I just replaced the electric power steering unit, and I wanted to share a few tips for those who will come after me.
First, the problem. The dealer tech who did my control arm replacement under warranty didn’t install one of the boots correctly, and it slipped off the rack (it was zip tied on), allowing dirt/moisture/small animals into the rack. After 7 years, the rack was making the rubbing noise when the wheel was turned and was losing steering feel. Time for a new rack!
First, the good news. You don’t have to pay $800+ core charge for a rack. I found a rack on ebay from a salvage parts dealer for $125 delivered – with a lifetime warranty. Albeit, I’ll hate replacing it again, but at least I won’t have to buy it again.
Now for the not so good news: it’s not easy to replace, and you’re probably going to need a lift – at least we did.
I have a few time-saving tips for you shade tree mechanics attempting this at home.
First, drop into the 5 & dime and get yourself an ELM327 OBDII unit to go with the FORSCAN software you can download for free off the interwebz. You’re going to need an extended license for FORSCAN, so grab that when you’re installing the software.
Now, you’re going to read and save the configuration of the PSCM using the FORSCAN software so you can later upload it to the PCM after you install the new-to-you EPAS unit.
Once you’ve saved the PSCM file to your computer (I think it only had 2 lines in it, the first of which was just a big number), you’re ready to pull the EPAS out of your car.
center the steering wheel and tie it off with the seatbelt to make sure it won’t move.
Raise the front wheels, remove the radiator support frame (6 15mm bolts, 2 15mm nuts), and transmission tunnel brace (4 15mm nuts)
pull back the tie rod boots from the EPAS, and use a pipe wrench to unscrew the inner tie rods from the ends of the steering rack.
this leaves the tie rod ends in place and you might not need an alignment.
now remove the 13mm bolt from the top of the steering column universal joint and pry the steering column shaft out of the universal joint. I left some of the shaft int he joint, and it came out when I removed the EPAS.
pull the clips out (just part way) on of the two electrical connectors going to the EPAS, and squeeze the connectors and pull them from the unit. Push the wiring harness pins out of the leading edge of the epas to free the harness from the unit.
Now for the hardest part. The three bolts holding the epas unit in place are accessed from above. We used a combination of 3/8 and 1/2 flex head and flex stubby ratchets and flex breaker bar with cheater bars, short & long 18mm sockets to remove the bolts.
the bolts are VERY HARD TO TURN. If I had it to do over again, I would have bought a pneumatic right-angle impact wrench (somethign like chicago pneumatic CP7727) to get the bolts out. They are a pain – I think it took the three of us about 90 minutes to get the bolts out.
once the rack is out, using a caliper, measure the projection of the end of the old steering rack shaft from the inner bearing/seal surface. Turn the steering input shaft on the new rack until you have the same amount of rack projecting from the side of the unit. This is to ensure the new unit goes in centered the same as the old unit came out. Transfer the steering universal joint to the new rack.
Install the new rack and then re-attach the tie rods. The bolts go in MUCH easier with blue locktite gel. We were able to spin them in with a 3/8″ air ratchet.
Re-assembly should proceed smoothly.
You might want to change the oil before you replace the radiator support frame.
Now fire up the forscan again, and write the saved PSCM file to the PSCM.
You should be good to go! I think total cost for replacing the rack was $125 for the rack and $25 for the ELM327 adapter. Not a bad savings over a $2000 dealer repair.
Took us 4 hours. Good luck and Godspeed!