Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera Rack and Pinion Replacement Cost

Know what price you should pay to get your vehicle fixed.

Rack and Pinion Replacement
The average cost for an Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera rack and pinion replacement is between $779 and $911. Labor costs are estimated between $457 and $589 while parts are priced at $322. Estimate does not include taxes and fees.
Note about price: This service is typically done as part of a bigger, more expensive repair, so the estimate you see above may not represent your total cost. Some of these bigger related repairs are listed in the table below. Talk with a RepairPal Certified shop to learn which repairs may be right for you.

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Rack and Pinion Replacement

What is a steering rack?

The rack and pinion steering gear is a newer and lighter steering gear, and may be hydraulically assisted, electrically assisted, or unassisted. When the steering wheel is turned, the steering gear, whether power assisted or not, pushes or pulls the wheels in the requested direction.

How does the steering rack work?

The steering rack is roughly located between the front wheels, and attaches the front wheels to the steering wheel through a few important components. When the steering wheel turns, the steering rack pushes one side out while the other is pulled in. The inner and outer tie rod ends link the ends of the steering rack, and the steering knuckles, which is what the wheels attaché to. Then the steering wheel is turned, the steering rack forces all of these components out on one side, and pulls them in on the other side.

What are the symptoms related to a bad steering rack?

Power steering rack leaks and mechanical issues are evident as soon as the vehicle is moved, and power steering fluid on the ground is accompanied by strange noises and a different steering feel. Besides leaking oil, the power steering pump might being sounding overworked when turning normally as the steering rack begins to increase required input pressure before turning the wheels. Lastly, the steering rack may make a clunking noise, and the steering wheel would feel loose. When the mounting bolts break, or stretch, the steering gear will be permitted to move back and forth, which will also create noticeable wear marks on the mounting area.

»MORE: Steering rack and pinion symptoms

Can I drive with a steering rack problem?

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.

How often do steering racks need to be replaced?

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.

How are steering rack issues diagnosed?

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.

How is a steering rack replaced?

Before beginning the replacement of the steering rack, the servicing technician will prepare for the job by noting component locations, and removing items needed to access or remove the steering rack. The vehicle is then drained of power steering fluid as the hoses are disconnected from the steering rack, and the outer tie rods are removed from the steering knuckles. Once free from any electrical connectors, on modern vehicles, the steering rack is unbolted from the chassis and removed. On some vehicles, the steering gear is removed by removing the front sub frame, drive shaft, differential, or sway bar. Replacement is the opposite order of operations, followed by standard fill and bleed procedures for power steering systems.

RepairPal Recommendations for steering rack issues

When having the power steering rack 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.

What to look out for when dealing with steering rack issues

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 rack rebuild kits available, but properly rebuilding a steering rack will exceed the available tools and capabilities of most people. If rebuilding is an option, there are many steering rack exchange or rebuilding services that offer warranties.

Can I replace the steering rack myself?

Rack and pinion gears should be replaced by a professional technician. Many modern vehicles require removal of the front sub frame while supporting the engine from the upper frame rails. This is a dangerous operation, that is much more safe when performed on a lift, with proper bracing equipment. If the rack and pinion steering gear is easily accessible, and can be removed with ease, this can be done by a DIYer, and the wheels will require alignment after the steering rack is replaced.