View Full Version : E30 Steering Gear Trouble

08-07-2006, 11:09 PM
I have a somewhat obscure question. Before I explain the problem, I'd like to get some input. With the car on stands, wheels removed, engine off, how should a healthy steering system feel as the steering wheel is turned lock to lock?

(By the way, can the rack be damaged by turning the wheels without the PS pump running?) :icon_blin

08-08-2006, 06:17 PM
NO slop in the system. When you push the rack you will have resistance. No it will not damage the system.

08-08-2006, 10:24 PM
Thanks for that. I wanted to get a response without any pre-bias.

I think the rack is shot then. At first I thought the PS pump was gone but now I'm doubting that. There is fluid dripping from both ends of the rack. When I turn the steering wheel as described above, there is a heavy resistance that comes and goes throughout the range of motion. Feels like something is binding.

There is no change in feel with the engine running. As the wheel is turned, I feel an alternate binding-free-binding-free kind of action.

OK, so the cheapest reman rack from the retailers is $300 (rockauto.com) not including core charge. There are several for sale on ebay at a lower cost. I suppose I could check with the bone yard, too, but I wouldn't want to do a pick-and-pull on this particular part. Any recommendations?

08-09-2006, 08:58 AM
I was about to tell you to get an E36 rack but I remembered this is a spec E30 car.

There's a place in Michigan that does good rebuilds and they are not that much, let me dig out the name of the place from records.

on't bother with boneyards you will end up with same malady in 6 months or less.

08-09-2006, 09:20 AM
Dan Martin may have one laying around his shop...

08-09-2006, 12:09 PM
There you go.

Dan ot but who did your budget paint?

08-09-2006, 12:36 PM
Rats. I called Dan and he said he just got rid of the only one he had. Oh well.

(BTW, this car is not necessarily going to end up as a SpecE30 or ITS car. The intial goal is to build a street-legal track car - say, 90% track use. When I'm ready to race, I'll decide whether to use this car or buy an existing race car.)

I found an online tutorial for doing the E36 rack conversion. I assume the reason for doing this is to get a quicker steering ratio? I might be interested, but the mods required for the steering column knuckle looked pretty sketchy...

08-09-2006, 12:44 PM
But they tend not to leak as much as the E30 racks. You could call Joel at Eurodepot in NH and get one from them. I believe they rebuild them also.

08-13-2006, 09:53 PM
With the help of some friends (and an air hammer), the old rack is out of the car. Separating the steering column u-joint/coupler from the pinion shaft was not fun. I think we may have damaged the u-joint, so I ordered a replacement from EuroDepot. Cool site - thanks for the tip!

As for the rack, I ordered a reman unit complete with inner tie rods and boots. Also ordered two new tie rod ends. I feel like rebuilding the entire front end but I'd like to actually drive this car before the snow flies.

I've read a lot of procedures for removing and installing steering racks, but I'm a bit worried about getting the pinion shaft back onto the u-joint. One guy said he got the knuckle started on the splines and then pounded on the rack with a plastic mallet. :eek: Any pointers?

08-14-2006, 09:24 AM
Dan ot but who did your budget paint?Peach Auto Painting and Collsion (kind of an upscale Earl Scheib).

$850 total (incl. tax)
$250 paint
$250 prep & prime
$350 body work (mostly rust mitigation)

(I could have saved money by doing the scuffing/sanding/cleaning myself, rather than just removing the exterior trim, but I had budgeted $1,000 for paint and graphics and ended up under-budget with them doing the work.)

08-19-2006, 06:58 PM
We did a E36 rack install in my garage and it was not a big deal. The owner LOVED the new feel.

09-03-2006, 08:20 PM
The new rack is installed! It went in surprisingly easy with the engine jacked up. Didn't have to bend the tabs.

The coupler between the steering column and the pinion shaft was binding a bit so that was replaced, too. Fun. Not. Once again, we had to bust out the air hammer - this time with a pickle fork bit. Getting the new one installed was equally entertaining.

Haven't completely reassembled the front end yet, but the steering feels smooooooth like a brand new car. :biggrin: