Steering Rack Removal

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You've decided to remove the steering rack? Well firstly I'd have to ask why as it is a fairly major undertaking for the home mechanic not owing to the complexity, but owing to the access without a 4-post lift. But if it has to come off, then so be it:

Removal Instructions

Warning.png You must support the car with safety-certified axle stands when working underneath

Park the car on a flat paved surface and prepare to get it as high as you can at the front. I achieved this by driving it up ramps at the back, then jacking the front.

You will be removing the cross member, hence access will be required to the bolts and the normal raft supporting points become mobile once the cross member is removed. The best way is to jack from the raft lifting point, then support with the normal body lifting points. It needs to be secure as it is likely that many of the bolts will be very tight.

Remove Cross Member

Cross Member

This is covered in the starter motor section of the electrical manual. The item you are removing is pictured to the right.

Once I had removed the crossmember I removed the exhaust as it was being replaced anyway. I'm uncertain as to whether it is necessary but it certainly improves the access.

Disconnect Steering Column

Dive head first into the driver's footwell and first remove the two bolts securing the plate at the base of the sterring column to the bulkhead. Then undo the pinch bolt on the UJ at the base of the steering column. At this point the manual suggests that you undo the lower UJ from inside the car. I found this impossible so I didn't.

Disconnect Track Rod Ends

Having removed the roadwheels, split the track rod end ball joints. If you have trouble undoing the nut because the taper is rotating, don't fret; rejoice as this means the joint will split easily. Simply squeeze it together with a g-clamp and the friction will be sufficient to undo the nut. Once the nuts are off, tap the end of the taper with a rubber hammer or use a ball joint splitter.

Replacement track rod ends are Vauxhall Vectra / Carlton and are commonly available in the UK.

Accessing Hydraulic Pipes

The hydraulic pipes from the pump/reservoir attach to the rack in a very awkward spot. To access the unions (which will probably be seized), you need to lower the right-hand suspension raft. This sounds like a nightmare, but actually isn't too bad:

  1. Undo anti-roll bar ball joint and separate.
  2. Remove bolt securing the ARB ball joint and suspension strut to the lower wishbone.
  3. Undo the three nuts securing the suspension strut-top to the chassis, accessed under the grommets in the engine bay.
  4. Undo the four clamping bolts holding the shock absorber to the two halves of the yoke that connects it to the wishbone.
  5. You should now be able to carefully remove the shock absorber/spring as a complete unit by wiggling it downwards. At some point in here you will probably have to remove the wheel arch liner. Mine was already out, so I don't know what access it affects.
  6. Securely wire the upper wishbones to some part of the chassis above. Use wire that is shorter than the brake hose, but allows the suspension assembly to move around.
  7. Undo the bolt connecting the tubular steadying arm to the chassis attachment point.
  8. Undo the bolt that secures the suspension raft to the chassis at the top. It is the one that clamps through two large plates.
  9. Lower raft gently downwards allowing the weight to settle on the wires you fitted in step (f).
  10. Ensure the brake hose is unaffected.

Removing Hydraulic Pipes

You should now be able to see the various hydraulic lines connecting to the rack. You need to remove the two larger diameter pipes that route upwards rather than the smaller ones that disappear along the rack body. Clean the area around the unions with a wire brush, compressed air, gunk etc until you can get some WD-40 or similar into the union threads. I couldn't find a metric spanner to fit either union, so I ended up using an adjustable which wasn't ideal as the size of the jaws limited the amount I could turn the union on each flat. I'm guessing they are imperial as the cross-reference for the part is Land Rover! Pre-position a drip-tray of some description to catch the PAS fluid, then start with the lower union and remove them both. The flex in the hoses higher up is sufficient to pull them clear of the rack body with some effort.

Rack Removal

You will now have great access to the rack area

Undo the extremely tight rack-chassis mounting bolts. The bolt at the gearbox side gets trapped against the gearbox when fully undone so don't use a ring spanner on it or you won't get it back until the rack drops clear. From the driver's side, lower the pinion out of the aperture that leads to the steering column and slide clear. I found it easier to work from the driver's side and lower, then pull towards me. This could be done in a single garage, withdrawing the rack to the driver's side. I found that the gearbox end bolt fell clear from the trapped position at this stage.

Info non-talk.png The access now available underneath is unsurpassed without engine removal. Use this opportunity to recondition the starter, waxoyl the chassis, change the oil etc etc etc. You will never again be able to get in as easily as this!

Refitting Instructions

Rack fitted

Refitting is the reverse of removal however note the following:

  1. Install the intermediate shaft onto the new rack to avoid having to do it through the driver's footwell. There is a specific orientation for the shaft to aid steering feel which is detailed in the manual. If the lower UJ is at all stiff or has play, then replace it. It is the same as many Land Rovers and cross referenced here: [1]
  2. You may wish to shorten one of the rack-chassis bolts very slightly to allow it to be refitted next to the gearbox. Otherwise it is almost impossible to reinstall it.
  3. Thoroughly clean the PAS hydraulic pipes and leave the blanks in place until the last minute to avoid dirt ingress.
  4. Use threadlock on all bolts and tighten to the correct torque: 120nm for the rack-chassis bolts.
  5. Refitting the raft is easiest with either an assistant or a hydraulic jack to carefully lift it into position. Then refit the bolt with threadlock and tighten to xxx nm.