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How do you know if your power steering gearbox is bad?: Most modern cars use a steering system that operates on the rack and pinion steering mechanism which comprises several components such as the universal joints, main and intermediate shaft and the gearbox in the centre.
The gearbox is that component that receives input from the driver through the steering wheel and its column before sending signals to the tie rods and steering shaft.
From time to time, the steering shaft and gearbox can get worn out and become ineffective.
Some common ways of identifying these problems may include your steering wheel becoming tight when handling such that it won’t turn easily.
A bad gearbox may also manifest as leakage of the power steering lubricant leading to developing excessive heat and damage to other components as well.
Sometimes, the fault in the gearbox may present through a clearly perceptible grinding noise while steering either left or right due to poor lubrication.
You may also be able to diagnose a gearbox problem through the burning smell of oil.
This is because power steering oil smells like burnt oil and should this happen, stop the vehicle promptly and get the attention of a mechanic.
How do you check a steering gearbox?
First, inspect the steering box for any signs of leakage or wear to moving parts.
You can also check by lifting the front of the car while maintaining its weight on the tyres and getting someone to help and move the wheels a short way.
To inspect for any leaks, you may have to wipe the site clean in order to reveal cracks.
The adjustable screw or packing shims may also have their setting disturbed through over-tightening of the bolts leading to stiffness, check this too.
Finally, inspect for any signs of wear in the box or a loose drop arm or pinion shaft and try to move it by either pushing or pulling.
If it is working perfectly, there ought not to be any movement, but if there is, then you are certainly looking at a gearbox issue.
What does a bad steering box do?
Under ideal conditions, the power steering unit which uses hydraulic pressure permits easy and fast handling of the steering wheel.
However, when the gearbox is bad, it becomes difficult to turn easily as it should.
Sometimes, poor lubrication may increase friction between metal parts which will eventually cause noises whenever you try to steer the vehicle to either side or when you hit a bump on the road.
Additionally, a bad gearbox easily becomes hot and hence burn the lubricating oil that gives off the smell of burning oil in the car.
Once you notice any of these symptoms, contact a workshop for prompt repairs.
What does a bad steering rack sound like?
The steering rack is engineered to move noiselessly from size to side while still attached to the frame of the vehicle, if there are any problems with it, however, you are bound to hear a clunking kind of sound in the steering column coming from the front of the vehicle usually caused by a loose or worn out bushing or the steering rack mounting bushings, especially while driving over bumps or cracks in the road. Sometimes, you can even feel these sounds in the steering wheel itself across rough terrains or bumps.
How do you know if your power steering gearbox is bad? – Conclusion.
The steering rack is the sole determinant of an efficient steering system and as a result, any malfunction in it will manifest as poor manoeuvrability of the vehicle.
This portends a serious threat to your safety and that of other road users too.
You should be alert to any of these signs and attend to them promptly.
The problem can also present as a sort of stiffness in the steering wheel or random noises from within the cavity of the engine.
It may also manifest as a burning smell akin to that of burning oil due to excessive heat generation.
The instant you notice these symptoms, you will be advised to contact any local repair workshop as quickly as possible to enable timely diagnoses and repairs.