How to tell if rack and pinion is bad: Understand the symptoms

The steering rack is known as the heart of the steering system. No one would simply want this component of the car to worn out as everybody loves their life. However, is it possible for you how to tell if rack and pinion is bad?

Sometimes our steering wheel doesn’t perform the right way and takes our car in the opposite direction. Without any doubt, steering failure is one of the critical problems, a car owner could face. A bad steering rack and pinion can make you lose complete control and grip over the vehicle.

Why are people reluctant to keep their steering rack maintained? It is due to the cost attached to it. The procedure of maintaining it is expensive.

In this article, we will understand whether the steering rack has such an important role to play and what are the most common problems a driver could encounter?

How does a steering rack work?

The steering rack and pinion are the components of the car which help it turn right and left whenever the driver wishes to.

How does a steering rack work

This component consists of intermediate shafts, universal joints, and in the middle of it is the gearbox or the steering rack. The driver is the one who gives the signal to the central unit to carry out the process. Due to this, the steering wheel receives input of making the shafts and tie rods work efficiently.

How has the steering rack changed over the years?

In the development phase of new modern cars, the manufacturing companies have tried to make the car elements and components more efficient.

While keeping that in mind, the steering rack was improved to make it comfortable for all the drivers. The steering rack progressed from non-power to hydraulic and electric power steering racks.

However, the fundamental principle of a steering rack hasn’t changed at all but the improvements have given the advantage of extra turning power to the driver.

How does a steering rack fail?

How does a steering rack fail

Every car owner needs to get their steering rack checked and maintained. However, if it is not maintained then the driver might have to face major consequences.

Here are some of the reasons or symptoms due to which steering rack stops working;

The steering becomes loose

It would be impossible for you to drive in a straight line if your car’s steering becomes loose. One of the basic issues that arise is losing the steering wheel. It is a clear indication that the rack and pinion are wearing out.

Some roads are uneven and bumpy. Due to this, your car wouldn’t be able to stay on the right track with loose steering. Moreover, after you turn your car, you will notice that the steering doesn’t return to its original position.

Leaking fluid from the power steering

Whenever there is a low level of fluid left in your steering wheel, you will be able to feel the hardness in it. However, in the majority of the cars, the steering system is hydraulic, so the fluid won’t decrease until there’s some major leakage.

Leaking fluid from the power steering

Fluid leaks due to these factors:

  • Broken gasket
  • Loose-fitting
  • Any other machinal issue

If these problems are not solved in time, so your car’s gearbox might fail to result in severe accidents.

It is easy to understand that your car is leaking the power steering fluid due to the smell it creates and the red or pink color, which distinguishes it from other fluids.

Irritating noise when steering

When metal-on-metal contact starts contacting excessively, these irritating noises are created. When no proper lubrication or service is done, there are high chances of the gearbox failing.

Irritating noise when steering

You might hear these noises when your car hits a bump or you make a sharp turn. As soon you hear these noises, you need to contact a trusted mechanic.

Burning oil smell

This smell is a warning sign that the gearbox is working less efficiently or is on the verge of breaking down. Once you feel that the fluid smells like burning oil, it is a clear indication that the gearbox has become extremely hot.

If such a thing happens, stop your vehicle immediately instead of driving. Connect with a mechanic as soon as possible and get this problem solved.


How to tell if rack and pinion is bad? The steering rack and pinion are quite essential for your car to be in shape. If these components are not working at their full pace, so you won’t be able to drive your favorite car with full freedom.

If you feel or come across any of the above-mentioned symptoms, try to get in touch with the trusted mechanic before the problem becomes worse.

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