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-   -   steering rack and tie rod problem (http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=962866)

zaki82 12-28-2012 08:45 PM

steering rack and tie rod problem
today I went to have a alignment service in my ex-mechanic-shop so after few hours they come to my work place telling me that I have a steering rack problem and the tie rodes are mess up and the steering rack and inner tie rod are one piece which my friend( genius who does all the work on my car now) is suspecting that he said that steering rack is separated part its called the ties rod assembly and you can change those without changing the steering rack. the shop estimation is around 1100$. however my friend estimate all the job around 300 t0 400$ knowing that it is possible to get cheap tie rodes ( min 30 each-max bmw 120$) so what u guys think?:P

dslboomer 12-28-2012 08:54 PM

Check this out. Price depends on the brand. The shop is lying. There is replaceable inner tie rod.


scim459 12-28-2012 09:03 PM

ship is definitely lying.

you can buy a rebuilt rack from rackdoctor.net with a lifetime warranty.

also the tierods do come in two pieces but you might as well replace the inner and outer at the same time.

fcpeuro has lemfoerder tierods for the cheapest. 69 bucks. also has karlyn cheap ones for 26. they have free shipping over 25 and its fast. only a couple days

also here is a video showing how to do the tierods.

zaki82 12-28-2012 09:33 PM

what could be the causes of the play beside the steering rack and tie rods?

ryannel2003 12-28-2012 09:49 PM

A worn steering coupler can also cause steering play and on center looseness. Replacing mine on Sunday.

scim459 12-28-2012 09:55 PM

lower u joint in the steering column
control arms
control arm bushings.

i had some play in mine and it was my control arm bushings. i also replaced my steering coupler and i thought that tightened up my steering but it really was just my steering column itself being messed with when i took off the steering coupler. my column itself has some play and im just gonna live with it because i dont feel like replacing it.

always-there 12-28-2012 10:24 PM

You need to clarify what you're question is. Is your steering rack good or bad? And are you replacing it? Or just tie-rods?

zaki82 12-28-2012 10:39 PM

I just put a new hd arm control and myle bushings plus new hawks and Textar brake and pads front and rear a month ago so suspension is good the car is pushing to left I thought it only needs an aligment service by my ex shop surprised me with an estimation around 1200$ doesn't seem right to me cuz if I change steering rack (BMW genie) costs almost 1400$ I don't think anyone had changed before it might be more logical if it was only the tie rod assembly or coupler steering but steering rack.... For small play and lit pushing to the left no sense ....

scim459 12-28-2012 10:50 PM

well if you go with a rack doctor rack they come with inner tie rods so youd just have to buy outter and the tie rod boots. or just reuse your old ones.

or what seems more logical like you said is just the tierods. id try swapping those out first unless they can prove to you why your rack is bad.

TitaniumCranium 12-29-2012 12:59 AM

  1. Put the car up on jack-stands
  2. Climb under the car with very good lighting
  3. Look up at the steering guibo (coupler)
  4. Have a friend move the steering wheel back and forth
  5. If necessary have another friend apply pressure to one of the wheels while you do this
  6. Notice any play before and after the guibo, if more movement before than after then replace the quibo
  7. If you hear a knock on one end of the steering rack that is probably a bad inner tie rod ball joint
If you do need the tie rod assemblies you can buy Lemforder tie rod sets (OEM), inner and outer on Amazon very inexpensively and if you have Amazon Prime the shipping is 2nd day free. I can verify these are the correct parts. I just did this job 2 weeks ago. The entire job from the time I put it on jack-stand to removing them took about an hour and a half, motivated to get done by 35* temps. :)
Left tie rod assembly - 32106777503
Right tie rod assembly - 32106777504

vandyboy 12-29-2012 08:51 AM

Been down the steering rack road with a Volvo 240 and my E30. In both cases, I did not replace until I had leaks from the rack. Does that same rule (leaking fluid) apply to the E46?

zaki82 12-29-2012 02:40 PM

actually there is no leak in my car so idk why they suggested steering rack replacement it seems like it has the same value as transmission for an e46 so if it fails its really bad...I know my car had very small play and its pushing to left I feel bad about it cuz i replaced the suspension package twice in year and I was really excited because my car would never shake or play with new hawk/ textar brake roters set. but here we go the play is still here and the problem is very complicated according to my ex-shop and less simple with my genuis friends solutions( changing the ties rodes only).

tatboy 12-30-2012 08:41 PM

If your interested in reading the issue I had with my steering rack - feel free


There's photos and a close up of the steering "guibo" that you most likely will have to replace if your issue is LOOSE steering.

If your rack isnt leaking, chances are it's still good. Just make certain it's bled properly (instructions are within the above link)

In the end (with my issue), (after replacing the power steering pump, rack & outer tie rod ends) it ended up being the "u-joint" on the steering column itself (the joint thats ABOVE the steering "guibo"). It was just in need of lubrication/replacement. But my issue was that it was very difficult to turn my steering wheel and the steering wheel wouldnt come back to center after making a hard turn, without a great deal of manual assistance.

If you can try to explain to us SPECIFICALLY what your subjective complaints are, we'd be better able to pinpoint the issue.

If you have to replace your rack, you can do the entire job for under $300 yourself (remanufactured rack + new tie rod ends)

The steering guibo and U-joint on telescopic shaft would set you back around $200 to replace both parts.

The cheapest place I found to order the guibo and U-joint were on a site called drive wire dot com

The rack I got at my local Advanced Auto and it was here within 2 days. Cost around $229 and it was a remanufactured BMW rack identical to my own - not an after market special. Much easier to return the old one and get your core fee back, when your doing so at your local store versus mailing the beast back and waiting weeks for a credit.

Let me know how you make out.

lmr2wil 12-30-2012 09:01 PM

OP - I wonder if the shop tried to set the alignment but couldn't separate the inner and outer tie-rods due to corrosion - thereby making it impossible to set toe-in. Then, unaware that the rack boots could be removed and the tie-rods replaced separately from the rack, suggested the replacement? This would indicate a complete lack of knowledge of the car, but not malicious intent.

In any event, you need to figure out why they felt the rack is bad. Then assess whether or not their reasoning is sound in regards to replacement. If it was simply that they couldn't set the toe, then replace the tie-rods. If it was something more serious, you may want to get another opinion (or at least another estimate).

Good luck!


2003silver330i 12-30-2012 09:49 PM

Op...does your steering wheel have like 1-2 inches of play before the front wheels grab/move?

zaki82 12-30-2012 10:47 PM

There is a little play that a stranger can't even feel it but the main problem is that car is pushing to the left for example if ur driving on the highway and u let the car driven but itself it goes toward the left so bad that's why I thought it's an alignment problem until that shop told me that I have a steering rack issues and I have to replace it with the inner and outer tie rods beside that there is no major problem on the cari know that there is more than just the steering rack set that is related to steering issues like coupler but all what I'm sure about is my suspension and brakes and pads they r brand new...

RayPooley 12-31-2012 04:19 AM


Originally Posted by zaki82 (Post 15014709)
what could be the causes of the play beside the steering rack and tie rods?

Just normal wear and tear.

RayPooley 12-31-2012 04:20 AM


Originally Posted by 2003silver330i (Post 15018981)
Op...does your steering wheel have like 1-2 inches of play before the front wheels grab/move?


WDE46 12-31-2012 12:36 PM

You should just replace the following:

1. Front control arms
2. front control arm bushings
3. tierods (inner and outer bought together, use lemforder)
4. tierod boots (the rubber covers)
5. steering guibo

It'll cost you about $400 in parts. If this doesn't solve it, then you may have a steering rack issue, but it could still be front strut mounts that have gone bad. Fortunately, you can get a remanufactured steering rack for about $200. You don't need to get a brand new $1200 steering rack. Also, go to a new mechanic. These guys are trying to screw you for parts/labor.

dmax 12-31-2012 01:33 PM

OP, I'd just suggest you find another shop that is well recommended for an alignment.

Most roads are crested, so the car will pull down hill...so make sure your sensation of pulling to the left factors in what side of the crest you're on...try the 3 lanes of a highway. Not arguing...just making sure you're not fixing something that isn't broken.

Most shops can unfreeze tierods if they really want to...they just need knowhow and motivation. But, they do seize together. You can get a new boot kit or just a new screwclamp (I think OE is factory hose clamps...not easy to get apart and together without a special tool).

If you do need tierods, you could do this yourself and then get an alignment afterwards...save some money. When removing upper tie rod from steering rack, make sure there isn't fluid leaking into it...that would be the racks seals...otherwise, turn the wheel so the upper joint is as close to the rack as you can get so it stabilizes that joint better.

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