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Pelican Technical Article:

Steering Rack Replacement

Nick Czerula

Time:

4 hours4 hrs

Tab:

$300

Talent:

*****

Tools:

Sockets 13mm, 16mm, E10 external Torx, 21mm, 22mm wrench, soft-faced hammer, floor jack, jack stands, wheel chocks, safety glasses, torque wrench, lug wrench

Applicable Models:

Mercedes-Benz E320 (2003-09)
Mercedes-Benz E500 (2003-06)
Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG (2003-06)

Parts Required:

Power steering rack, power steering fluid, tie rod ends,

Hot Tip:

Drain power steering fluid before beginning

Performance Gain:

Repair steering rack leaks

Complementary Modification:

Install new tie rod ends

Mercedes-Benz W211 models utilize a rack and pinion steering system. A rack and pinion provides a less efficient mechanical advantage than older recirculating ball systems, but less backlash and a better overall feel. The power steering rack connects the steering shaft to the drive wheels via tie rod ends. It has hydraulic assist, using fluid supplied from the power steering pump to decrease steering effort.

Over time the power steering rack bushings can wear, causing a clunking noise in the steering. Or the most common issue, the rack seals fail, causing power steering fluid leaks. When purchasing a rack, you will likely have the option of buying it with new tie rod ends attached. I prefer to go this route. It makes fighting with the old tie rod ends a non-issue and freshens up all of the steering components. Once complete, you will have to have the vehicle aligned. You can eyeball the tie rod ends and get it close, but I would not suggest driving it further than the few miles needed to have it aligned.

Remember that your car may have been serviced before and had parts replaced with different size fasteners used in the replacement. The sizes of the nuts and bolts we give may be different from what you have so be prepared with different size sockets and wrenches.

Protect your eyes, hands and body from fluids, dust and debris while working on your vehicle. If you're working with the electrical system, disconnect the battery before beginning. Always catch fluids in appropriate containers and properly dispose of any fluid waste. Recycle parts, packaging and fluids when possible. Never work on your vehicle if you feel the task is beyond your ability.

Our vehicle may vary slightly from yours as models do change and evolve, as they grow older. If something seems different, let us know and share your info to help other users. Do you have questions or want to add to the article? Leave a comment below. When leaving a comment, please leave your vehicle information.

This procedure is shown with the front exhaust pipes removed. It is not necessary to remove them for the rack procedure.

Raise and support the front of the vehicle on jack stands. See our tech article on jacking up your vehicle.

Remove the front wheels. The task can be done with the wheels installed, as shown in the article. Remove the wheels to make detaching the tie rod ends easier.

Remove the power steering fluid from the reservoir using a suction pump.

The power steering rack (red arrow) connects the steering shaft (yellow arrow) to the drive wheels via tie rod ends (green arrows).
Figure 1

The power steering rack (red arrow) connects the steering shaft (yellow arrow) to the drive wheels via tie rod ends (green arrows).

Working at the left side tie rod end, remove the 21mm mounting nut (red arrow).
Figure 2

Working at the left side tie rod end, remove the 21mm mounting nut (red arrow). If needed, once you remove the tie rod from the steering knuckle, remove the tie rod end boot (yellow arrow). Then remove the tie rod end from the rack. You will not have to do this unless the new steering rack lacks tie rod ends. See our tech article on tie rod end replacing. Remove the tie rod from the steering knuckle using a ball joint removal tool. If you do not have a ball joint removal tool, use a hammer. Tap the area of the steering knuckle where the tie rod end connects to break the connection. The tie rod end will drop out once free (inset). Repeat the previous steps for the right side of the vehicle, disconnecting that tie rod as well.

Now it is time to prepare the steering shaft for removal from the power steering rack.
Figure 3

Now it is time to prepare the steering shaft for removal from the power steering rack. Start by removing the three 10mm heat shield fasteners (red arrows).

Remove the heat shield from the steering rack.
Figure 4

Remove the heat shield from the steering rack. Then disconnect the electrical connector (red arrow) by squeezing the release tabs and pulling it straight off.

Working at the steering shaft, remove the 13mm pinch bolt (red arrow).
Figure 5

Working at the steering shaft, remove the 13mm pinch bolt (red arrow). You will have to counterhold the nut when loosening (inset). Remove the nut and bolt from the steering shaft.

Unclip (red arrow) and remove the heat shield from the steering coupler.
Figure 6

Unclip (red arrow) and remove the heat shield from the steering coupler. Then, remove the steering shaft coupler from the steering rack by sliding it up and off. If it will not come off but slides up, you can remove it completely later, as you remove the rack from the vehicle.

Secure the steering wheel so it does not move.
Figure 7

Secure the steering wheel so it does not move. If the steering wheel rotates with the steering rack removed, the clock spring may be damaged. I am using a steering wheel holder. You can use rope or a bungee cord, as long it holds the wheel still.

The rack is almost ready to come out at this point.
Figure 8

The rack is almost ready to come out at this point. We will wait until the rack is unbolted and supported before removing the power steering line connection. This reduces fluid spillage. Remove the four 16mm mounting bolts (red arrows). You will have to counterhold the nuts (yellow arrows) at the top of the rack and subframe when removing these bolts. Once removed, the reinforcement plate (green arrow) will come down. You will have to support the rack from below.

This photo shows how to access the nuts with a wrench (green arrow) on the rack side, when removing the 16mm bolts (red arrow).
Figure 9

This photo shows how to access the nuts with a wrench (green arrow) on the rack side, when removing the 16mm bolts (red arrow).

Once the fasteners are removed, lower the reinforcement plate (red arrow) from the vehicle.
Figure 10

Once the fasteners are removed, lower the reinforcement plate (red arrow) from the vehicle. Place a jack stand under the rack.

This photo shows the jack stand (red arrow) supporting the steering rack (green arrow).
Figure 11

This photo shows the jack stand (red arrow) supporting the steering rack (green arrow).

Next, You have to remove the power steering line connections to the rack.
Figure 12

Next, You have to remove the power steering line connections to the rack. Using a 13mm socket, remove the line bracket bolt (red arrow). With the bolt removed, pull the upper line out with the bracket (yellow arrow). Once removed pull the lower line out (green arrow). Have a drain pan ready to catch any leaking fluid.

Once the rack is unbolted and the lines are removed, lower the rack to remove.
Figure 13

Once the rack is unbolted and the lines are removed, lower the rack to remove. Be sure the steering coupler and shaft are not attached as you slide it out. Guide it out, checking for snagged power steering lines. If the steering coupler would not come completely off earlier, remove it (red arrow) now as you lower the rack. Once the old rack is removed, compare the new part to confirm it is a match. Then install the new rack into the subframe and install the fasteners finger tight. Attach the steering coupler. Then tighten the rack to the subframe mounting bolts. Then tighten the steering coupler bolt. Attach and tighten the power steering lines to the rack. Then attach the tie rod ends to the steering knuckle. Reassemble the remaining items and have the vehicle professionally aligned. You will have to fill and bleed the power steering system. See our tech article on power steering pump replacing for bleeding information.


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Comments and Suggestions:
Al Comments: On a 2006 E500 with airshocks any suggents on accessing the the steering shaft pinch blot
November 22, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You can try from above, but the bolt position will not as shown. You may have to rotate shaft. Benz still shows it done from below with the marking lines up so the wheels are straight forward. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Jmo Comments: I'm just trying to free the rack and pinion up a bit so I can pull motor mount out. Unbolted the pinch-bolt that clamps the pinion shaft in place and the two long bolts holding the rack in place. Having a hell of a time pulling pinion shaft out from steering knuckle/coupler. Any tricks to getting the pinion shaft to slide out?
October 14, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Is the bolt completely out? You may have to lever it gently off. I have seen them stuck on pretty good. - Nick at Pelican Parts  

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