Replace Rack or Bushings?

Hi there,

I just replaced both outer tie rods and lower control arms on a 2004 Grand Am due to sloppy steering and an occasional clunk coming from the front passenger side. The steering now feels tight, but I’m now getting a clunk coming from from the center of the vehicle when turning the steering wheel, usually only at low speeds or while not moving.

The local shop says my rack and pinion are shot and would like to replace it. They said the bushing is completely gone. I don’t doubt them, but why replace the whole rack and pinion, couldn’t only the bushings be replaced? Could the new control arms and tie rod ends tightened things up and thus caused the rack clunk to be more prominent?

The car has always steered fine otherwise. Currently there’s quite a bit of slop in the wheel when hitting bumps and holes, but I assume that’s due to it needing an alignment after the parts I replaced (I’m trying to hold off on the alignment until I get the rack and pinion repaired).

I’m concerned that replacing the original rack with an aftermarket rebuild could lead to additional problems and I’m not wanting to spend the money on an OEM rack for this old of a car.

I appreciate any thoughts or insight.

Edit: I should also say that there are no power steering leaks and the boots on the current rack look good.

You have the option of anything, but internet analysis fails hands on inspection every time, get a second opinion if you are not sure

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Replace the rack and pinion bushings if you wish, they are not costly.

Understand that a repair shop is going to want to replace the rack and pinion, disturbing a 15 year old steering rack can lead to a “come back”, a related failure.

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By the way, clunks or vibrations can never be fixed by alignment.

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I would take a look at the stabilizer bar links.They often cause noise on bumpy roads.

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