When your power steering fails, it’s most likely to be a quick fix like replacing the power steering fluid, the steering fluid lines, or even the pump.
In other, rarer cases, the power steering rack on your vehicle will actually break. That’s rare, primarily because the rack itself is a steel bar and difficult to damage.
If any of the other parts fail, you can normally bolt them on. Unless, of course, you have an integrated hydraulics system.
However, in some cases, parts of the steering rack itself will fail. For example, the tie rod sockets might fail.
In addition, you might have yoke problems. Or, in one of the most common problems, your power steering rack might be leaking. And, if you’ve been in a big accident, you might actually have a broken steering rack.
In this case, you can expect a new steering rack to cost you between $350 and $4,000. For most non-luxury vehicles, a steering rack costs between $257-$1,200. However, you’ll also have to pay for labor and installation costs if you choose to have the work done by a mechanic. This normally costs 4-8 hours of your mechanic’s time plus garage fees. This means you’ll pay anywhere from $300 to over $1,000 in labor costs as well. Therefore, the total average cost of replacing a steering rack is between $800 and $4,000. That’s a big difference. However, the largest price factors are usually the make and model of your car.
In addition, if you have your steering rack replaced, you might also have to have the gearbox or pinion replaced as well. If so, that will increase the average cost of replacement.
The table below shows a quick price comparison of steering rack replacement cost estimates from reputable suppliers:
|Supplier||Labor||Steering Rack Cost|
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How Much Does Steering Rack Replacement Cost?*
The largest factor impacting the cost of your steering rack replacement is the make and model of your car. In addition, the age of your car will matter.
For example, most light-duty cars use hydraulic-assisted power steering. If you have electric or electro-hydraulic power steering, costs could change.
However, that does mean you can normally predict the average cost of replacing your power steering rack based on nothing more than the make and model of your car.
In fact, you can see average costs based on 10 popular vehicles below.
|Vehicle||Steering Rack Cost|
*Note: Prices are estimates and were correct at the time of writing (February 2022). Cost estimates may have changed since, our figures should be used as a starting point for your own research.
Replacement Steering Rack Price Factors
The largest factor impacting the cost of replacing your steering rack is your car’s make and model. Additionally, you also have to consider the cost of labor.
Normally, removing and replacing a steering rack can take anywhere from 3-8+ hours. This means costs will range from $60-$1200+ depending on your mechanic’s rates.
In most cases, if your steering rack is damaged, it’s a major deal for your vehicle.
The steering rack is a metal bar with a gearbox, which attaches to the pinion (a bar attached to the steering column). This provides gear-ratio shifts between turning the steering wheel and turning the wheels.
In most modern cars, the steering rack and pinion system is hydraulic assisted. This means you also have a hydraulic reservoir (steering fluid), steering fluid lines, a pump, and other parts that might have to be replaced.
Many steering racks are also sold as rack and pinion. This means you can’t always buy the steering rack without the gearbox. This can add to the cost for that model.
In addition, the steering rack connects to the tie rod ends. Because the tie rod sockets are the most likely part of your steering rack to fail, you might also have to replace the tie rod ends. That can add to the cost of the repair.
Finally, any time you replace parts in a hydraulic steering system, you’ll have to replace the power steering fluid. That ranges from $16-$125 depending on your vehicle and its needs.
You’ll also want to have your vehicle balanced and the tires rotated. This ensures your steering system is balanced well.
Essentially, that means your car doesn’t pull to the left or right, and that you get an even response on both sides of the car. Without that, your vehicle can be dangerous to drive.
Make and Model
Make and model are the most influential factors in the cost of replacing a steering rack. A BMW or Mercedes steering rack always costs more than a Toyota or a Dodge steering rack.
Unfortunately, there’s little you can do about brand-related pricing. In addition, with few generic or aftermarket options available – after all steering racks don’t usually go bad – you’ll only have a few options.
In fact, for any given make and model, you might have just one option and the remanufactured version.
Labor and Garage Fees
Labor and garage fees are often a significant factor in the cost of replacing a steering rack.
For example, you can expect replacing a steering rack to take anywhere from 2 to 8+ hours. That’s because you have to take off the power steering, the wheels, the tie rods, and the tie rack can take time.
Most importantly, because you have to take off both wheels, it requires having either good jacks or a vehicle lift.
In addition, you can expect to pay a garage fee for each day your vehicle sits at the garage. That can be one day if the mechanic has time immediately.
However, if you have to have your vehicle towed and you have to wait for parts, it can be multiple days or even weeks. This essentially means you could pay a large garage fee as part of the bill.
Steering Rack Condition
While new steering racks almost always cost well above $250, you don’t have to buy new ones. In fact, many mechanics and auto-parts stores sell remanufactured steering racks.
That’s a great option if you’re looking for a repair for an already aging car. In fact, if you look at the chart above, the steering racks on the lower end of the cost scale are all remanufactured.
Do you need a new steering rack? No. In fact, you likely won’t notice a difference. If you’re not sure, you can always talk to your mechanic about the right choice for your vehicle.
Changing Steering Rack Steps
If you want to change your steering rack, doing the work yourself can save you hundreds. However, it’s important that you have the right tools on hand.
Here, the most important are jacks and a jack stand. Why? If you can’t get your vehicle fully off the ground and stable, it’s not safe to remove the steering rack yourself.
Things You’ll Need:
- Wrench set (at minimum, 18mm line wrench)
- Socket and Ratchet Set (at minimum 15mm socket, 18mm socket)
- Crowfoot wrench set
- Floor jacks + Jack stand
- Lug wrench
- Needle nose pliers
- Flat screwdriver
- Replacement steering rack
- Power steering fluid
- Park your vehicle on a flat and level surface and turn the engine off. Make sure the wheels are pointing straight ahead.
- Lift the vehicle using a floor jack and jack stand.
- Use a lug wrench to loosen and remove the wheels.
- Take the 18mm wrench to loosen the tie rod ends.
- Use a hammer to knock the tie rod end loose. If you have a tie rod pull, you can use that instead.
- Then, unscrew the tie rod from the rack.
- You also want to repeat the process on both sides of the vehicle.
- Remove the stabilizer bolts from the torsion bar.
- Unbolt the torsion bar from the frame.
- Pull the torsion bar backwards to create enough room.
- Find the bolts attaching the steering rack to the frame. Often the bolts are difficult to access so a crowfoot wrench may be necessary.
- Use a wrench to turn the fitting off.
- Remove the power steering hose lines. You may have to unscrew clamps.
- Find the pinch bolt and undo it.
- Slide the power steering rack off. It may require wriggling or a hammer.
- Measure how far out the bolt is in the old tie rod. Then attach the bolt the same distance on the new steering rack. You’ll still have to have your steering aligned for safety. However, this will ensure it’s closer than you could get with guesswork.
- Slide the rack back into place. Make sure it’s in the groove.
- Slide the steering column shaft back in and tighten the pinch bolt.
- Put the hoses back on. Replace the bolts.
- Re-bolt the torsion bar.
- Then screw the tie rods back in till they touch the nut.
- Finally, tighten everything so it doesn’t slip.
You’ll want to put the wheels back on your car as a final step. Finally, you always have to replace the power steering fluid. Fill it according to your make and model instructions.
Importantly, your vehicle may not be safe to drive. Try out the steering in a yard or parking lot before taking it on the highway. You’ll also want to have the steering aligned by a professional.
Often, mechanics offer this as a flat rate service starting from about $19.99 but ranging up to $69.99.
If you pay to have your steering rack replaced, front end alignment is almost always included in the cost.
That can be an important factor, as driving to a mechanic to have the front-end aligned can be dangerous if you haven’t aligned everything well enough.
It’s unusual to damage your steering rack. Chances are, you still have a lot of questions.
Can you drive with a bad steering rack?
You may be able to, especially if it’s just leaking power steering fluid. However, chances are high that you cannot and that you should not.
For example, even with a steering fluid leak, your steering could become unresponsive at any time. That makes it dangerous to drive. It also makes you a hazard on the road.
If your power steering rack is going bad, you have to have it fixed as quickly as possible.
Can a pothole damage the steering rack?
Yes. The tie rod ends attach to the steering rack via rings. These are unfortunately easily damaged by tension and stress.
If you go over a pothole with enough force, it could cause the rings to stretch, crack, or otherwise weaken.
In addition, it could cause damage to other parts of the power steering. For example, the tension rod or the lines. These will all cause issues with your steering rack.
How long does a steering rack last?
In many cases, a power steering rack lasts the lifetime of the car. In most cases, damage is only incidental or accidental. Steering racks do not degrade as a part of normal wear and tear.
Therefore, if something has gone wrong, it’s unusual. That might mean you’ve gotten a leak, you drive in rough conditions, or you haven’t filled your power steering fluid enough.
However, it does mean that it’s unlikely to ever happen again.
If your power steering rack goes bad, often the only option is to replace it. That’s especially true if you have a power steering rack with an integrated steering fluid reservoir.
These are difficult to repair. Therefore, your best option is to install a new one.
Changing a steering rack costs anywhere from $180 to well over $4,000 depending on the make and model of your car and if you do it yourself or not.
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