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5th Gen Steering Rack Problem

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Old 03-14-2017, 11:35 AM   #1
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Default 5th Gen Steering Rack Problem

'01 Prelude Base

I think I know the symptom and even the solution to my problem but I'm trying to see if it has happened to anyone else.
I was getting a pretty noticeable clunk coming from the driver's left over bumps.
Checked the following thoroughly with a prybar multiple times:
-Lower Ball Joints
-Upper Ball Joints
-Upper Control Arms (Mounting Bushings)
-Lower Control Arms
-Sway Bar Bushings
-Sway Bar End Links
-Upper and Lower Shock Mounts
-Outer Tie Rod Ends
-Inner Tie Rods
-Steering Rack Mounting Bushings
Alllll of these things checked out

I also did a Dry Park Test (shaking the steering wheel side to side, wheels on ground, engine off)
This pretty much made me instantly identify the problem, the steering rack...
With your hand over the rack boot, (around the rack rod and the body/housing of the rack), you can feel play and can hear the noise coming right from there.
You wouldn't think a steering rack would make noise over bumps seeing as it only moves left and right, horizontally with the ground but Oh it does....
Heres the thing, the inner and outer tie rods checked out, the problem is the steering rack itself.
The "Rack Rod" or the geared rod that runs inside the body of the rack and actually moves side to side has end play.
Its as if the internal bushing that guides the rack rod has failed, but why? There are very little forces applied on the rod in that direction but I suppose it could happen.
This was 100% the cause for the play in the steering and clunking sound over bumps.

I bought a new re-manufactured power steering rack from PartsGeek made by a re-man company called MAVAL. Of all the places I looked for a rack, MAVAL had the best warranty AND was the most expensive (I figured it safe to assume this meant the best product) PartsGeek required that I send in my old rack for a core but the MAVAL rack came with a lifetime warranty.
I got the new rack in the mail, put the new re-man rack in and get this...it has the EXACT same problem, end play on the rack rod. Still no leaks but end play. I called MAVAL and spoke with a guy who said that it was not likely the rack that had play and that I should check out my ball joints, I explained everything I had checked and that I was positive it was the rack. He explained to me that if there was ANY play at all in the rack rod that it would cause the internal power steering seals to rupture and leak. I have no leaks but I do have play.
My only option is to take out the rack yet again, send it back and HOPE I get one back that is functional.
I'm thinking the company who does the re-man fixes all the seals, replaces the inner tie rods, paints the thing and ships it. I'm thinking their testing overlooks rack rod play.
  • Is this true that having ANY rack rod end play will cause leaks? I'm not familiar with the internal seals on p/s racks.
  • Has anyone else had this problem?
  • Am I just missing something? Is there supposed to be rod end play?
Thanks guys,


Last edited by Accordian47; 03-14-2017 at 11:59 AM.
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Old 03-14-2017, 03:18 PM   #2
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Default Re: 5th Gen Steering Rack Problem

Why not just replace the rack mounting bushings ? Those things are normally built to last but they could be weak(spongy) and it only shows up under vehicle load.
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Old 03-17-2017, 01:00 AM   #3
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Default Re: 5th Gen Steering Rack Problem

I would think that having play in the steering rack like that on the gearbox side, would cause slippage and result in rough or uneven steering. However, a small amount of play may be normal for these. Not sure. But just to be clear, the play is where I noted in my image with the red arrow? There doesn't seem to be much room for play to begin with, based on a quick look at the diagram. With the steering wheel in the locked position, do you still have the play?
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Old 03-27-2017, 04:13 PM   #4
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Default Re: 5th Gen Steering Rack Problem

Still a noise coming from the front end but I have replaced the steering rack with a unit from autozone and it has solved the rack rod end play in the steering.
Basically I did have noise coming from the rack but I also still have a noise coming from the front end.
I guess MAVAL is just a company to avoid, their reman rack was garbage and cost quite a bit.
The autozone rack is tight as can be, with no play and smooth power assist with just the right amount of steering wheel resistance.

It sound like a clunk, it is coming from the drivers side but I do hear the same noise but less pronounced, from the passenger's side as well.
It is hard to pin point but it sounds like it "sorta" clunks down near the floor but at the same time I can sense some of the vibration in what seems to be the spring area or upper shock tower.
The noises are pretty loud and sound like they're coming from something with like a good centimeter or so of play.
It's only under certain loads (mainly under a semi-loaded hit), both steering angle and type of bump seem to effect it. Its not there on every bump.
The noise isn't from the steering, at least there is no play or noise on the dry park test.

Along with the new rack I replaced both front lower ball joints, outer tie rods and inner tie rods.
My springs look good and intact, no rust or cracks. The shocks however are leaking from the piston seal. The car passes the bounce test fine, it takes bumps normally and rebounds quickly with one stroke.
I've re-checked with a pry bar multiple times on every bushing, joint and component in the front end...and I find nothing wrong.

Any suggestions? Could it be the shocks?
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