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I have a 2002 Sable. When the front wheels are both raised off the ground by gripping the front and back of the front tires and moving in and out I get a very slight amount of play. The ball joints and tierod ends are not loose or showing any slack. The slack seems to be in the rack and pinion gearbox. my question is if there is a way to adjust the gearbox for slack as on lder vehicles? also are the tie rods removable from the gear box and replaceable without removing the gearbox? Oriellies has tie rods that show to screw on to the gearbox, with a balljoint at the end nearest the gear box. Is there a way to know if it is the tie rod ball joints gone bad, or the gear box itself? car has about 127,000 miles.
 

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Have someone hold the steering wheel fixed. Watch tie rods when you pull / push on tire at 3 and 9 oclock. If tie rod(s) move in/out of the rack then the inner tie rod ends (inside the dust boots) are worn. They can be replaced, but if they are worn, the rack itself is likely getting old internally as well. Might be cheaper in the long run and easier to just replace the rack assy with a reman.
 

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I have a 2002 Sable. When the front wheels are both raised off the ground by gripping the front and back of the front tires and moving in and out I get a very slight amount of play. The ball joints and tie rod ends are not loose or showing any slack. The slack seems to be in the rack and pinion gearbox. my question is if there is a way to adjust the gearbox for slack as on older vehicles? also are the steering tie rod removable from the gear box and replaceable without removing the gearbox? Oriellies has tie rods that show to screw on to the gearbox, with a balljoint at the end nearest the gear box. Is there a way to know if it is the tie rod ball joints gone bad, or the gear box itself? car has about 127,000 miles.
what tool do you use for steering tie rod tightening? I've found this huzar tool that claims it has the recommended torque for tie-rod tightening.. it's not cheap though,what's a good alternative??

 

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RAck

Rack is $180 at Advance Auto.
I agree. Totally.

At those miles, I would do the tie rod ends also. And when you get the inner done, the seal is the next to go, leaking fluid. New rack fixes all at once and you are ready for the next 100K.:p

I did a inner joint one time. Never try that again.

If one is loose, the other is loose also, and the rack is worn. Special tool needed for inners. I have to believe the force you put on the rack to remove the old one does harm to the rack.

-chart-
 

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You can rent the inner tie rod tool at most part stores or buy it for cheap (~$45) at harbor freight tools. A quick test for inner wear is to remove the outer and if inner falls like a rock downwards, not slowly with a little resistance, ball joint is probably worn out. If you r&r either (outer and/or inner), be sure to get an alignment afterwards.
 

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Are you recommending to replace rack/inner tie rods, not just the inner tie rods, when mileage is up there (subjective but roughly 150k miles)? Is it a lot more work? I haven't replaced the rack before. By the way, I have never owned a vehicle over 120k miles before.
 

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If you replace the rack with a long rack, it includes inner tie rods. A short rack, which hardly anyone offers anymore, does not include inner tie rods. Ive replaced outers, inners and racks independently of ea. other several times depending on which component failed. Many more outers and inners than racks (2). Racks are a pita!
 

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I'm replacing my rack this week. Is it really necessary to drop the subframe? I don't mind doing it as I plan to replace the bushings, but I'm curious as to any tricks etc..
TIA!!
 

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You can pull the steering rack boots to the outside after removing the inner tie wraps to see if the inner rack ball joints are worn. Just did a buddies driver side on his 95 continental. Fairly easy job if you have the tool to remove the thing (we used a Autozone Rental). Regularly changing of the power steering fluid can go a long way toward increasing the life of the steering rack assembly. I use the turkey baster method and a good full synthetic transmission fluid.
 
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