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Another Steering Rack How-to

Replace Power Steering Rack
From: Richard Golen
Model/Type:  Vanagon with Power Steering

What follows is a "how
to" explanation for those who need to replace their P/S rack in the
future. Please feel free to make comments, changes, corrections, etc...

TOOLS: lug wrench, 13/15 mm box wrench; 13 mm 6 point 3/8 socket,
ratchet, various extensions; 17/19 mm box and open ended wrenches, 19
mm 1/2 drive socket and rachet and extension; 22/24 mm open end
wrench or metric adjustable wrench; flat blade screw driver; floor
jack and jack stands; small amount of dish detergent, lithium spray
grease; large piece of cardboard to lay down on; penetrating oil; 3
to 4 quarts Dexron auto trans fluid; 10 mm 3/8 socket; medium sized
phillips head screwdriver, paper towels; sandwich baggies; ball peen
hammer, 3/8 chisel

PARTS: New or rebuilt steering rack; new tie rod ends (highly
recommended); 4 mounting bushings

Take your time with this, it can be up to a 6 hour job. Remember,
your steering rack may be original equipment and the nuts and bolts
probably were last touched by human hands and wrenches for over 20
years. I decided to do the work in two steps - remove the rack early
evening. Put new rack in the next morning. If you have the time, you
might want to try this way. The downtime in between removal and
replacement reduces stress!!!

Perhaps 24 hours or more before removing the rack, spray all nuts,
bolts, fittings with lots of penetrating oil.

Jack up the front end of the van and set up jack stands under the
cross members that the stock VW jack plugs into. Remove the wheels
(it may help to break the lug nuts prior to jacking up the front
end). Remove the spare tire as well. Next remove the windshield
washer reservoir (10 mm bolts). You might have to snip the hose from
the pump as the hose has probably shrunk with age. Jam a phillips
head screwdriver into the hose to open it up to ease its replacement
onto the pump later. Leave the screwdriver there.

Once you remove the reservoir, you will notice a rubber disk coupler
on the steering shafts. Remove them using 13 mm socket/wrench and 13
mm box wrench. Next crawl over to the steering rack and remove the
power steering lines. First remove the 19mm coupler and then the 22
mm coupler. Gently move the lines out of the way.

Next remove the 13 mm bolt/nut on the universal joint that attaches
the steering shaft to the steering rack. Use the 3/8 chisel to spread
apart the joint and gently tap the joint off of the splines from the
rack. You will need to move the opposite end of the shaft toward the
center of the van so that you have clearance as the shaft moves forward.

Now take the 19mm 1/2 socket and wrench and remove the tie rod end
nuts. Using the hammer, hit the steering arm below the tie rod end.
This should cause the tie rod end to pop out. If not, hit it a few
more times. If this doesn't do the trick, put the nut back onto the
tie rod end upside down, and tighten the nut until it is flush with
the end of the tie rod end shaft. Hit the nut upwards. This should
pop the end, if not try a combination of hitting the steering arm and
the bottom of the tie rod. If this doesn't work head to AutoZone and
rent a tie rod tool.

Next remove the four bolts that hold the steering rack to the
chassis. The lower bolts are fairly easy to remove. The upper ones
will require an extension on the socket/wrench.

Once you have removed the 4 mounting bolts, you can remove the steering rack.

Go inside, have a beer, relax, go to bed......

Day two....

Place the "new" rack on a clean piece of cardboard. Remove the
fitting adapters from the old rack, and clean them. Put the adapters
on the new rack. You might want to put a small amount of thread
sealer on the threads. Tighten the adapters. Next remove the cap seal
from the input shaft of the old rack. Clean and examine it. If it is
not torn, etc., gently tap it in place on the new rack.

Put the new tie rod ends on the tie rods of the new rack. To get an
approximate "toe in" setting, count the number of threads from the
tie rod to the lock nut on the old rack and put the lock nut on the
new rack's tie rod with the same number of threads. Put the tie rod
end on and tighten it against the lock nut. Repeat for the other side.

If your rebuilt rack came with the bushings in place, remove them.
Chances are that when the rack was degreased and remanufactured, the
rubber on the bushings was compromised. To put the new bushings in,
coat them with dishwashing detergent and slide them into place.

The rack is now ready to be put back in.

But first...take the can of lithium spray grease and spray the crap
out of the gear shift mechanism which usually covered up by the spare tire.

Slide the rack into place. On the driver's side, make sure the speedo
cable is under the tie rod. Next, put the 4 mounting bolts into the
rack and into the chassis, and tighten up the nuts finger tight, just
enough to hold the rack roughly in place.

Put the tie rods in place and put the nuts in place, but do not
completely tighten. Now put the universal joint back on the steering
rack and put the bolt back in, but do not tighten it up.

Now tighten up the four mounting bolts in an "X" fashion. Now bolt
the other end of the steering shaft into the rubber coupler. Tighten
these bolts.

Put some thread sealer on the fitting adapters, and put the power
steering lines back on. First the 22 mm fitting, and next the 19 mm
fitting. Tighten the couplings.

Next tighten the tie rod end nuts as well as the bolt on the
universal joint on the steering shaft.

You might want to check to see how far the steering wheel is off
center and do a rough adjustment at this time (24mm socket).

Now its time to head to the engine compartment to flush out the
steering sytem. Remove the upper line (fluid return line) from the
power steering fluid reservoir. Block off the fitting from the
reservoir. Now take the return line and stick it into a 1/2 litre
water bottle or old oil bottle. Fill the reservoir with dexron. Start
the engine and allow the bottle to fill with dexron. Stop the engine,
refill the reservoir with fluid. Empty the dirty fluid into a
container. Start the engine again and allow the bottle to fill.
Repeat this process until the fluid comes out totally clear (probably
2 to 3 quarts later). Put the return line back on the reservoir,
clamp it, and then fill the reservoir.

Start the van, and check the level in the fluid reservoir. Add fluid
if necessary.

Next crawl under the front end to check for fluid leaks. If no leaks,
great!! Now turn the steering wheel left to right to left to right,
etc...You should hear a "happy" power steering pump, the steering
wheel should move freely, and the front axles turn!

Check the fluid level one last time and close up the engine
compartment. Put the wheels back on, the spare tire back into its holder.

Put the windshield washer fluid reservoir back place. Don't forget to
attach the washer hoses and electrical connector.

Jack the van up, remove the jack stands, and jack the car back to the
ground. Tighten the lug nuts and put the hub caps back on.

Now take the van for a test drive. Your steering wheel might be "off
center", but don't worry about it for now. Make sure that you don't
hear any unusual noises from the power steering pump, the wheels turn
freely from left to right, etc.

Unless you have your own personal alignment rack, your job is done.
Take the van to the local alignment shop and have them set the toe-in.

Drive home, and have a beer!!

Good Luck.


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