Mercedes-Benz R320 BLUETEC Steering Gearbox Replacement Cost
How Much Does a Steering Gearbox Replacement Cost?
Steering Gearbox Replacement Service and Cost
The steering gearbox is the older and more heavy duty type of steering gear, and may be power steering, or manual steering. When the steering wheel is turned, the steering gear, whether power assisted or not, turns the pitman arm, which causes the wheels to turn.
The steering wheel is connected to the steering gear by the steering column. When the steering wheel is turned, the steering gear will turn the pitman arm, the link between the center link and the steering gear. The pitman arm and idler arm, which connects the other side of the center link to the chassis, hold the steering linkage up, and allow it to move to either side with the pitman arm. When the steering linkage moves to one side, the wheels turn in that direction, causing the vehicle to turn.
Power steering component failure almost always means a leak, but the amount of leaking fluid will determine if the vehicle can be driven. Also, if failure of the pulley or accessory belt occurs, the vehicle may be stranded if the belt also drives other accessories. Small leaks will not prevent the vehicle from driving, but when fluid cannot be added quickly enough to keep the pump full, a tow truck is recommended to avoid damaging the fuel pump and steering gear.
For most vehicles, the power steering system will last well over 100,000 miles before any failures occur. Mechanical failures and leaks in the power steering system are considered usually avoidable if maintenance has been performed according to the manufacturer service intervals. Keeping the power steering fluid fresh, and the system free of contaminants is the key to ensuring long power steering system life. As any system that carries high pressure will, the system will eventually fail from normal wear and tear, but this should be well into the serviceable life of the vehicle.
Steering Gearbox Replacement Repair Information
Since most power steering issues will generate the same symptoms, it would be difficult to diagnose only one part, without understand the condition of the whole system. When symptoms emerge, the power steering fluid is inspected, and topped off, and the condition, and tension of the belt is noted. The system may need to be bled of air prior to diagnosis. Any leaks will become very obvious at that time, and mechanical failure of the power steering pump will be evident from noise, or a pressure gauge inserted into the power steering line. At that time, if no other issues are found, the steering rack or steering gearbox will be suspected of failure, if the symptoms dictate. Any dust boots and seals will be inspected for leaks. The rack and pinion gear set will be inspected for sounds typical of mechanical failure, and the input and output shafts will be examined for play. This systematic approach will lead a technician to a diagnosis in short order, and ensure they know the entire system inside and out.
Before beginning the replacement of the steering gearbox, the servicing technician will prepare for the job by noting component locations, and removing items needed to access the gearbox, allowing its removal. The vehicle is then drained of power steering fluid as the hoses are disconnected from the steering gearbox. The steering column is unbolted, and the pitman arm ball joint is removed from the center link. Once free from any electrical connectors, on modern vehicles, the steering gearbox is unbolted from the chassis, and removed. On some vehicles, the steering gearbox is removed from the vehicle while sliding apart from the steering column splined shaft. Replacement is the opposite order of operations, followed by standard fill and bleed procedures for power steering systems.
When having the power steering gearbox replaced, asking what grade of components are being used is a good idea. Many repair facilities will, by default, offer the cheapest parts available to lower the quote. These parts may function like normal, but may be inferior in quality to other aftermarket, and OEM parts.
Power steering components are subject to high pressure, high heat, and high speeds. Selecting parts that are built to meet or exceed OEM standards will help ensure the longevity of the power steering hydraulic system. Inferior parts tend to lead to repeated replacement. There are many steering gear rebuild kits available, but property rebuilding a steering gear will exceed the available tools and capabilities of most people. If rebuilding is an option, there are many steering gearbox exchange services, or rebuilding services that offer warranties.
Steering gearboxes can take some experience to position, install, and adjust. The DIY who is used to these types of jobs will not have any issues. Inexperienced persons should leave this job to trained professionals.