Rack and Pinion Steering

Is it safe to drive a car that needs a new rack and pinion? The mechanic that diagnosed the problem said it was safe to drive, yet others (friends & family) say I shouldn’t drive it. Can’t get it fixed until June - should I park it?

It depends on why the rack needs to be replaced. If the seals are leaking, it can be driven (as long as you keep the fluid topped off). If there are mechanical problems inside the rack (broken teeth, bad spool valve, etc.), it’s not safe to drive.

You’re gonna have to provide more information to get some opinions. What kind of car? What specifically is wrong with the R&P? Symptoms?

The main problem I see is that the car may be difficult to turn at slow speed and in cramped quarters. It may contribute to muscle building depending on the type of vehicle, tires, alignment, etc.

Many of the older Subarus for example had manual rack and pinion steering units when power steering racks were an option only. The racks were essentially the same except for pinion ratio (which aided in manually steering the car) and could be easily interchanged. One of my old Subarus went almost 300k miles on a manual rack with no problems.

It’s a 98 Stratus, V6, automatic. I had the ball joints/tie rods checked because the knocking sound was similar to the noise they make when their going bad. I do have some play in my steering, but I am not finding it difficult to steer. Seems the powersteering is working just fine. Just a clanking noise - mostly on turns.

Your symptom point towards a faulty CV joint. No idea how this was diagnosed as a steering rack problem.

There is not a whole lot inside a R&P unit to cause a knocking sound. The usual cause for replacement is leaking seals. My guess is that the knocking sound is coming from the outside of the unit, which would be symptomatic of a broken R&P mounting bolt or tie-rod ends, in which case, I would definately not drive it until repaired.

Another question: Do you find your car to be wandering from side to side when on a straight lane? If so, this could be a real symptom of tie-rod wear, or a CV joint as noted below.

Thanks everyone, for your time and thoughts. I will definitely be getting this repaired sooner than I had hoped for. Economic Stimulus Payment, where are you???