Hi Paul, I drive a Toyota RAV4 2007. Lately my steering has become hard and makes strange grinding noise. My mechanic recently checked it and told me I have to replace the steering rack and steering pump. These parts are very expensive and why should they both fail at the same time? Kindly advise. Robert Mukama
Hello Robert, judging from the symptoms mentioned, your steering rack may have failed and the steering pump ought to be replaced with it to avoid damaging the new steering rack.
To understand why you need to change the above two steering components, first appreciate the roles played by the steering rack and pump.
Most cars built within the last three decades use the steering rack and pinion. The steering rack system relies on the turning of a pinion gear attached to the steering wheel coloum.
The pinion gear constantly meshes against a rack cut with teeth in it and attached to linkages on either side which connect to the wheels.
This works differently from the older steering box which uses a recirculating ball on bearings to circulate in a path and convert the steering wheels rotating movements to the left or right wheel turns.
The steering pump, driven by a gear or belt pulley, pressurises the steering fluid and delivers all its vital steering systems. Major symptoms of steering rack failure include tight steering wheel due to lack of fluid, leaking power steering fluid due to loose or damaged hoses and seals, grinding noises on the steering when turning and smell of burning oil.
Steering rack failure manifests when there is wear and tear of rack gears, bushings and bearings.
This can result from steering fluid contamination, leakage of steering fluid from loose or damaged hoses and seals, steering pump wear which prevents prompt delivery of heat desipating and lubricating fluid.
Sometimes physical damage can happen to the steering rack due to impact during accidents or driving over potholes.
To resolve this problem, you will need to consider buying a brand new or quality remanufactured steering from reliable suppliers. You can also purchase a quality used steering rack.