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Author Topic: Notes from replacing my FWD steering rack...  (Read 576 times)
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Bill Salina
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2003 Gold FWD Aztek - aka "The Warthog"


« on: July 27, 2019, 02:26:38 PM »

Just finished this on my 2003 Aztek with FWD... (AWD uses a different rack and procedure)

OMG, what a pain!

Some things to know...

1.  IMPORTANT!  CENTER AND LOCK THE STEERING WHEEL.  Don't unlock it until you have installed the new rack.

2. The steering column intermediate shaft has to be disconnected on the rack end (you must remove the (11mm) pinch bolt completely), and the steering column end (under the dash board) (13mm bolt and 15mm nut).  Not as easy as you would imagine because there are thick rubber boots on both ends that will fight you to the death! LOL   I found it really helpful to remove the drivers seat (two electrical connectors - one black, one yellow) when working under the dash.  Seat is held in by four 18mm nuts.  Once the seat is removed, you can lay on your back to get at that top steering linkage bolt. (place your carpet mat over the seat bolts to prevent them from digging into your back).  Under dash cover pulls off (straight down) exposing the steering column.

3.  Once the fluid lines (18mm tubing wrench or crows feet) have been disconnected (caution, fluid will drain down on you!), the outer tie rod ends are disconnected (and removed from the old rack), the stabilizer links and sway bar have been removed, and the two rack to frame bolts (and nuts) have been removed, you will need to remove the two (engine/front suspension) frame bolts and lower the back end of the front frame down about a foot to get the rack out.  I found that supporting the sub-frame just forward of the drivers side bolt worked fine (only had to support it on one side). 

4. I replaced both outer tie rod ends with new ones from Moog.  They came with grease fittings and new tie rod jam nuts.

5. At the time of this writing, RockAuto.com had the absolute best price for the rack.  I went with a Cardone 22-164 (rebuilt) for $119 + $8 tax and $8 shipping (2 day) and NO CORE charge.  Autozone had the same rack for $175 with a $64 core charge and AdvanceAuto had the same rack for $175 with a $196 core charge.  The rack came clean with a black paint finish, new bellows and seals and included 2 new o-rings for the fluid connectors.  It also came with a new rubber mount for the passenger side mounting bolt (I used my old one).  The rack did not include jam nuts, so save your old ones.  You may get new ones if you change the outer tie rod ends.

6.  Pay attention to the orientation (or mark it) of the sway bar.  When putting things back together, make sure you install it BEFORE installing the outer tie rod ends.

7.  I installed new stabilizer links.  Got them for the unbelievable price of $2.67 for *both* sides on Amazon (with free prime shipping!)  Everything came in one box as a kit.  ACDelco 46G0114A (genuine GM 88876393) Advantage Front Suspension Stabilizer Bar Link Kit with Hardware.

The hardest parts of this job were getting at the two 18mm fluid line fittings, and removing the top and bottom intermediate shaft bolts. 

I'll have the toe in adjusted next week when I have my new tires installed.  Good enough for the limited amount of travel that I'll be doing this week.

I'm posting this in the hope of helping anyone else who has to do this job.  Shops get anywhere from $600 to $1,200 to replace the rack.  It cost me about $140 to do it myself.  I almost paid to have someone else do it (it has been hot as the sun here lately!), but I'm glad I did it myself.

Side Note...

My rack started leaking back in 2012 on a trip to NY (I live in Atlanta).  I put Valvoline power steering fluid with stop leak in it, and that worked great for 7 years (and about 60K miles).  Every once in a while I had to add a little.  Hats off to Valvoline for that fluid!













 
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Bill (aka Bird Dog)
2003 Gold FWD Aztek "The Warthog"
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