Q: Is my rack opinion damaged?

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Very loose steering. Squel noise but decrease when attempting to stop. Would turn but will have to hook steering wheel to prevent running off yellow lines while driving. Now completely won't steer. Tires won't turn one bit.

My car has 138000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

The rack and pinion gear set does two things: It converts the rotational motion of the steering wheel into the linear motion needed to turn the wheels. It also provides a gear reduction, making it easier to turn the wheels by the use of reduction gears where the steering shaft connects.

This system uses a torsion bar driven valve to direct and relieve pressure in a cylinder. When the steering wheel is not being turned, the steering valve is at rest. In this position fluid flows around the valve and out to the reservoir which is where the power steering fluid resides when not at work.

Slight pressure also enters both sides of the assist cylinder. Because pressure is equal on both sides of the piston nothing occurs when the wheel is straight and no assistance is need to turn the wheels either way.

To avoid any unnecessary repairs, I would recommend having an expert from YourMechanic come to your home to diagnose your car’s steering issue.

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