How To Tell If Steering Rack Needs Replacing?

Steering Rack Replacing

Many indicators may point to the fact that you have a bad steering rack including a tight steering wheel, power steering fluid leaks, peculiar noise while steering, and a burning smell.

In extreme cases, your steering rack can go as far as causing you to lose control of your steering wheel, which could lead to a fatal accident.

The good news is that it is not difficult to notice that the steering rack is faulty and needs replacing. Here's how to tell.

How To Tell If Your Steering Rack Needs Replacing?

You don’t need an oracle to tell you that you have a problem with your steering system when your steering wheel starts feeling differently. Whether your car uses an electronic or hydraulic steering system, there are a lot of components that make up the steering system. How do you tell it is your steering rack that is causing problems?

1. Steering wheel is tight or loose

You can tell your steering rack needs replacing when your steering rack starts underperforming. You might begin noticing tight or loose steering, depending on the impact of the damage.

The steering rack relies on hydraulic pressure to function. When the steering rack is compromised, achieving easy and quick handling becomes harder. This is usually caused by a loss of hydraulic pressure or lack of lubrication.

When the rack is not well lubricated, direct contact with the pinion will generate heat and friction that will wear the steering rack.

If this continues, the steering rack will eat into the driveshaft, causing you to notice “dead spots.” Your steering wheel becomes unresponsive, or you will need to turn it some inches further before it responds to a turn.

2. Car wanders left to right

If you are beginning to notice a loss of control and balance, there are chances that your steering rack needs replacement. The rack combines with the pinion to convert rotational motion to linear motion to enable movement of the wheels.

A faulty rack will cause you to lose control of the car. The car might start wandering from left to right, causing a loss of stability and balance during rides.

You should check your steering rack if you notice a loss in your grip and handling. This issue can extend to the unusually wearing of your tires. This is because it is driving to one side.

3. Unusual noises when you use the steering

An unusual noise when you use the steering indicates that you need to replace the steering rack. You might notice a clunking, grinding, or knocking sound in your steering. The problem with this symptom is that the driveshaft also mimics the clicking noise.

The clunking noise from a bad steering rack occurs when you run the steering wheel and return it to its initial position. In some cases, these noises are caused by an overheated steering rack.

These noises can come from a lack of lubrication. The dry components will make noises when you turn, and they make contact.

4. Burning Smell

There are a lot of things that can cause a burning smell from your vehicle. However, we can’t rule out the possibility of a failing steering rack.

You can tell that your steering rack needs replacing when you notice burning smells. This is usually because the steering rack/system overheats. You put your car at risk of fire or great damage if you continue driving the car with a burning smell.

5. Power Steering Fluid Leaks

When you notice a power steering fluid leak, you can tell you need to replace your steering rack. A bad steering rack can generate power steering fluid leaks.

In some cases, it might not mean that you have a bad steering rack; it might just mean that you have loose fittings.

What Causes a Steering Rack To Break?

There are a lot of factors that can cause the steering rack to break. These factors determine the extent of damage that happens to the steering rack.

Let’s walk through some things that cause a steering rack to break.

  • Potholes and bad road conditions
  • Fluid contamination
  • Wear and tear the steering pump
  • Driving styles/rough handling
  • Environmental Conditions


You need to inspect your steering rack for a replacement anytime you notice slight changes in your steering wheel and handling. You don’t need to wait until the issue is complicated, compounding costs for you.

Do not attempt to drive a car with a bad steering rack. It is too dangerous.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a bad steering rack sound like?

A bad steering rack has a clunking and grinding sound. The clunking and grinding intensifies when you take a turn or hit a bump.

Is replacing a steering rack a big job?

Replacing a steering rack can be time-consuming but not as big as it should be if you know what you are doing. It is not usually tricky; you must ensure that you are trained enough to follow the required steps.

Is it safe to drive with a shaking steering wheel?

You can drive with a shaking steering wheel, but it is unsafe to do so. A shaking steering wheel will cause unbalanced wheels, lead to a loss of brake power, and cause poor vehicle control.

How long should a replaced steering rack last?

A replaced steering rack should last as long as the vehicle will last. There is no defined lifespan for a steering rack; they last in proportion to how frequently you use the car. Frequent rides and extreme driving conditions will initiate wear and tear on the steering rack.

Can steering racks cause vibration?

Yes. The steering rack can cause vibrations when they are worn or faulty. The vibrations will increase as you accelerate or try to take a turn. In some cases, the rack might not cause vibrations but will cause different trigger factors to make other parts of your car vibrate.