Symptoms indicating rack & pinion problems

Updated March 23, 2017

Cars have been around for over a century. Technological advances have led to so many parts and pieces being installed in modern vehicles that when a problem arises, it becomes difficult to spot. Many steering wheels consist of rack and pinions, which come together with an inner tie rod to allow steering functionality and control. An owner can use several symptoms to diagnose rack and pinion issues.

Loose Feeling

A "loose" feeling within the steering wheel constitutes a common symptom. You can usually feel it while turning the steering wheel back and forth. The symptom generally indicates a problem with the inner tie rod sockets, which may be worn and need replacement.

Steering Wheel Wandering and Tire Wear

Steering wheel wandering may indicate worn inner tie rod sockets, causing problems in the rack and pinion steering. Watch it closely, since it can also stem from completely unrelated issues, such as misalignment of the tires. Tire wear may also indicate problems in the rack and pinion; however, it too can result from misalignment of the tires, as well as other tire issues, including air pressure problems.

Hard Steering

Not only can loose steering indicate rack and pinion issues, but "hard" steering can also serve as an indicator. Experiencing hard steering might indicate corroded inner tie sockets. Over-torquing sockets can result in similar symptoms as well. They might also indicate problems with binding on the strut bearing plates, as well as lower ball joints.


Although noise can mean a lot of things when it comes to vehicles, it might potentially signal rack and pinion steering issues. Worn-out inner tie rod sockets can produce noise within the steering column. Noise can also arise from bad rack bushings and may also indicate the need for yoke adjustment within the rack and pinion column.

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About the Author

Steve Johnson is an avid and passionate writer with more than five years of experience. He's written for several industries, including health, dating and Internet marketing, as well as for various websites. He holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Texas.