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E46 Xi Forum
The E46 XI was produced from 01-05 in sedan and touring body styles. Powered by either a 2.5L inline 6 in the 325xi or a 3.0L inline 6 330xi. Discuss all thing about BMW AWD E46 'Xi' here.

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Old 04-08-2018, 11:29 PM   #1
bimmerman11
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Replacing Steering Rack

Hey everyone.

I need to replace my steering rack ASAP and I plan on ordering all necessary parts for this job but am having trouble searching on the forums, particularly focusing my search on the XI subforum. So I apologize in advance for not being able to search. I've been a member here for 15 years and never had this search problem before.

If you have experience with replacing the steering rack and pinion, tie rods, etc. please educate me on what I should buy.

It looks like Rack Doctor has the best price at the moment for the xi rack and pinion. Should I look somewhere else? I also plan on buying new tie rods. Also, FCP Euro has a Steering Overhaul kit but I'm not sure if those parts are necessary:

https://www.fcpeuro.com/products/bmw...30xi-e46pskit3

Are there any other parts that I am forgetting and should be replaced while my mechanic is in there?

Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.
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Old 04-09-2018, 08:00 AM   #2
Rickna
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Year: 2002
Model: 330xi
Transmission: AT
I too am looking a replacing my steering rack, and I have not found info for the job on an xi. Rack Dr includes tie rods. Other parts I can think of would be soft lines and washers.
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Old 04-21-2018, 01:58 PM   #3
WilloCO
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It's not terrible, but you'll want to do at least a partial drop of the subframe. You'll need an engine support bar (some guys use a 2x4) to hold the block up.
You need crush washers, possibly new mounting bolts if you screw them up, clamp crimpers to install the boots over the ends after install. A tape measure to get alignment close to before. (you need an alignment after this work, diy or otherwise)
You don't have to remove the tie rod ends, but it's a good time since you're doing half the work already.

I'm swapping mine out once parts show up - good time to go Z3 rack.
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Old 11-07-2018, 07:19 AM   #4
tttomttt
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Hello,
I saw this thread the other day and I was wondering if you ever completed the job.
I have a torn drivers side steering rack boot and I noticed drips of oil on the actuator shaft inside the boot. I was contemplating rebuilding my own rack as there is a seal kit made by Gates specifically for our model. As far as the subframe drop the Bentley states for us the support the front of the subframe with an appropriate jack or shop hoist, detach subframe from engine and lower approximately 20mm (3/4").
Is that in fact it? No other subframe bolts need to be loosened or removed?
Any help on this would be greatly appreciated as there is limited info on replacing the steering rack on an XI
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Old 11-07-2018, 10:24 AM   #5
WilloCO
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It's pretty easy to remove and reinstall - even if it's annoying.

Buy a paint pen so you can mark the rack position. There should be a plastic fin on the input shaft that helps but new racks don't always come with them.
Get some nitrile gloves and disposable towels. The fluid is slick and annoying.

Center the steering. This is important. Lock the wheel in place for now.
Jack Stands!
Pull both front wheels.
Disco the lines and drain fluid.
Disco the steering ball joints, disco the sway bar links so you can rotate it out of the way.
I suggest getting a ball joint tool for this. I also suggest keeping them attached to the rack so you can measure the rack out of the car.
Disco the steering guibo/flex joint. You may need to unlock the wheel to access the torx head bolt in the joint.
You want to remove the bolt on the rack side of the joint.
I just used a socket extension and socket. Once it's loose you're good. With the bolt out, relock the steering wheel.
You do not want it to rotate when you disconnect things. The traction control reads the angle...
Mark the joint and the rack for good measure with your handy paint pen.
Now you'll want to push the joint up off the rack. Sometimes this is easy, sometimes not. (This is actually the hardest part.)
You can use a prybar or long screw driver to push against the bottom of the joint. I use a deadblow hammer to help it a bit.
Be careful you do not want to shatter bearings/races inside the rack doing this.
Before you get it off completely, you may want to mark the input shaft with your pen.
The steering shaft telescopes enough to let the joint slide off the rack.
Finally...
Remove the two mount bolts for the steering rack.
Pop the rack out of the mount points. Then work it toward the drivers side.
You'll need to rotate the rack a bit to get it out this way, but it'll clear.
Just push the sway bar down out of the way (you disco'd both sides to allow this)
And you'll get the rack out. The hardest part is getting the input shaft out, after that it's easy but requires just a bit more rotating to clear.

Tips:
Measure the rack a couple of times. A good way is to pop the boots off the rack and measure the joint to the rack body on each side.
Measuring the total length is sort of a pain, you'll see what I mean.

When you reassemble you want the same distance from ball joint to rack end that you had before. It'll probably be off and it'll probably piss off the traction control system. I've had good luck adjusting these in my garage to make them non-angry but an alignment won't break the bank either! You want the rack position to be the same and using the rack body to ball joint measurements will help.

I do suggest an alignment after this, but it's up to you.
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Quote:
I bedded my pads when I switched from ceramic to my PDF-Z pads. They actually caught fire during bed in.
05 330xi 6 speed
RIP: 86 e30 w/E36 M3 suspension build

Last edited by WilloCO; 11-07-2018 at 10:25 AM.
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Old 11-07-2018, 12:12 PM   #6
tttomttt
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thanks for responding. what about the subframe lowering because it is an XI?
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Old 11-07-2018, 12:23 PM   #7
WilloCO
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You don't need to touch the subframe bolts if you follow the instructions I wrote up.
I did it a few times while I was experimenting.
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Quote:
I bedded my pads when I switched from ceramic to my PDF-Z pads. They actually caught fire during bed in.
05 330xi 6 speed
RIP: 86 e30 w/E36 M3 suspension build

Last edited by WilloCO; 11-07-2018 at 12:23 PM.
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Old 11-07-2018, 12:26 PM   #8
Rickna
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Year: 2002
Model: 330xi
Transmission: AT
Quote:
Originally Posted by WilloCO View Post
You don't need to touch the subframe bolts if you follow the instructions I wrote up.
I did it a few times while I was experimenting.
Thank you for the write up. That lessens a nightmare into a bad dream...LoL
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Old 11-07-2018, 01:43 PM   #9
WilloCO
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Almost forgot: I do suggest pulling the air intake so you can see down from the top. It's helpful when wrestling with the lines and the u-joint.
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Quote:
I bedded my pads when I switched from ceramic to my PDF-Z pads. They actually caught fire during bed in.
05 330xi 6 speed
RIP: 86 e30 w/E36 M3 suspension build
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Old 11-07-2018, 04:36 PM   #10
tttomttt
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WilloCo,
Nice. Thanks for looking out.

Last edited by tttomttt; 11-07-2018 at 04:38 PM.
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Old 06-04-2019, 08:12 PM   #11
soedesh
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My Ride: '04 325xi
Year: 2004
Model: 325xi
Transmission: Automatic
Quote:
Originally Posted by WilloCO View Post
You don't need to touch the subframe bolts if you follow the instructions I wrote up.
I did it a few times while I was experimenting.
I tried this approach with a 325xi, and I believe it is impossible on that car to remove the steering rack without lowering the subframe. I did try twisting and turning the rack to no avail. So, I decided to follow the manual and lower the subframe slightly (about an inch). I could not really find any instructions for doing that, so here is what I did:
  • support the engine from the top using an engine support brace purchased at harbor freight. Attach to the engine lifting point on the front of the motor and take up the slack and lift slightly.
  • loosen the bolts on the bottoms of the motor mounts. Two torx screws on the passenger side, one 16mm nut on the drivers side.
  • loosen the two rear bolts on the subframe about two turns
  • support the front of the subframe on the jack point with a floor jack
  • loosen the two front subframe bolts about an inch. They did not need to be removed.
  • lower the floor jack to lower the subframe about an inch.

At this point I was able to pull the steering rack out as WilloCo says. Note that when reassembling with the rebuilt steering rack, I found it easier to mount the rack and attach the power steering line banjo fittings before I raised the subframe back up. Over all, not as hard as I thought it would be.
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