done to keep cars on the road. I wish I had taken pictures over the years.