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Old 05-18-2013, 12:59 AM   #1
awakenthedead
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Default Steering rack and pinion possible problem.

My front end has had some noise I checked it today and the rack and pinion moves about a quarter of an inch when the steering wheel is cranked hard one way or the other. I've heard there is supposed to be a small amount of flex and I've heard that there isn't. Is the quarter inch of play something I need to worry about or is it normal? Can I just retighten the bolts? What are the torque specs on those bolts?

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Old 05-18-2013, 04:51 PM   #2
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2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: Steering rack and pinion possible problem.

There shouldn't be any loose r&p unit as this will cause alignment problems related to steering with possible erratic off center feeling. While I don't have torque numbers for Vues, the L200/L300 r&p numbers say 35ft-lbs+ for both mounting bolts/nuts. If you find these bolts loose then tighten them, period. The service manual says they're not reusable.

Was this r&p unit ever worked on?

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Old 05-18-2013, 06:07 PM   #3
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Default Re: Steering rack and pinion possible problem.

I have no idea if it was ever worked on. I know it was driven hard before I got it. Just to clarify, it is not going to make things worse or harm anything to tighten the bolts back up and I SHOULD do it?

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Old 05-18-2013, 06:19 PM   #4
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2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: Steering rack and pinion possible problem.

No it won't harm anything to tighten the bolts. Driven hard always does something to any vehicle. Its a little unusual for a steering rack to loosen up so hard driving, perhaps off road too(?), may have contributed. Obviously straining the steering wheel fully left or right loads the mechanics. Any chance this car was used in auto crossing where low speed and tight turns loads the steering system too?

When tightening up, check your work by testing full left and right. If tightened then the rack shouldn't budge at all.

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Old 05-18-2013, 07:18 PM   #5
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Default Re: Steering rack and pinion possible problem.

I have no legit history of the vehicle before I got it. It's very possible. All I know is what I've discovered is wrong with it since I've gotten it. Last night I confirmed the rack is loose. I figured tightening it would be the right thing, but I've heard on some things like that tightening loose bolts can be bad and they should just be replaced. So I wanted to make sure it's not gonna make things worse in the end and of course get the torque specs so I don't over torque them and really break something.

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Old 05-18-2013, 07:53 PM   #6
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Default Re: Steering rack and pinion possible problem.

As I see it, based on some assumptions, rack and pinion units are the same for virtually all cars - a basic cast aluminum housing machined to carry seals, steering rack, pinion gear, etc.. Mounting with nuts and bolts would mean drilled holes to accommodate the bolts to mount to the chassis or engine carriage. Tightening nuts and bolts would mean using special nuts that lock and restrict turning (loosening up). As long as tightening them doesn't allow loosening on its own, you're fine. Periodic checking like when the next oil change occurs or the next time you're under the car is good enough to check for loosening fasteners. The torque for tightening is used to hold the r&p unit in place while giving the best hold for strength without anything moving.

Tighten only enough to stop the bolt or nut from turning with a lot of force (muscle). 35 ft-lbs is medium-to-low torque. Overtightening simply means stretching the bolt and eventually snapping it (gorilla mentality). 100 ft-lbs is tire nut/bolt torque.

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Old 05-18-2013, 09:34 PM   #7
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Default Re: Steering rack and pinion possible problem.

That's actually kinda got me worried. I would t think there would be enough space in either the frame holes or the bracket holes on the RP to allow to any real movement. I could be and hope I'm wrong. I don't think I have a wrench ths size so it'll be Thursday or Friday till my buddy who has a lot more tools then me will be able to help me with it. Ill post back with the results.

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Old 05-22-2013, 06:30 PM   #8
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Default Re: Steering rack and pinion possible problem.

finally had a chance today to get under my car and tighten up the rack and pinion and low and behold those bolts are crazy tight to begin with. are there any rubber or plastic bushings that are in the mounting holds that might have disintegrated? otherwise everything looks normal and the bolts at super tight so thats not the problem.

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Old 05-22-2013, 07:05 PM   #9
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2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: Steering rack and pinion possible problem.

Sooo, the r&p unit is solidly mounted and not moving as you thought? If not the steering rack then you'll have to start from the beginning by examining the steering system as a whole, either on the ground with engine running or up on a lift with front wheels unloaded and free to turn by hand without the engine running. You'll be checking for slop in mechanics from the steering wheel, steering shaft column, connection to the rack unit, tie rods, and wheel knuckles. A steering/suspension expert may be needed to see if there's anything broken/loose/bent/worn.

There aren't any hidden bushings to wear out under those mounting bolts. If you carefully observe how the steering system operates, the chassis holding the steering rack cannot be allowed to move with a loosely mounted steering rack assembly - all steering forces are transferred from the steering wheel to the front wheels with minimum slop through all the mechanical connections. Rack and pinion steering is the ultimate in steering accuracy.

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Old 05-22-2013, 09:31 PM   #10
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Default Re: Steering rack and pinion possible problem.

Quote:
Originally Posted by awakenthedead View Post
finally had a chance today to get under my car and tighten up the rack and pinion and low and behold those bolts are crazy tight to begin with. are there any rubber or plastic bushings that are in the mounting holds that might have disintegrated? otherwise everything looks normal and the bolts at super tight so thats not the problem.
Most Vue's have some front end noise.

What year is your Vue? There's at least one service bulletin to "adjust" the intermediate steering shaft pinch bolt for 2004 Vue.

The file's in post 13 of this thread:

http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=180764

...
I try to visit forum often but suggest you use private messages if in a rush (comes to cell) and include email address for extracts. I seldom check visitor messages so please don't use.

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Old 05-22-2013, 11:21 PM   #11
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Default Re: Steering rack and pinion possible problem.

the r&p is firmly mounted but DOES move, but only when the wheels are on the ground. with the front end jacked up and someone turning the wheel the r&p does not move.

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Old 05-22-2013, 11:44 PM   #12
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Default Re: Steering rack and pinion possible problem.

Is is possible that you're seeing engine cradle movement? There are rubber isolation bushings between the engine cradle and chassis to absorb road vibrations and isolate road noise from the occupants inside the car.

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Old 06-08-2013, 03:10 PM   #13
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Default Re: Steering rack and pinion possible problem.

sorry it has taken me so long to reply. The R&P is what is moving. The bolts are very tight. The cross member it is mounted to is stable. also i should note that even with only one wheel jacked up and off the ground turning the wheel does not cause the R&P to move it only happens with both wheels on the ground. everything in the front end feels tight when off the ground. when i am driving on the other hand there is still alot of noise and i can feel vibration in the pedals and the floor so i know something is loose.

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Old 06-08-2013, 03:24 PM   #14
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Default Re: Steering rack and pinion possible problem.

With so much doubt on your mind, you may have to take your Vue to a good alignment shop or someplace (honest) to examine your steering system. You might have to go try several places for opinions to gather opinions before any repairs are suggested. And don't go in and give away anything you already know but give a hint about where you think a problem is. This way, a shop will have some idea of what to look for without you giving away anything and either bolster what you found and know, suggest unnecessary repairs ($$$) or don't find anything wrong.

If the r&p unit is loose internally then wear and tear may have damaged it. Let a shop determine whether your suspicions are right or wrong.

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Old 03-09-2014, 08:40 AM   #15
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Default Re: Steering rack and pinion possible problem.

I finally put new tires on the car and had the alignment shop look at the rack and pinion, they said it does move but because it springs back into place and only moves with both wheels on the ground that's it's normal for vehicles with this kind of power steering system? Does this sound correct at all or should I seek out another shops opinion?

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Old 04-19-2015, 11:31 AM   #16
talonsaab
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2004 VUE 3.5L
Default Re: Steering rack and pinion possible problem.

I have been having some steering issues on my 04 Vue AWD. I thought it might be worn parts. With one wheel off the ground and trying to move the wheel left right, there is some play. It appears as if the steering rack is moving side to side, cross car a bit. Was wondering if there was some rubber bushings in the steering rack clamping that have worn or it good be inner tie rod joints. I need to get a closer look from underneith. The control arm, ball joints and outer tie rod looks ok.

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