Saturday, March 20, 2010

Replacing a Power Steering Rack in a Dodge Intrepid, Installation

Getting the gear back in is pretty much the reverse order of removal, with a few caveats. Make sure that the gear is turned all the way to the right (by hand) before you try to line it up with the coupler. This is the worst part. There is a flat spot that must line up on both the gear and the coupler or you will utter every expletive known. I had to take a screwdriver and using it as a lever (through the roll pin hole) to get it on back on the gear. Once this is on, take the roll pin and squeeze it in the coupler until it's relatively even top and bottom. By the way, if you're tempted to tap the coupler on the gear with a hammer DON'T. This coupler is designed to collapse in a crash and you will PERMANENTLY damage it if you do. The result is a dangerous steering steering joint that may cause a crash. Bite the bullet, pack your patience and do it right. Install the four bolts to secure the rack to the firewall and then reattach the coupler to the steering column.

The tie rods are another sticking point on this car. The wheels must be OFF the ground or you'll have serious problems. Take ONE of the NEW bolts, washers, the main washer, bushings and tab and assemble this into the RIGHT side of the gear. Thread this loosely by hand until you can almost tighten it all the way. Do the same with the left bolt, washer, bushing, using a screwdriver to pry the tie rod ends apart. Thread this BY HAND at least several turns. It will also be noteworthy to say that there is a spacer inside the boot of the gear that needs to line up with the bolts and holes in the gear. Assuming the spacer in the boot is lined up with BOTH bolts and the BOTH bolts are threaded in the holes straight, carefully tighting with a ratcheting box end wrench. These should tighten smoothly and easily. If not, find out why. You could be cross-threading the bolts and will do damage to the bolts or gear if you force it in. At best, the steering will clunk when you turn the wheel. At worst, you'll be in a crash faster than you can utter an expletive. Tighten the bolts securely and bend the retaining tabs over them.  Install the lines, reattach the hoses etc, but don't button everything up just yet. You'll want to bleed the steering gear first. This means filling the power steering reservior, starting the engine and moving the wheel lock to lock a few times (with the car still on jackstands); checking the fluid level all the while. Once the fluid level stops dropping and you've added it up to the fill cold line and you're satified there are NO leaks, you can install the rest of the parts and lower the car.

The cooling system on these is not going to be fun to bleed and you may want to take this into a shop to make sure it's done properly. If this isn't done right right you could have air spaces in the cooling system which could cause the engine to overheat. It also bears mention that you will want a service manual for this car. Maranatha!

No comments: