Your steering rack is, as its name would indicate, the part of your vehicle that attaches the steering wheel to the front tires. As such, while it is a small part of your car, it is an essential component, and any sort of malfunction can have a marked and dangerous effect on the performance of your car. Understanding what some of the more common warning signs of a bad steering rack are can help you determine when you should head to a mechanic to have your vehicle's steering system inspected.
1. Grinding While Turning
One of the clearest and most obvious signs that you may have an issue with your steering rack is if you notice that your steering wheel turns roughly while you are driving, especially if there is a grinding sensation or sound coming from the front wheels. This can be due to a few different things, which is why a professional inspection is the best course of action, but usually points to some sort of physical wear to the rack that is causing friction and pressure.
2. Pulling or Alignment Issues
Another common sign that your steering rack is damaged or otherwise not functioning properly is if you find that you have to fight to get your steering wheel to return to its middle, straight position. This can also take the form of your vehicle pulling to one side of the road or another while you are driving, forcing you to constantly adjust to avoid veering into other vehicles or obstacles.
Sometimes, this can be an issue with the alignment of your tires themselves, but if you've just had your tires checked up and there are no alignment issues, your steering rack is definitely to blame and will need to be replaced or repaired quickly to ensure that you are able to operate your vehicle safely.
3. Leaking Fluid
Finally, one last thing that you should look out for are any signs of fluid leaks underneath your vehicle. Your steering rack requires power steering fluid to create enough pressure to move the tires with the steering wheel. Check the owner's manual to determine where the reservoir is located – usually on the driver's side of the engine compartment – and check the dipstick to see if you need to refill the fluid. If you find that the level of fluid is consistently low, or you locate fluid underneath your vehicle, you should have a mechanic inspect your system to determine if there are any broken hoses or other leaks within your steering system.
For more information, contact your local auto repair service.