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Steering Rack & Pinion

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Hey Scotty! I'm beginning to look at different rack and pinion brands for my 2002 Camry 2.4L (188k miles). I've been getting symptoms during the past few weeks and it is all leading to the rack being worn, considering that I've never changed it, and I'm sure the previous owner didn't change it so it must be original.

  • Steering wheel shake and wonder while going over small bumps.
  • Front end and steering wheel vibrates whenever I go over 80mph on the highway.
  • Small clunk sound while turning the wheel that sounds like its around the steering shaft area.
  • Small fluid seep coming from driver side of rack.

I am for sure certain that it's not anything else because I've checked every single suspension component before getting to the rack (inner & outer tie rods, control arms & bushings, struts, new tires (and tire balance), new rims, brake rotors, brake calipers, sway bar end links, sway bar bushings, cv axles, ball joints, power steering pump (& fluid). I've also had my alignment checked and all the symptoms still persist.

Attached are some pictures of the rack: https://postimg.cc/gallery/CFznf0J

Do you know any good brands for a rack and pinion? I've noticed most of them are reman, but I've had so many problems in the past with reman parts that I would rather bite the bullet and pay the price of a new one.

Thanks for your time!

2 Answers
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The fluid seep is the only one of those items that is definitively a problem with the rack. There are plenty of other wear points in a 21-year-old car that would result in the other symptoms.

Thank you for your response, Chuck. Do you know what other wear points I should check for? I'm desperately out of ideas on what to check or replace at this point.

All suspension components, including control arm bushings, ball joints, inner and outer tie rod ends, struts, strut mounts, etc. Also check wheel bearings for looseness, wheels for straightness, and tires for balance and roundness.

Inner tie rods are getting a bit loose! Turns out Detroit Axle tie rods do not last more than 2 1/2 years. Just got a pair of OEM Toyota ones, hope that solves the problem. Thank you, Chuck!

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