Skip to main content

I'm going through my suspension and have noticed, discovered, whatever...

I was yanking on the tie rods to check them and found that they are nice and tight but the entire end of the rack, from the mounting bracket out flexes.

It is easy to do it. If I tug on the wheel hub, the rack flexes.

I'm shocked because I didn't expect this. Is this thing made from silly putty or what?

Is there a replacement made out of real steel?

Anyone with any feedback for me on this?
Original Post

Replies sorted oldest to newest


I have recently been working on my steering rack.
You are talking about the passenger side of the car right? the opposite end or the rack to where pinion locates. It sounds to me like you need a bronze bush. All the vendors sell them. The original bush was made from some kind of nylon or plastic, and only lasts a few thousand miles.
After studying the rack and talking to a bespoke rack manufacturer, I decided there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the design, or the quality of the steel used for the rack and pinion. The bush is the main issue.
I had a bush made locally from phosphor bronze that is about twice as wide as the ones available from the vendors. I am hoping it will last twice as long.

Mike Drew wrote an excellent story on rebuilding steering racks. I think you will find this story on the Pantera place website.

I recommend molly grease for the rack, not oil.

Actually the play that I notice is on the drivers side. I'll try the other side today.

You have me at a loss about the bushing. Are you talking about internally or a mounting bushing?

I presume that you were agreeing with me about the flexing and you are blaming it on the plastic bushing?

I may start to play Russian Roulette with an automatic weapon.
I'm going to go yank somemore (yes I know what that means to you Brits).

It would appear to me that I have no play in the tie rods that I can see and yet when "appling pressure to the wheel hub", it would appear that I have deflection in the rack assembly itself as if the rack ias actually flexing.

I can't tell you in degrees of deflection without an alignment machine but I'd say I see 1/4 to 3/8" of unexplicable movement.

It does not seem to be the movement of the inner tie rod joint, that's tight. Therefore I don't think that it is the internal bushing.

I need to go explore some more.
I have returned from yanking.

My scientific study concludes that the movement is within the interior rod end on both sides.
It is not the tube that is moving.

The movement occurs when pulling on the hub assembly, not pushing it. At that point the inner rod end moves down maybe .100".

The movement is about equal on both sides of the car.

I would have to deem this as about normal.

How does the inner tie rod end get grease? Do I have to use a needle tip on the grease gun?

Both joints are "wet" inside of the boot. They look like they have oiled previously rather then greased.

Maybe I could tighten the inner socket a little?

There is no hex nut on it. How do you remove the retaining "washer" or tighten it?
Doug, the racks are supposed to be oil (80w90 gear) lubricated, but I think some people have switched over to using grease because the oil often just leaks out (especially with crappy new ill-fitting boots...). Mike Dailey's site has details on this (as you probably already know, but in case others reading don't):

My rack had a weird slop to it and it turned out that a previous owner had replaced the bushing and neglected to tighten the D/S retainer nut all the way before crimping it. Your flexing is an odd one, but now I want to go check mine to see if it acts the same way.
I can tell you that it is the original rack and it has a little over 30,000 miles on it.
I think that the Pantera is a quirky car to say the least. My rack may be perfectly normal and it may be that I just never noticed this "quirk" before.

Where better to compare notes on these cars then here.

Many of the things I considered "normal quirks" are considered abnormalities. I didn't realize this until I started "talking" to other Pantera owners.

I can understand what Johnny Woods is saying is the fault of the internal plastic bushing. I think that is where my play is coming from.

I suppose that I need to decide like a Medical Dotor does if I can live with it because the cure is worse then the disease?

I suppose that I am a good match for the Pantea as well. The only question I have is do I or the car have more quirks? Funny. My right shoe has been squeaking today and it's making me crazier. It kind of makes a quirking noise instead of a squeak. Yikes!

I hate when that happens!

The best way to see where the play is coming from is to get the car up on a 4 post lift so that it's sitting on it's wheels, and have someone rock the steering wheel back and forth while you look around under there. Make sure the rubber gaiters are pulled off so that you can see if the rack is moving up and down in the housing.

You will enjoy driving the car a lot more with precise steering. I gave up on my old rack because the actual rack and pinion was worn. Normal engineers can't fix this unless they have a dedicated rack and pinion cutting machine. I bought a new one (new old stock, very hard to find in right hand drive) Before putting it in the car I installed the bronze bush and redesigned the retainer nut/cup that hold the tie rods. I can now make adjustments to the tie rod cups without taking the rack out of the car, none of that unpeening/crimping nonsense (long story). I have finally got it so that it's no longer possible to move the steering wheel without seeing the road wheel move.

I know this is an old post but I was wondering if doug or Johnny ever figured out if this "play" in the tie rods was "normal" or not? I also have a slight amount of play at this point and was wondering if the 2 inspectors who rejected my state inspection would except the fact that this was inhearn't to the vehicle.

Also what is the correct way to grease the ball joint with the rack in the car?
Play in tie rod ends is never desireable to me. I replace them as soon as I notice it.

I had an outer tie rod on my Taurus SHo that showed no play when you examined it. The car would rattle when you drove it. No wobble in the steering wheel or rack itself.

When I changed the rod end the rattle stopped.

I presume because of this it was defective but I can't prove it scientifically. Just circumstantial evidence.

Look again at the INNER rod ends. These things seem never to get replaced. I would suspect them before I would a bad rack.

Lock the steering column so that it can't move. Jack the car and grab the tire at 3 and 9 oclock and try to move it. What happens.

Check your tire pressure. I have been able to flex the tires under these conditions with 30 pounds in them. Sometimes putting 40 psi in the tire will make the problem go away. Don't go over 50 psi. That can be on the dangerous side.

I have also had strange steering problems by putting wider profile RADIAL tires on the minimum width wheel.
Loose steering is almost always caused by a pathetically poor stock rack bushing rather than worn balljoints or tierod ends. It's easy for home mechanics to mis-adjust the inner tierod connections too loose, or forget to 'stake' the adjuster and these will also lead to looseness. Occasionally, a perforated rack-boot allows all the lube to drain out and then wear of the rack gear and the pressure foot can happen. Steering instabilty is different and can possibly due to the small amount of caster available (only 2.6 degrees) in a stock Pantera with wider-than-stock wheels & tires. Adding offset a-arm bushings is the simplest way to increase caster; about double the max stock to 5+ will tighten up steering precision without increasing steering effort too much.
Maybe I'm not making this clear.
I went to have the safety inspection on my car and the mechanic jacked up the front end. He started to pull on the drivers side wheel and thought he felt play. As he was at 3 and 9 o'clock and moving the tire I saw the steering wheel moving back and forth with the slightest movement at the tire. He then went down and looked at the boot and there was a slight leak. He also said he saw flexing of the tie rod verticly. The passanger side tire was still on the ground. Ok, I took the Pan back to my house and did the same thing with the wife at the steering wheel. She felt movement as soon as I moved the tire. I removed the tire and found the inner boot clamp loose and no cuts on the boot so figure it's leaking at the inner band of the boot. The tie rod end is tight at the spindal and no movement was noted at the ball socket.
The question is with most cars there is a certain amount of play at the steering wheel becouse of a high spot on a pinion gear. Maybe about a 1/8 to 1/4" play total. The Pan seems to be vertualy 0" play at the steering wheel and my rack is tight to the frame (with the added spacers by the way) I have 38k miles on the car and don't push it real hard (much). The car tracks like it's on rails and no issues with steering are noted. I just had it 4 wheel aligned with max caster of about 3 degrees and no issues were noted at that time.
The other question was lubing the rack. Can you remove the upper cover on the rack and add fluid there? Will anything pop out if I remove the cover? I want to add the brake-in lube mentioned (0-1/2 weight), can this be added with the original oil in the rack?
Thanks again,
Steve in VA

Someone on your end, especially the inspecter doesn't know WTF they are doing.

If the steering column is unlocked and you yank on the tire at 3 and 9, it is supposed to move.

If the steering column is locked so that it can't move, and you yank on the wheel and it moves then something is loose. #1) wheel bearings #2)tie rod ends, #3)rack. OK, got it yet?

Tell your state inspector to go back and graduate from third grade first then come back and inspect cars with the rest of "ya'll". Wink
my car when I got it, had play in the rack ( bronze bush) and also the steering column itself.
As I live in the land where Pantera's are not common I had bushes made for both, and now it is all fine, Also check the steering intermediate shaft, as mine was binding on the uni ! made it even worse !
The amazing this was the previous owner said it drove fine !
Link copied to your clipboard.