Hydraulic power steering systems are really pretty simple. There is a pump that pressurizes fluid and a gear box that uses that pressurized fluid and the input from the steering wheel to actually turn the tires of your vehicle. Ther are also a couple of hoses or lines carrying the fluid around but that’s about it! Due to the simple nature of the system steering gear box replacement is often a simple job.
Before we get into the nuts and bolts, we want to make sure we’re talking about the same thing. Many cars have rack and pinion steering today. Rack and pinion steering is popular because it reduces the need for a number of steering linkages like a drag link or toe bar but on most vehicles replacing the rack and pinion is a chore due to its length.
Steering gear box replacement usually only requires removing 3 bolts and 2 nuts and besides being heavy is usually very easy to remove from your vehicle. There are a couple of tricks that are worth pointing out:
Steering Gear Box Replacement Tricks
- Remove The pitman arm before you do anything else! Feel free to leave it connected to the drag link and it’s always a good idea to mark where it came off the old steering gear to help with reassembly. Use a pitman arm puller to avoid damaging the arm or splines and use penetrating oil to help with disassembly. The pitman arm presses onto the steering gear box shaft so it’s going to take a lot of force with the puller to get it off.
- Remove the power steering fluid lines before you loosen the gear box. It will help prevent damage to the lines and is much easier than trying to support a heavy box while turning a line wrench.
- Flushing your old fluid out. If your steering gear box has internal damage or a bad seal there will be contamination in your fluid. Clean fluid will help protect your new steering gear
- Properly torque your new pitman arm nut. If that nut comes loose and the pitman arm comes off you will lose steering! You’ll most likely need a really large socket on your torque wrench or a pipe wrench, force gauge, tape measure, and calculator.
- Burp the system properly before you start the engine to protect your power steering pump.
Lastly, don’t be afraid of remanufactured steering gear boxes. They can be a great way to save money and often come with really good warranties.
If all this seems like too much for your vehicle and you’re just doing a steering gear box replacement to seal a leak, consider using BlueDevil Power Steering Stop Leak to stop the leak and keep your vehicle on the road for less!
A few more quick tips:
- Use the right power steering fluid. Some cars take ATF, Hondas take their own specific, etc.
- If your power steering lines have O-rings on them, replace them!
- Before you remove your steering column, put your steering straight and loop your seatbelt through the steering wheel. It will help with reassembly and can keep you from damaging your clock spring.
- It’s going to be messy so bring a big drain pan and wear gloves.
- If your power steering pump is noisy after you’ve replaced everything and bled the system, let it sit for an hour or 2 with the cap off, top it off and it should quiet down.
You can pick up BlueDevil Power Steering Stop Leak at one of your local auto parts stores like:
- Advance Auto Parts
- CarQuest Auto Parts
- NAPA Auto Parts
- O’Reilly Auto Parts
- Pep Boys
- Canadian Tire