The steering rack is a part of the steering system that includes the front axle and steering wheel, responsible for the wheel’s movement in response to the steering command. “Can a bad steering rack cause vibration?” The simple answer to this question is yes. A loose or broken steering rack will cause excessive vibration and shaking.
In this article, we will look at the implication of a bad steering rack on the drivability of the car, causes, fix, and also provide answers to some frequently asked questions relating to the steering rack.
A steering rack may be responsible for the vibration and shake in the steering wheel. Worn-out steering racks are the primary cause of this vibration or shake. The vibration will become apparent when you drive on rough roads and should always be addressed urgently.
You need to pay close attention to these signs as it is easy to mistake them for a bumpy road. As time passes, you will notice an increase in steering problems and vibration.
In addition, if the shaking is from the rack, it may be due to the steering box leaking or damaged steering rack and pinion. It may also mean something is wrong with the wheels, suspension, and more.
When you notice that your steering rack is shaking whenever you drive, the first thing you should do is find the cause. Below are the various reasons why your steering rack is shaking.
1. Loosened rack connection
Due to the system’s continuous handling of the shaking from the wheel, parts of the significant connection in the rack and pinion could get loosened. When this happens, you will experience a steering vibration when driving. It could also cause a steering column to shake, and if it is not taken care of immediately, it could cause a complete disconnect in the connection and, consequently, a failed steering system.
2. Suspension issue
The suspension could also be responsible for the vibration in the steering or rack. When the suspension fails, it could affect the tie rod ends and ball joints, which will cause them to shake and make noises. The tie rod and ball joint are part of the rack and pinion system, connecting the wheels to the steering. Once they are affected by the suspension, then the steering is affected. It means that once the suspension is bad and begins to vibrate or shake the tie rod and ball joint, the rack will vibrate, and the steering.
3. Wheels out of balance
If you have an unbalanced wheel, it could be the reason for the vibration in the steering wheel.When you drive with an unbalanced wheel, it will cause other parts of the wheel, suspension, and more to vibrate. When this happens, the steering system is affected. Since the rack and pinion are connected to the wheel, it will begin to vibrate and shake.
5. Crack rubber
The lines, hoses, and other steering system parts are made of rubber. It allows flexibility in the system, but it has its disadvantages. It can easily crack and damage. For example, if the steering rack boot is damaged, the steering system will begin to fail, and finally, this will cause rack vibration.
6. Brake problem
If you have a shaking steering or brake pedal, whenever you try to slow down or stop the vehicle, the brake system may be the problem. It could be that the brake pad is worn out or the hydraulic system is faulty.
Before you go on to fix the vibration in steering system, you must first figure out the causes of steering wheel vibration in your vehicle. Once you can figure out where the problem is coming from, it will be easier for you to fix it.
Below are ways to fix the steering wheel shaking issue.
1. Balance tires
If the problem of vibration in the steering or rack is due to an unbalanced wheel or unequal tire pressure, you need first to have a visual inspection of the tires. Search for missing weights, bent rims, and uneven tire tread wear. Once you can identify any fault in the wheels, you can take the wheel out and take it to a professional for balancing.
2. Change or fix the suspension
If the suspension is the cause of the problem, its extent will determine whether or not you will need to have it replaced. A problem as small as a loosening in the suspension will cause the steering to shake.
Inspect the suspension for loosened bolts, nuts, screws, and more. Ensure you check the upper and lower ball joints, tie rods, bushing, and more. If you see any loosening, wear, or other damages, ensure to fix it.
Also, check the shock mounts, springs, and struts for any damages, as they can also cause shaking in the steering. Replace or fix any problem you can find with them.
3. Fix the brake issue
If you feel the brake pad shake together with the steering when slowing down, examine the brake pad first and ensure it is not worn out. If the brake pad is worn out, then go ahead to replace the worn-out brake pad.
However, if the brake pad is not the problem, check the brake caliper or rotor for damages and fix it if you find one. You could take the vehicle to a professional for a better brake system diagnosis.
4. Replace Damaged steering Box
If you notice an impaired power steering box in your vehicle, repair or replace the rack without delay. Otherwise, you may face a completely damaged suspension or unwanted noise in your car while driving.
If the vibration results from a misalignment in the wheel, then alignment will fix the vibration problem. When not appropriately aligned, sometimes the wheels cause vibrations or shaking because the wheels are not balanced and are not placed in the same direction. You can quickly check if your vehicle’s wheel is aligned by checking the tire’s tread. If the trend is uneven, then it might have an alignment issue.
You can achieve wheel alignment by fixing the suspension components. If there is a suspension problem, it usually leads to misalignment of the wheels.
If you notice that your vehicle’s steering wheel vibrates when it reaches a speed of between 50 to 70 mph, it could result from unbalanced wheels. When the wheel speeds up above a certain level, the steering will begin to vibrate and may be difficult to control. At this level, you need to get the wheel fixed. You can remove the affected wheel and give it to a professional who will use tire-balancing equipment to put it back in shape.
When you notice that your steering is shaking or vibrating excessively, it could be caused by many things. Some may include alignment issues, unbalanced wheels, and brake system failure. When you notice this, you must avoid managing the problem. Find the source of the problem and fix it immediately.