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    Thread: Steering rack clunk or clink? More pre-load?

    1. 03-21-2009 10:51 PM #1
      I have a new noise in my steering system.

      The noise is a clunk (more like a clink) that is audible and is felt through the steering wheel.

      It is not a major noise, just annoying. I only get it when I am steering against a lot of road friction, such as steering on an asphalt parking lot while the car is moving slowly or is stationary.

      Propping the front of the car up with the wheels off the ground, I can re-create the noise if I steer the wheels all the way to one side, giving the wheel a little extra force at the end of travel. That somehow "sets" it up. Then, when I take the wheels all the way to the other end, it will clink at the very end with extra pressure on the steering wheel.

      I have narrowed the noise to the steering rack itself. It is a Meyle rack. 171419063. It has been on about a year and a half.

      I'll try tightening the pinion torque a smidgen tomorrow to try to solve the problem. I don't notice any play in it. I was wondering if anyone else has had the same experience?


      Modified by chickenfriend at 11:58 AM 6-6-2009


    2. Member WackyWabbitRacer's Avatar
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      03-22-2009 12:32 AM #2
      The bottom bearing assembly in the steering column is tight? Correct?

      Cheers, WWR.

      WWR
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    3. 03-22-2009 12:38 AM #3
      Correct.
      Last edited by chickenfriend; 03-18-2012 at 09:33 PM.

    4. Member WackyWabbitRacer's Avatar
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      03-22-2009 12:43 AM #4
      I would definitely check the pre-load and may sure the tie rod ends are good.

      Cheers, WWR.

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    5. 03-22-2009 12:48 AM #5
      The rod ends seem to be good.

      I'll find out tomorrow (oops, it already it tomorrow) if tightening the rack does the trick.


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      03-22-2009 10:40 AM #6
      look at the bushing on the pass side (turn wheel to the far left).. grab the tierod and wiggle it front to back aka car direction (engine/firewall), ive seen new racks wipe out the internal bushing on that side in that time frame.. they dont make good quality anymore..

    7. 04-06-2009 06:12 PM #7
      Thanks for the suggestion!

      Here is an update:

      I tried increasing the pinion torque (gear lash), which seemed to eliminate the noise, but the adjustments made the rack too tight, so I had to back it back down to where it was to begin with.

      I got to wondering about whether the pinion gear is one piece with the input shaft?

      I took apart an old rack and pulled the pinion shaft and gear out. Incidentally, they use sks 6003 bearing around the pinion, which I think is a standard alternator sized bearing.

      I pressed off the bearing and discovered the pinion gear is one-piece with the pinion shaft, so that is reassuring.

      I will have to double-check the inner tie rods.


      Modified by chickenfriend at 1:47 PM 6-6-2009


    8. 04-06-2009 09:16 PM #8
      When you figure it out let me know. Mine is doing the same thing.

    9. 04-07-2009 01:27 AM #9
      I ruled out the universal joint shaft from the steering column. I yanked and yanked on the inner tie rods, but they seem good.

      The only thing I can think of at this point is that maybe the "pinion bearing preload" is insufficient. This would have to be adjusted by removing the input shaft cover and shimming down on the bearing. You probably could mill down the thickess of the cover plate a little and that would do the same thing since the plate, which has a cavity on the cbackside, puts pressure on a little thrust collar the bearing is seated against.

      I am thinking that if the pinion shaft has play, it could slip up or down on the rack, perhaps causing a hammering on the housing in either direction.

      I am not going to mess with it anymore, except for measuring the thickness of the cover plate and compare it to an old one. It's a difficult area of the car to work on.

      In the mist of all the experimenting, I heard some noise out of my passenger side strut mount. It's not that old, about 3 year. It happens when the weight is off the tires and I am steering the wheels back and forth. Kinda sounds like something catching and letting loose. Doesn't affect the steering effort, and the bearings otherwise seem ok.



      Modified by chickenfriend at 1:35 AM 4-7-2009


    10. 04-27-2009 12:25 AM #10
      Any updates on this problem? I thought it might be a loose u-joint bolt somewhere, but I tightened the top and bottom bolts and , no luck. My daughters '84 convertible is doing this and I'd like to fix it before we sell it...soon.

      Thanks.


    11. 04-27-2009 06:52 AM #11
      I was sidetracked from fixing the rack by the worn-out strut mounts. I just replaced the strut mounts.

      The rack still clunks, so I am going to replace it.

      As I stated previously, my last Meyle rack had the shift link brackets welded on incorrectly*.

      Perhaps the lack of manufacturing oversight extended to the internal construction, as well.

      I am guessing that the clunk is due to either a slight mismatch of the teeth of the rack with the pinion teeth, or because of a looseness of the pinion in its bore (bearing pre-load). Something is shifting when the pressure of the pinion gear on the rack increases.

      Perhaps the rack shaft is not being held tighly enough in the rack by the bushing at the end of the housing tube, allowing it to flex in the rack?

      I know it is hard to believe the clunks are NOT being caused by the tie rods; however, I shook down the rods pretty hard and they are tight;moreover, I am able to re-created the noise with both wheels off the ground and the rack stressed against the locknuts only, at wheel lockout on either side.



      My Reference links:

      *Steering Rack Replacement Problem new vs. old?

      Loose steering telescoping column discovery

      U-joint wear diagnosing
      (This has Borgeson specs, note of stock phasing problem)

      Last edited by chickenfriend; 03-18-2012 at 10:52 PM.

    12. 05-03-2009 12:06 AM #12
      Here is an great link that shows how to disassemble a manual rack. He is doing this to install a Quaife quick ratio rack and pinion:

      http://www.hasengeeks.com/proj..._rack

      I read in a non-VW forum that inadequate bearing pre-load for the pinion shaft in a manual rack can cause a clunk since the pinion gear alternately thrusts against the bearing if too slack. The only way I see to adjust this would be to remove the metal disc cover around the pinion shaft and machine some metal off the bottom flat to make more pressure on the bearing.

      The problem could be the ball bearing on the pinion itself, having not been made to specs or worn to the point of allowing play.



      Modified by chickenfriend at 11:47 AM 6-6-2009


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      05-03-2009 12:11 AM #13
      My car has a very similar clunk. I replaced my suspension and blown strut bearings today with no result (they needed replacing anyways, so its all good). In two weeks (once school is over...), I'm replacing tierods and the rack bushings hoping that will solve it.
      Ain't nobody dope as me, I'm dressed, so fresh, so clean, so fresh and so clean clean.

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    14. 05-09-2009 01:13 AM #14
      The verdict on the old rack is in now that I have it off the car and in the vice. It is no good.

      When I turn the pinion shaft, the feel is very rough and unlubricated-like. Adjusting the pinion torque makes no difference; even with a very light pre-load, the roughness is still there.

      I took the pinion cover off. There really isn't any way to adjust the bearing preload there; but that doesn't matter, because the pinion was not loose anyway, so that kills one theory I had.

      The replacement rack I have to put in is the same make, Meyle, but, unlike the old rack, the shift linkage mounting apparatus seems to be more accurately placed and drilled. Another difference is cosmetic: the two covers on the new rack housing are silver colored zinc-plated, while the old rack had yellow dichromate plated covers.

      If you are looking for a quick way to differentiate racks, that may be a simple way. Previously, I mentioned how to make a measurement on the steering linkage bracket to id inaccuracy.

      The new rack, which I bought from GAP, came in the same Meyle box, but with the sticker, "Made in Italy" on the box. Where my old rack was made is anyone's guess, but, judging from preliminary observations, I have reason to hope that this one is going to be less trouble hooking up to the shift linkage, and will last longer than the previous one.

      Last edited by chickenfriend; 03-18-2012 at 09:37 PM.

    15. 05-09-2009 06:14 AM #15
      The way these racks are designed is that the shift linkage support brackets supports are welded to the rack housing.

      While I didn't have to re-drill the hole in the tab that holds the bottom of the relay lever bracket, since it was correctly drilled, I did have to re-use my old homemade shim that I had on my previous rack because the support brackets don't seem to be clocked correctly. This is a 6.5 mm thick shim, similar to an alignment shim with a slot in the middle to allow the 7mm stud through.

      By bending down the bottom tab and by using a shim on the top bracket, I was able to force the relay lever support bracket to a level position, the entire objective being to get the relay lever ball centered in the ball cage.

      I got the old rack out by passing it through the passenger side tie rod hole in the body. There is a slot in the hole there, apparently, just so the pinion shaft will pass through! I did have to remove the driver's side tie rod, however, but the passenger side rod stayed on.

      I did not have to remove the downpipe, thank goodness!!

      Similarly, I re-installed my passenger side rod on the rack outside the car. The driver's side tie rod was assembled with the rack roughly in position but not yet mounted securely.

      I need to check the tie rod to rack distance once more to get the rack centered (as assembled), to ensure that the steering wheel does not need to be clocked on the steering shaft.

      Then I will roughly line toe. I may switch to my spares for fronts on the way to the alignment rack so bad toe will not scrub all the rubber off.

      Getting the U-joint over the steering pinion shaft is difficult. I have had this problem before. First, the split in the joint lines up perpendicularly with the notch cut into the pinion shaft for the bolt. The U-joint does not want to slip down the shaft easily. If it does not cover the threads on the other side of the bolt groove, it will need to be tapped on. I used a short round rod to go between the U-joint in order to hold up the rubber joint boot so I could see where to tap with a long prypar and hammer.

      If the U-joint does not sufficiently mate to the pinion shaft, the U-joint will wobble. If the clamp bolt binds when you put it in, you may have put the collar on a little bit too far down on the shaft. I didn't try to beat the coupling all the way down the pinion shaft, just enough to catch the splines on the other side of the goove.

      I don't like it that I had to tap the u-joint on the shaft, but there is not much choice. The only other way I see to do it is to remove the u-joint shaft from the steering column and installed it on the rack out of the car. Then it would be easy to expand the collar with a chisel or wedge so it slips on without force.


      Modified by chickenfriend at 5:13 PM 9-16-2009


    16. 05-09-2009 06:57 AM #16
      One major advantage of the all-cast aluminum rack-and-pinion that VW used on a few years, is that you don't have this nightmare of the shift brackets being clocked incorrectly by the welder.

      I disassembled the problem rack. The bearings looked good. The problem was with the meshing of the teeth of the rack with the pinion. I found that when I rolled the pinion along the rack by hand, I could feel places where the pinion would seize in the teeth! That's why the turning was rough. I expect somehow that relates to the noise I was hearing.

      I am sure it would take an expert to determine the exact cause of the problem, such as the possiblity that the rack teeth were not cut exactly right, or that there was inadequate lubrication in the gear.


      Modified by chickenfriend at 10:13 PM 5-12-2009


    17. 05-11-2009 09:41 AM #17
      Thanks for sharing man! Some great info in here.
      I have noticed that my u-joints seem to fit loosly on the steering column and the steering rack end. I've tried cranking clamping bolt tighter but there is still play. Checking some other u-joints in my collection revealed the same thing.
      Any input would be appreciated.
      Thanks,
      RJ

    18. 05-11-2009 01:33 PM #18
      Thank you.

      Actually, what you mention is a big problem I have had myself.

      The first thing I suggest is that you examine how far the U-joint collar is inserted over the shaft. My guess is that you don't have it on far enough.

      My gripe about the U-joints is that they don't like to expand once the clamping bolt is removed. That means when you try to slide it back on the shafts, either the steering column or the pinion shaft of the gearbox, it only wants to go on partially.

      That is especially a problem with the steering shaft, because if you apply the necessary force to set it on the shaft, you can actually break the crimp-fit where the two collapsible pieces fit. Then you have a shortened or lengthened shaft, which means the shaft needs to be reset to the proper length and somehow you have to re-crimp the fit without ending up with a non-collapsible shaft.

      I have found that the joint naturally only wants to go as far as the end of the width of the centering groove that allows the bolt some clearance to pass to the other side of the collar. I think most people naturally would stop there, since at that point the bolt will pass.

      However, the collar needs to slide on just a little more that that (I really need a pic to illustrate this), i.e., I'd just guess off the top of my head, about an 1/8" past the groove. There, the collar has enough bite on the shaft to prevent wobbling, and the bolt will pass through without binding.

      As I mentioned with the steering rack pinion shaft, I had to use a long prybar against the U-joint collar to get an angle to tap the collar on past the groove. You do not want to overdo it. Otherwise, something might get damaged or you will have to tap it in the reverse direction so the bolt will pass through.

      The bolt has a torque spec of 22 ft lbs. It is impossible to get a torque wrench to it, however, unless the U-shaft and rack are off the car.
      if you get the collar on enough, you realize not much clamping force is necessary!

      I don't yet have a solution to the problem of getting the collar adequately on the steering shaft. It is impossible to pry open the collar with any sort of conventional tool when the U-shaft is in the car.

      I'd almost recommend removing the entire U-joint shaft from the car when doing the lower column bearings. That way, the collar can be expanded with a thin chisel and hammer, so it will slide enough over the steering shaft with just hand force. You would also need to expand it on the other end, so you don't have to beat it on the rack, either.

      I may invent a special tool to expand the u-joint when it is in the car. It would be a C-clamp with a wedge brazed on the moving pad. The wedge would be taken off a bolt-splitter tool. The wedge would fit into the expansion slot of the U-joint and you could spread it without beating it.



      Modified by chickenfriend at 5:15 PM 9-16-2009


    19. 05-11-2009 01:36 PM #19
      Thanks for sharing.

      I too have a click in the steering. But I'm thinking it's the bearing.
      My click is in the first 3" or so of turning the wheel.

      I have a steering rack from Germany if you need any pictures for comparison....it's not on the car yet.


    20. 05-11-2009 01:52 PM #20
      Thanks. I have two old racks now, so I can get a pic of the shaft to illustrate the minimum engagement depth for the collar.

      Think about it, if the collar stops at the groove, without engaging the shaft past the groove, then you are basically tightening the end of the collar into the groove space where it is not going to do anything except draw the collar in even more--against nothing----making it harder to get on the next time.

      Clicks in the column can be either the lower bearing, the upper bearing, or the telescoping shafts. The shafts can get loose with respect to each other, especially if the factory failed to crimp the shafts as it did with mine. In that case, there is only a little injected plastic to keep things rigid.

      If there is even a little play in the U-joint, you can get a click from that, usually when you let off the steering wheel while making a turn causing a backlash. That play is easy to diagnose using two vice grips on either side of the joint.

      I've fixed noise from the upper bearing sometimes by staking the shaft under the bearing fitting collar, and by adjusting the up-and-down position of the bearing assembly in the adjusting slot, clamped by the allen bolt.

      I posted about the telescoping shaft problem last year or so, having had that problem.


      Modified by chickenfriend at 2:01 PM 5-11-2009


    21. 05-12-2009 10:17 PM #21
      Minor update:

      I filed a complaint letter to a US Meyle representative describing my past and present problems with Meyle racks. We will see what happens. I am particularly interested if they have a warranty.

      I have some pics showing the difference in the shape and slant cut of the teeth in the aftermarket Meyle compared to an original rack. I don't know whether that should necessarily be a problem, but whenever something gets changed, I think it is worth looking into when problems crop up.

      Just need to get my OS upgraded to upload my pics.


      Modified by chickenfriend at 10:27 PM 5-12-2009


    22. 05-13-2009 01:33 AM #22
      Quote, originally posted by chickenfriend »
      Thanks. I have two old racks now, so I can get a pic of the shaft to illustrate the minimum engagement depth for the collar.

      Think about it, if the collar stops at the groove, without engaging the shaft past the groove, then you are basically tightening the end of the collar into the groove space where it is not going to do anything except draw the collar in even more--against nothing----making it harder to get on the next time.

      Clicks in the column can be either the lower bearing, the upper bearing, or the telescoping shafts. The shafts can get loose with respect to each other, especially if the factory failed to crimp the shafts as it did with mine. In that case, there is only a little injected plastic to keep things rigid.

      If there is even a little play in the U-joint, you can get a click from that, usually when you let off the steering wheel while making a turn causing a backlash. That play is easy to diagnose using two vice grips on either side of the joint.

      I've fixed noise from the upper bearing sometimes by staking the shaft under the bearing fitting collar, and by adjusting the up-and-down position of the bearing assembly in the adjusting slot, clamped by the allen bolt.

      I posted about the telescoping shaft problem last year or so, having had that problem.


      Modified by chickenfriend at 2:01 PM 5-11-2009

      Well thanks very much for that information!


    23. 05-13-2009 08:39 AM #23
      I also noted that the teeth on the new Meyle racks were cut differently than the teeth on my original VW rack. I have a pic illustrating that difference. I don't know whether that is important, but I always question why a change like that was made, and if it were a good change.



      Modified by chickenfriend at 4:50 PM 5-15-2009

    24. 05-15-2009 04:54 PM #24
      Minor update:

      Here is a drawing I made to have sent to MEYLE of the problem with the upper shift lever bracket support bracket on the 171419063 MEYLE steering rack and pinion.

      There was a problem with the location of the bottom hole shown, but I am told this has been corrected on later racks.

      If you have replaced your rack lately, and your relay rubber ball is binding in the cage, you can do what I did and make a 6.5mm U shim to level the relay arm bracket.



      Modified by chickenfriend at 9:35 PM 10-2-2009


    25. 05-17-2009 10:52 PM #25
      Here are some illustrative pictures of the misplaced top bracket.

      I have had this problem with a rack purchased in 2007 and one 2009.

      The first one shows the gap needed to be taken up.

      The second one shows my homemade 6.5mm shim to fit in the gap, and the third shows how the modification results in the relay ball being centered in the cage:






      What you want is the rubber ball to be centered in the shaft cage, just like this:


      Last edited by chickenfriend; 03-18-2012 at 09:42 PM.

    26. 05-18-2009 12:45 AM #26
      Awesome thanks!

    27. 06-02-2009 06:46 PM #27
      Quote, originally posted by chickenfriend »
      I also noted that the teeth on the new Meyle racks were cut differently than the teeth on my original VW rack. I have a pic illustrating that difference. I don't know whether that is important, but I always question why a change like that was made, and if it were a good change.i]

      Here is a picture of the rack bars, as promised. Top bar is rack from a 1984 Rabbit rack and pinion, stock. These had an all-cast aluminum housing. Bottom is from a new Meyle rack 1.5 years old. Note differences in teeth slant and cut:

      The two recent Meyle racks I have had made a knocking noise in backlash. The way to test this is to turn the wheels to the left, and grab the rack bar on the driver's side, between the rack housing and the tie rod joint. While someone is jerking the wheel a little to make the backlash noise, pull on the rack bar. This is basically adding preload. The noise will disappear completely. I never noticed this on my original rack, not to say it wasn't there.

      Here's is the rolling test I did on my 1.5 year old Meyle rack. Even with light pressure, I could feel the pinion teeth binding in the rack. Doing the same test to the stock 1984 rack, there was no binding whatsoever. The 1984 rack had about 120,000 miles on it before it was removed:

      My only way to explain the noise problem and the binding problem with the Meyle racks is that the teeth/pinion do not match as well as they should. So, if the manufacturer puts the pre-load at specs, the teeth are not meshing with the rack enough to prevent excess backlash.



      Modified by chickenfriend at 8:17 PM 6-2-2009


    28. 06-06-2009 11:40 AM #28
      I noticed that CARDONE makes a re-manufactured manual steering rack and pinion unit for these cars.

      I presume that is what places like Autozone will carry. According to pictures on the Cardone website, it looks like they are using the half-steel/ half aluminum style racks as rebuilding cores.

      I am told that, often, rebuilt steering racks, especially power steering, are better quality than originals, although I know nothing of this particular brand.

      It would be interesting to compare the rack teeth of the Cardone unit to the Meyle.

      I called the local VW parts department and was told a 171419063 sells for $1,203.94.


      Modified by chickenfriend at 12:12 PM 6-6-2009


    29. Member dalba4's Avatar
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      09-02-2009 11:04 PM #29
      not that it matters as this thread is dead.

      Had same problem with Meyle rack.

      definitely endemic to Meyle's crap.

      thinking time to the quick ratio stuff.

      Sell your VW, buy a Saab. They are way more fun.

    30. 09-04-2009 06:19 AM #30
      Did you return the Meyle rack?

    31. Member dalba4's Avatar
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      09-05-2009 03:08 PM #31
      nope.

      I've heard enough from people administering warantees.

      We're a nitch market, not worth the time and energy. my recommendation is:

      take it apart, and refurb it yourself.

      I remember a fun trick GM used to use.

      100K warantee. read the fine print, engine seals are not covered by the warantee just mechanical engine parts. you'd show up with a blown motor, and they'd simply say oh see all the seals are leaking, so that caused the engine failure, not under warantee.

      I'm sure some lawsuits followed, and I can imagine some people even won, but this is a completely different thing, and I just trash Meyle, and won't buy their parts.

      Sell your VW, buy a Saab. They are way more fun.

    32. 09-06-2009 01:32 AM #32
      Quote, originally posted by dalba4 »
      take it apart, and refurb it yourself.

      I would agree that is a good idea. If one could find a new rack and pinion, and perhaps the guide bushing, those would be easy to replace.

      I expect a source could be found for those with enough digging, like find out if you can get them from the reman folks like Cardone.

      I'd like to re-use my old cast aluminum case, put a grease fitting or two in it, and pack it with high temp grease.


    33. Member dalba4's Avatar
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      09-06-2009 01:37 PM #33
      yeah i understand you can get new R&P with an auotech or quaife kit, reduces the lock to lock as well.

      I like your idea about the zerk fittings.

      grease just going to push the end of the rack right under the boots at the end of the case.?

      Sell your VW, buy a Saab. They are way more fun.

    34. 09-07-2009 02:00 AM #34
      Quote, originally posted by dalba4 »
      I like your idea about the zerk fittings. grease just going to push the end of the rack right under the boots at the end of the case.?

      There is a sealing bushing on the passenger side of the rack housing, but true the other end is open into the boot.

      With a full packing in some high temp (being close to the exhaust) synthetic grease, there might be little need for zerks.


    35. Member dalba4's Avatar
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      09-07-2009 10:10 PM #35
      grease never hurts. it's just messy.
      Sell your VW, buy a Saab. They are way more fun.

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