How to change rack and pinion - B15sentra.net - Nissan Sentra Forum
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#1 Old 06-14-2011, 09:33 PM
Black B15
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How to change rack and pinion

DISCLAIMER: I, along with B15sentra.net, are NOT responsible for any damage done while changing the rack and pinion. This is for information purposes only and if you feel you are not able to do this install please seek the services of a qualified repair person.

Please read through entire how to before beginning. There are some steps that may not be necessary for you.

Also, this may be easier if you have at least one person to assist you. I did this by myself which made it exponentially harder.

TOOLS NEEDED:
Jack stands
Jack
Ratchet (I prefer 1/2" drive...but you may be able to get away with a 3/8" drive)
Extension or extensions that will allow you to reach approx 24 inches. I used two 10" and one 4" extension in 1/2" drive
10mm socket
12mm socket
14mm socket (deepwell if you have it)
17mm socket
11/16 socket
12mm wrench
14mm wrench
17mm wrench
18mm wrench
19mm wrench
Phillips screwdriver
Flat head screwdriver
Hammer
Torque wrench
A LOT OF PATIENCE

STEERING WHEEL MUST BE EXACTLY STRAIGHT FORWARD WITH VEHICLE IN NUETRAL per fsm.

1. Unhook both positive and negative terminals and let stand for at least 3 mins (per fsm). (can't remember if these are 10 or 12mm)

2. Remove three panels on steering wheel located at 4, 6 and 8 o'clock. You can remove these panels by gently putting a flat head screwdriver in the small cutout, and gently popping them out. If you have cruise control...remove the cover for the cruise control unit and use a phillips screwdriver to remove the two screws holding unit in place. Pull unit out.

3. Underneath the panels at 4 and 8 o'clock, remove the bolts. There is ONE bolt in each side. The FSM states these may be T-30 Torx Security bits...mine were 10mm bolts.

4. Now the air bag is loose....pull airbag forward gently to expose the wiring going from steering column into the airbag with a yellow clip. Remove this clip by pulling up on the black piece connected to the yellow clip. BOTH sides of the black clip will pull up and the connector will pull out of the airbag. Set airbag aside somewhere safe, clean and airbag side UP.

5. Remove the bolt holding on the steering wheel (mine was 11/16 oddly enough). Once removed, either use a steering wheel puller or in my case I just banged the hell out of the steering wheel with my hands and it popped loose. DO NOT PULL IT ALL THE WAY OFF YET...there is a connector for the horn, cruise etc. Remove this clip and set the steering wheel aside. Failure to remove the steering wheel will most likely result in you snapping your SRS cable. (see below) Make sure to make matching marks on the steering wheel and gear..this makes it easier to line up when reinstalling.

At this point you can see the SRS cable...it is the black disc shaped unit directly beneath the steering wheel. Please also notice there is a small piece of this SRS sticking up, like a pin....when we put the steering wheel back on we need to match up this plastic pin to the hole on the back side of the steering wheel.

6. Put car up on jack stands and remove rims/tires

7. Drain power steering fluid

8. Remove cotter pin and nut connecting tie rod to the control arm and separate the tie rod from the control arm (14mm). Oddly enough the OEM replacement tie rods had larger nuts..one side was 17mm and the other 19mm...I have no idea why this was.

OPTIONAL: I removed my SRI and one side of the front strut brace...then I positioned strut brace UP and out of the way....this provided me MUCH more room to work in there and made it much easier.

9. Disconnect the high pressure line which is the smaller of the two lines...the one that is closer to the front drivers side (17mm wrench)

10. Disconnect steering gear lower joint by removing single bolt (12mm socket or wrench, whichever is easier for you). Make matching marks on the steering gear joint and plastic spacer, along with the rack and pinion. This will make it easier when installing the new one.

11. Remove low pressure line fitting (18mm wrench) and try to position both the low and high pressure lines out of the way (hard to do I know, but just be conscious of them during removal and install of rack and pinion).

12. PER THE FSM.....Disconnect the downstream heated oxygen sensor (o2 sensor) electrical harness. YOU MAY BE ABLE TO SKIP THIS STEP...I had already had the o2 sensor bung welded into my aftermarket exhaust...as such I had already pulled the clip off that connected the wiring for the o2 sensor to the frame.

13. Remove the steering gear mounting bolts and nut from the top side of the engine compartment using your 24" extension. There are 3 bolts total and one nut. The main one is 17mm (located right by where the hoses connect to the rack), then on the passenger side there is a bracket with two 14mm bolts and one 12mm nut. I had to use the 24 inches of extensions I put together in order to reach these bolts from the TOP side.

Once the passenger side bolts and nut are removed..you will see this is a metal bracket with a rubber bushing...save and clean these up...you will need the bracket and bushing for the new rack.

14. Remove rack and pinion through passenger side. This is the hardest part of all. Be VERY careful not to damage any of the lines, wires, etc...when removing and installing the new rack. The only way I could get the rack out and back in was to rotate it upside down in place and then work it out through the passenger side. It would be helpful to have a buddy on the drivers side watching through the hole while you are on the passenger side watching to make sure nothing gets snagged or broken on the way out and back in.

YOU MAY WANT HAVE TO REMOVE THE REAR BOLTS FROM THE CROSSMEMBER AND SLIGHTLY LOOSEN THE FRONT BOLTS. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A JACK UNDERNEATH THE ENGINE IN CASE IT DECIDES TO FALL. This step will give you about an extra 1/2-1" room which makes it much easier to remove the rack.


Installing the new rack and pinion
1. Install outer tie rods as described above and gently work the plastic spacer off of the old rack and pinion. You should have made a matching mark on the spacer when removing the steering gear...try to match this mark up as closely as possible with the spot where the mark was on the old rack and pinion. There is a little guess work here but you are able to get it close. Install the spacer on the new rack by very gently tapping it down over the splines.

2. Feed the rack and pinion back through the passenger side hole, be careful not to rip the boots or tear out any wires or anything. Just like removal, I had to have the unit basically upside down to fit through there. It will take a lot of patience and probably a little cussing and some smashed fingers, etc...

3. Once unit is in place, match up the marks on the steering gear with the lower joint and the plastic piece...if done correctly you should have the same alignment as before you did the install.

4. Once you have steering gear in place with the lower joint....install the small bolt (12 mm socket or wrench). The bolt should fit in quite easily, if it is not going in there is a chance the lower joint is not down far enough on the steering gear. If this is the case gently tap it down with a hammer and your 24" extension until that bolt goes in easily.

5. Now reinstall your low pressure line (18mm wrench) and then reinstall the high pressure line (17mm).

6. Reinstall the 17mm mounting bolt that is right next to the low/high pressure lines.

7. Reinstall the 14mm bolts and 12mm nut on the passenger side. Make sure all mounting bolts and nut are tight.

8. Connect the tie rod ends to your control arms and tighten nut....install the cotter pin through the nut to make sure it won't come off.

9. Put steering wheel back on by matching up the marks you made on the splines and the back of the wheel....MAKE SURE that the SRS cable pin thing goes into the hole on the back of the steering wheel. Reconnect wire connector to steering wheel

10. Install air bag by first reconnecting the yellow plug and then pressing the black clip back in place. Make sure airbag is back in the steering wheel correctly and connect the two bolts (4 and 8 o'clock positions)

11. Refill the power steering fluid and then you will need to "burp" the air out of the system. Per the FSM the way to do this is to fill up the resevoir to MAX COLD and start the vehicle...slowly turn steering wheel from lock to lock (from all the way left to all the way right). This is kind of messy, but will burp any air bubbles out of the system. Obviously, wipe up any power steering fluid that splattered out.


HELPFUL HINTS: After doing the install I was able to drive the vehicle right away. The way to do this is to make sure the NEW rack and pinion matches the old rack and pinion as far as length. The old farm trick that I learned was to count how many turns each tie rod takes to come off. For me, they were both 20 turns which is a little unusual that they were the same. Point is, when installing the new outer tie rods onto the new rack...I simply screwed them on 20 turns and tightened the nut down.

Clean everything up and start the car up...make sure you are not leaking any fluid and that you have tightented all bolts, nuts, fittings, etc....

Take the car for a test drive and see how nice it feels to have saved half a G.

2012 Nissan Rogue S Special Edition

Last edited by Black B15; 06-15-2011 at 01:35 PM.
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#2 Old 06-15-2011, 05:11 PM
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Instead of counting the turns, spray the old rack with the tire rods before removing with something you can see (black spray paint of something, w/e) and then unscrew outer tie rods and measure the distance. make sure you turn the new ones the same distance.

I did this with Joe a few weeks ago, we didn't remove the wheel.. Lol. (we had a lift), we took off the o2, removed the cross member, rmoved all 3 bolts holding the rack, took off the lines, and pulled it out ( I guess the passenger side, I don't remember). Took a little work twisting it.

In the end the hardest part was lining the rack back with the wheel straight. I don't even know what was happening then, Joe did it, but it took a while....

I got a reman rack, after all said and done, for about $150. So not a bad deal. New seals, rack/pinion, outer tire rods, etc.
http://www.rackdoctor.net/

I paid the $18 extra for a return label and sent mine back in for the core refund. Used ones go for around $100 anyway. Worth it to me,.

Performance: I/H/MP/E/Knock Sensor/BSR Kit/MMI's/$7WHA/STS/Shifter bushings/SS clutch/ 17x7 O.Z Ultraleggeras with 225/45/17 P960 AS Pole Possitions
Suspension: Nismo R-tune bushing kit/Nismo RSB/FSB/LTB/4pt trunk bar/6k BC Racing Coilovers

More to come...
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#3 Old 06-15-2011, 06:12 PM
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Definitely going to send mine back for the core charge as well...nothing wrong with $75!

I was thinking instead of sending it back, there might be a place locally here who would pay for the core. Hmmm....interesting.

2012 Nissan Rogue S Special Edition
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#4 Old 04-25-2012, 11:30 PM
Hytek
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I dont mean to revive an old thread but i didnt feel the need to start a new one. When im "Make matching marks on the steering gear joint and plastic spacer, along with the rack and pinion" Where/how exactly am i making these marks? Does anyone have a rough picture for me to get a better understanding? Sorry if its a dumb question but just want to clarify before i start this task on the weekend.
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#5 Old 04-26-2012, 08:44 AM
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I can't take a pic for you as I have since sold my sentra.

The steering gear lower joint is basically where the rack and pinion and the rod for the steering wheel meet up. With your wheels straight, make a mark on the steering wheel part of that joint and on the rack and pinion/plastic piece parts.

Now when you pull the old rack out you can transfer the mark to the new rack.....now when you install the new rack you just line up all three marks.

Does that help at all? I just woke up so I hope I am making sense.
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#6 Old 04-26-2012, 11:58 AM
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Haha thank you that clarified up any questions i had. Thats what I was thinking but just wanted to confirm that.
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