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Rack & pinion replacing tips

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Old 11-30-2017, 09:05 PM
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Rack & pinion replacing tips

Yes, I am waiting for my RockAuto order to arrive. Complete rack and bushings.
If anyone has any tips it would be helpfull. I'm pretty mechanically inclined. And I plan on taking alot of measurements, counting threads on the ball joints, and going for it.
Any issues with priming it on first start? Or do I just run the wheels back and forth fully to get the air out?
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Old 11-30-2017, 09:44 PM
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Counting the threads is good, but a few months ago I replaced the entire front end on a '96 T-bird and the replacement tie rods were WAY off of the old ones. I counted threads, 30 on the driver's side and 31 on the passenger side, but by the time I got to the front-end alignment shop, I must have chewed half of the rubber off of the front tires. The closest chance to get it nearly correct is if you use OEM tie rods.
As far as priming the rack and pinion assembly, try this: Full the power steering pump with oil, jack the front end up and move the steering wheel all the way to the left and right several times BEFORE you start the vehicle. Again bring the pump up to full before starting up the engine. Start it up, still with the weight off the front tires, and let pump get all the air out by turning the wheel left to right again. Fill up the pump and let it set overnight to have the foamy oil return to a nice liquid state. Odds are, you won't have any problems with trapped air.
My $.02.
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Old 11-30-2017, 10:11 PM
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I think you can't expect even new OEM tie rods to match the old, especially if you're also replacing the steering rack.

The best thing to do is to do some coarse alignment yourself after you install. Set up some kind of template to push against the flats of the rim that extends past the tires. I've used a 1x4 wood strip with machine screws and strapped it to the wheel with bungee cords. Use 2 screws on each end where they meet the rim. Have the strip stick out in front of the tire, then attach the tab of a tape measure to it close to the tire tread so it doesn't fall off. Measure from there to the edge of one of the treads on the tire on the other side. Now turn the strip around so it stick out toward the back of the tire, and make the same measurement on the back of the tire. Adjust the tie rods as evenly as possible to reduce the difference between these two measurements, to 0 if possible. This will at least make sure both tires are pointed in the same direction. You can then take some test drives to make adjustments so that the steering wheel is straight when you're going straight down a level street. This will get you close enough to drive to the alignment shop without chewing up the tires.
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Old 12-01-2017, 05:44 AM
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Thanks guys, I plan on taking Alot of measurements.
I am planning on reusing the tie rods if they are in good condition.
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Old 12-01-2017, 07:54 PM
87&97Aerostrar 87&97Aerostrar is offline
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Changing the rack on an Aerostar is pretty easy. Takes me almost as long to get the van on the stands as it does to change the rack. I've done it twice on the 97 and three times on the 87. If you're replacing the tie rod ends a pickle fork will get them off the ball joint. If using the existing ends, I suggest buying or renting a removal tool. After that, it's two lines and three bolts, and it's out.
Counting the turns on the tie rod ends has always gotten me close enough to drive to an alignment shop but "my" final adjustment was made using a tool similar to the one in the picture. I've never had any uneven tire wear.

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Old 12-02-2017, 07:18 AM
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Thanks, I should get new ball joints, I don't know why I just didn't get them with my order. But I think I will see if the local auto parts store has them.
It sucks waiting. I do not! like having my van down.
I'm at least going to move the van into position this weekend so when the parts show up I can dive in head first.
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Old 12-02-2017, 03:10 PM
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Did you mean tie rod ends vs ball joints? The tie rod ends are the things that are threaded onto the ends of the rack. The ball joints are installed into the control arms.

The stock tie rod ends that came on my 1990 Aerostar had some weird rubber bushings in them that wore out, causing a lot of play. I replaced them with more plain ball stud type ends from Moog.
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Old 12-02-2017, 05:53 PM
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Yes,, tie rods, not thinking. I did get some new ones today.
I got it all installed today. But, it was an AC Delco,, completely different from the one I had which was not stock. So all my measurements were not useable. I got it though. I will need to have it aligned. But my pressure hose leaked before I even started it. So that is on the way. Not in stock at any store around here. DAMMIT!

They had some really long one in stock?? mine is short. And the only one I could find was the ones with the fitting in the line for a pressure switch, that mine does not have. But they all seem to come with a block off plug.
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Old 12-02-2017, 07:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sittinguy View Post
They had some really long one in stock??
IIRC, some Aerostars came with a really long pressure line that snaked from the pump all the way to the passenger side, did a 180, and then came back to hook up to the rack on the driver's side.
Pretty sure was Ford's version of a power steering cooler and I've replaced a few of mine with the shorter version. Did I shorten the life of my power steering by having it run at a hotter temp? I never saw any difference.
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Old 12-04-2017, 06:21 PM
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you mean the TIE RODS ? yes, good idea to measure them.

It is very easy. Two giant bolts hold the rack to the front member, then there is the pinch bolt to the steering column, and removing the tie rods.

the front wheels should be in the straight ahead position.

Bleeding the air must be done with the front wheels in the air, engine running, and turning the steering wheel left to right without hitting the STOPS on each side.

place good support under the vehicle, jacks under the front jacking points, and a hydraulic for extra safety. under the front member.

When I did mine, the factory bushings at the front member were more substantial than the ones that came with the new rack, and were in perfect shape, so I reused them. The new bushings looked "anemic" to me, they had smaller shoulders than the factory ones.
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Old 12-04-2017, 08:26 PM
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My hose is supposed to be here tomorrow. YEA
I do not like my van being out of order!!
To the shop for alignment next
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Old 12-06-2017, 08:29 PM
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Well, I got it together, but it was tough. My hose came in and I thought it would be quick and easy. NO, I apparently got alot of air in the rack in the process of turning the wheels back and forth with no fluid. Once I started the van and started turning the wheels while it was still jacked up they started to violently shudder. So a long story short, down on the ground back and forth, around the yard all the while shuddering on hard turns. Let it sit for a while so the air could settle out, and go again. About 6 times, each time a little better. Let it sit overnight, drove it to work seemed OK. Slight shudder over 50mph. Had it aligned while I was at work. $90 and it seems good.
This was not as enjoyable a project as I had hoped.
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Old 12-06-2017, 10:42 PM
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I apparently got alot of air in the rack in the process of turning the wheels back and forth with no fluid.
One advantage that a shop has is that some of them have a machine that puts a vacuum on the oil and sucks out the air before starting up the vehicle. But I've found one way to get the air out is to let the vehicle sit for 8 hours or overnight after the vehicle has been started and the air bled out. This lets the foamy oil turn back into liquid oil.
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Old 12-08-2017, 05:29 PM
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why did you try to bleed without fluid? the system is supposed to be full of fluid before turning engine on and bleeding the air out.
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Old 12-09-2017, 07:10 AM
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I was turning the wheel back and forth not to bleed it, but to set the alignment. The new rack was totally different. And I had to go from side to side to make sure the turn angle was the same on both sides,, so I was measuring the distance from the stops on the back of disk plates.
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