I have had a leaky rack for about two years now. This past winter I have been driving a Prelude to keep the Eclipse nice. I think it just sitting there all winter finally killed the seals because it was starting to leak about 1 quart per week.
So now I have decided to try rebuilding it myself.
I've been putting off this project for a while because new racks cost $854 and rebuild run around $300. Plus it's a pain in the a$$. Well I finally came across Auto Parts Fast at RockAuto
. They sell the complete seal kit for $119. I couldn't find anyone else that sells the kit, but you can try reference the part numbers from their site and try for yourself. Their service was good and I got the parts at my door 3 days after I placed the order.
Tools/Parts/etc You'll Need
Probably everything you've got and then some
Seal kit (obviously) and some new dust boots
Workbench with vice
Many various sockets, wrenches, and screwdrivers
Plenty of rags
Brake parts cleaner
Before we start, for reference you can view many more pics of the project at...
Eclipse pictures by ehues - Photobucket
I have included numbers next to some of the steps, which represent the last 3 digits of the photo names on photobucket to make it easier for you to corrolate the photos to the steps listed.
Steps and Procedures
First thing to do is safely get the car up on a lift or on jackstands as high as you can and pull the front wheels. Also disconnect the negative battery cable. Here you can see my leaky rack.
Remove cotter pin from tie rod end pop out tie rod. (pic 410)
Disconnect 14mm on swaybars at the end links. (pic 412)
Remove two stabilzer plates. (pics 413/414)
Unbolt curved lower control arms from body. (pics 415/416)
Seal Kit Auto Parts Fast at RockAuto
$119 boots separately. ( pics 418/419/420)
Use ATF fluid for rack. (pic 421)
Disconnect U-brackets from subframe holding on swaybar take out locking bolt from spline on pinion that connects the steering column (pics 423/424)
Remove the downpipe and transfer case. It makes everything much easy to get to including lines that need disconnected on rack, spline from steering column etc. (pics 440/438/439)
Loosen 4 bolts connecting rack housing to the body up near spline shaft on pinion there are 2 lines. Take off the clamp and the soft line on the rear and unbolt the hard line in front.
The soft line has to come off for there to be enough room to slide the rack pinion housing out of the opening. You may have to unbolt the brake fluid reservoir to get room to reach the lines from up top, but I had better luck from below with the transfer case removed (pics 425/428/431)
My Chilton manual says to remove the a/c compressor (Haha! No way. Work around it)
Disassembly and Rebuild
PS rack gear assembly is out. (pics 435/437)
Thoroughly clean rack before laying it out on a bench. A vice is almost a necessity here. Make sure your bench is large enough to lay out the disassembled rack so you don't lose track of where the pieces go. Also I would reccomend giving the rack a good cleaning before you start to get most of the oil and dirt off so none of it gets inside of your rack while you are completing your reseal. This dirt and dirty fluid is what probably caused the rack to leak in the first place. You’ll also want to make sure the lines and the reservoir in the car are clean or flushed out. Replace your boots if they are torn or oil soaked. You do not want any dirt making it’s way back to the seals.
Now we can starting tearing down the rack. Be very CAREFUL with it and working around it. If you scratch or gouge the internals, it may not seal properly and your rack will STILL LEAK (pics 441/442)
Remove the inner tie rods by tearing off the boots (assuming you’re using new ones here) and tapping back the stops. Remember which side of the rack each tie rod goes on. I'm not going to go into any detail on this because Wret has already written a good tech article on it. (pic 451)
Unscrew these two lines at the pinion gear housing. I had to use vice grips and a torch to get one of them out. The are the 17mm lines. Note the small O-rings on the end of the flared lines. Remember to replace these. (pic 443)
Unscrew the tensioner for the rack. I couldn’t find a hex key that big, so I used a nut I found at Home Depot and was able to grab half of it with a wrench. Also, it may be easier to first try to loosen the square stop around the tensioner. Pull out the spring and the bearing. (pic 444)
On this end we will need to remove this stop. If you have a spanner wrench use it. I just used a screwdriver to tap it loose and was then able to spin it by putting the ends of some needle nose pliers in two of the holes. This stop is not threaded, it is held in by a retainer that goes the entire way around it. You can remove it by spinning the stop until you see the end of the clip through the slot (pic 471) and then pulling it out as you spin the stop with you needle nose pliers.
Push the rack the entire way in on the side you are working on to prevent you from slipping and scratching it. (pics447/448)
Remove the pinion gear housing by unbolting the two 12mm bolts and sliding it off. Unscrew the plug on the opposite end of the pinion spline and unscrew the retaining nut. (pic 454)
Now you can carefully pop out the pinion assembly. This part has 5 seals that we will be replacing. It will be easier to work on and clean if you further disassemble this piece. There is a circlip holding down the body with the seals. (pic 453)
Slowly pull out the rack from the side we had removed the stop from. There is a piece on the end with an O-ring. Note its orientation on the rack.
Now one part at a time we can remove the seals, clean the part (I used brake parts cleaner), install the new seal/s and set the part aside where it will not get dirty or scratched. The wiper seals can be a pain to get out. I had to carefully tap mine out with a hammer and screwdriver. When replacing these, make sure the part is clean and coat it and the new seal in some ATF to ease the installation of the new seal. I used a evenly sized socket to tap the seal back in evenly. (pics 496/497/500)
Here are all the old parts and seals that get removed. (pic 492)
These blue seals aren’t elastic at all. They almost seem like some type of gasket material. Be very careful sliding these on making sure not to twist or tear them. You pretty much have to cut the old ones off and you don’t have any extra. (pic 496)
There is another of those gasket-like seals on the rack. Be careful with this one as well. Also make sure you replace the O-ring that is hidden underneath it. (pic 480)
Put the rack back together making sure each part is thoroughly cleaned. Carefully slide the rack back into its housing and install the stop with the retaining pin. Then insert the pinion gear, tighten it down and reinstall the pinion housing and screw the lines back in with their new o-rings. Then you can finish buttoning it up by reinstalling the tensioner.
That should be it. Your rack should be ready to reinstall. Do not forget to reconnect your steering column to the splined pinion while you are positioning and tightening down the rack. If you forgot, you would have to loosen the rack and drop it down some to try to slide it on.
Enjoy your like new, leak free rack for about $150.
This is what you have to do to actually center the rack itself in the housing so the wheels will have an equal amount of turns to each lock.
-Make sure the negative terminal on the battery is disconnected. When you put the rack back on the car, you will have to get the splines from the steering column to slide down into the pinion housing on the rack assembly. While you are maneuvering that spline back in do not worry about the steering wheel position. We will adjust that later.
-Once you have the steering housing bolted into the car and the pinion gear spline is in we can move to the next step: What you do now is make sure an equal amount of the steering rack is coming out each side of the housing. The best way to do this is after you rebuild your rack do not put the inner tie rod ends or the rubber boot dust covers on yet. This way you can still see the ends of the rack to measure each side for an equal amount of protrusion from each end of the housing. Now you will want to take the steering wheel off. Don't worry, it's easy. There are 4 nuts on the back of the steering wheel holding the airbag on. We are taking the airbag off and this is why the battery must be disconnected. For safety and so you don't get a permanent SRS light on your dash that only the dealer can remove. Take the nuts off and pull the airbag off disconnecting the airbag plug and the horn. Now the only thing holding the wheel on is the center bolt. Remove it and pull off the wheel. You may have to hit it with your fist from behind a few times to pop it off if you don't have a puller you can use. Get under the car again and make sure the rack is still centered. Now you can reinstall/re-clock the steering wheel centered on the column. Make sure you do not over tighten the center nut, it will strip. I think it is 22 ft/lbs. but I'm not certain. Make sure you hook the airbag back up before reconnecting the battery.
-So now you have the wheel straight or very close to it and the rack is still centered. Now you can reinstall the inner tie rod ends and rubber dust covers. Then reinstall the outer tie rod ends and try to get the wheels eyeballed fairly straight ahead by adjusting them.
-Now you can take it to the alignment shop and have them reset the toe to spec via the outer tie rod ends without having to worry about them trying to re-center the steering wheel or even worse yet just leaving the steering wheel crooked and them centering it with the tie rods leaving you with uneven lock-to-lock turns from center.
EDIT: I just want to give an update. After more than 3 years, there are no signs of leaks and everything in the steering feels great. Just like new.