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Old 22 Oct 2007, 06:36 pm
Obsessed Cruiser
Join Date: Sep 2001
Posts: 27,756
Default Re: RACK AND PINION ~ Help

Welcome to the forum.

Found this on the PT DIY site for some interesting reading:

I have a 2002 TE PT with 40k miles. It appears to me that the rack and pinion is failing. At slow speeds the steering wheel has a faint wiggle motion back and forth. The fluid is not low and the tires are in good shape. The wiggle is more pronounced when the temperature is colder. The dealer wants around $1,100 plus alignment, to replace the rack and pinion with no guarantee that the problem will go away. I have heard that the steering system in PT's is a weak link, is it? I have searched the web sites and have not found anything on the subject. The part is not under warranty because there is more than 36,000 miles, but I feel Chrysler should bear some cost for what I feel is a very early failure for a major part. What do think I should do? Thanks. - Ed, from USA.

We have received and or read about only one other (unconfirmed) report of rack failure during the last three years. The dealers' diagnosis sounds very wishy-washy if he's not willing to stand behind it. That would be an indication to me that it might be prudent to obtain a second or third opinion. I would investigate several other garages to determine if the rack is failing, without initially mentioning what the dealer told you. There may be many other causes, including the tires. Another known good set could be installed, to rule out that issue. Another place to inspect is the brake rotors for warpage.

If it does turn out to be premature failure of the rack, ask your dealer for assistance. Dealers and DC occasionally make free "out of warranty" repairs or will pay for a portion of the repair cost under a goodwill policy. They are usually more receptive to helping out if the damage occurs just outside the warranty period and if you can demonstrate that it occurred prematurely. Of course, if you can show that it a documented widespread problem, that would be a tremendous help, however we are unaware of any TSB's or reported concerns that support that contention. If the dealer isn't open to helping you, try contacting DC customer assistance and explaining the situation to them. If you're a repeat DC car buyer it wouldn't hurt to mention that either.

Follow up from owner - A friend, who is a mechanic, has experienced this same problem in other cars. His research has indicated that the geometry of the front suspension and the nature of modern radial tires create this problem. He stated that it is particularly noticeable on Ford Taurus. Nothing to worry about. Better tires may help, however were going to experiment with different alignment settings, i.e. caster and camber, etc. to see if we can eliminate the problem.

Follow up from owner - I increased the air pressure by 2psi all around and the problem disappeared. I normally run with 38psi in the front and 36psi in the rears, and now run at 40 and 38 and there is no indication of any wheel shake or wiggle. DIY Note - The normal and recommended tire pressure for the OEM tires is 35psi. Over inflation can be dangerous and cause uneven tire wear.
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