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Checking steering-box mountings

Places where vital components are mounted on the bodywork or chassis should be inspected at least yearly. Read more

Checking steering-rack security

Most modern cars have rack-and-pinion steering gear , mounted across the car. Usually the rack housing is fixed to the front cross member or bulkhead. Read more

How to lubricate the steering system

Most modern cars have sealed for life joints in at least part of the steering system. These do not need maintenance, and are simply replaced when worn or damaged. Read more

Checking steering swivel pins

Steering swivel pins may wear out after a high mileage (60,000 plus), or sooner if they have not been properly lubricated. A badly worn joint is dangerous - not only does it make the steering wander, but it may suddenly fail altogether. Read more

Checking the steering box

A steering box check involves raising the front of the car but keeping its weight on the wheels, and getting underneath it while a helper turns the wheels a short way. Read more

Checking rack and pinion steering

Part of a steering rack check involves raising the front of the car but retaining its weight on its wheels. You must also get underneath the car while a helper turns the wheels to and fro. Unless you can gain access to a proper inspection pit you may have to use wheel ramps. Make sure they are resting on a level surface and directly under the wheels. Read more

Adjusting and replacing a power-steering drive belt

The belt that drives a power-steering hydraulic-fluid pump is usually at the front of the engine , turned by a pulley on the crankshaft . Read more

Replacing steering-rack gaiters

If a check of the rack gaiters reveals that the rubber is starting to crack, split or perish, replace the gaiter. Read more

Checking power-assisted steering

Check a power-steering system at least twice a year - more often if recommended by the car handbook, or if the steering becomes heavy or jerky. Read more

Lubricating steering swivel joints

Either or both of the upper and lower swivels may have grease nipples; ball joints have them on the housing. Read more

Setting the tracking

The front wheels on most cars are not set exactly parallel. Instead they point slightly in or slightly out at the front - known as toe-in or toe-out. The set of the wheels is called tracking . Read more

Refitting track rods and ball joints

Check that any parts you are not going to replace are undamaged before ordering replacements. Read more

Replacing other types of track rod

Separate the outer ball joint from the steering arm (See Replacing track-rod-end ball joints ). Read more

Replacing track-rod-end ball joints

Track-rod-end ball joints are not adjustable on later cars. If they wear, you must replace them. Read more

Checking steering joints for wear

The joints in a steering system all wear gradually and become slack. Because there are so many of them, and also because of the geometry of the system, a very small amount of play or looseness in the joints makes the whole system markedly sloppy and inaccurate. Read more

How the steering system works

The steering system converts the rotation of the steering wheel into a swivelling movement of the road wheels in such a way that the steering-wheel rim turns a long way to move the road wheels a short way. Read more