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When your car develops problems, you’ll likely find it tells you by making unexpected noises. One such part of your Infiniti which can let you know audibly of a problem is the steering rack. Let’s take a close look at this component and some of the reasons why it can start making noises.

How the Steering Rack Works

The steering rack, also known as the rack and pinion steering system, is what interprets the left or right turn of the steering wheel into the left or right turn of the vehicle. When you turn the wheel, the steering column pinion gear turns too. This component connects with the gears found in the steering rack and will turn in a direction that will allow the steering rack to either turn left or right.

In modern cars with power steering, pressurized fluid is used within the steering rack system which helps the driver to turn the wheels more easily. This fluid also serves the secondary purpose of cooling down the gears in the system, which can get quite hot with friction. This also helps reduce damage and part wear.

Why the Steering Rack May Produce Noises

When the steering rack and its connected parts start to fail, they’ll find supporting the weight of your Infiniti a challenge when turning the wheels. Of course, good maintenance will keep the parts working for much longer. Over time, they will start to become worn and show signs of failure, the most common of which is odd noises. Let’s look at what can cause this to happen.

Dry Jounce Bushing
The front strut of the steering system has a jounce bushing. This helps to absorb vibrations and protect the strut. However, when the bushing starts to become worn and dry out, it will cause creaky or groaning noises. The longer you leave this problem, the worse it will become.

Power Steering Rack Problems
The power steering rack itself can also fail and will produce a whining noise when this happens. The noise will most commonly be heard when driving at reduced speed. If the steering rack is fine, then you’ll need to investigate the vane pump or the belt.

Strut or Shock Failure
The struts and the shocks are intended to last a long time, but in the case of older or second hand Infinitis, you may experience worn out shocks or struts which may cause your car to bounce when cornering as well as make noise.

Wear to the Steering Column Bearing
A loud grinding or rubbing sound when cornering can indicate wear to the steering column bearing. When the bearing is worn, it can allow the plastic on the back of the steering wheel to rub against the steering column’s cowling. Hot weather can exacerbate this issue, as it causes parts to expand thus increasing friction.

Failure of Tie Rod Ends
The tie rods are needed to allow the wheels to turn when you aim the steering wheel. When the tie rods are worn, you’ll hear a knocking sound, particularly when your Infiniti turns slowly.

Ball Joint Wear
Ball joints are needed to allow the control arms and steering knuckles to move. They use lubricant to do this. When the lubricant expires or the joints get dry, they will start to produce noise and may cause your steering wheel to shake.

Failed Suspension Bushing
Bushing is needed to absorb sound and movement from the suspension. When they become worn, you’ll hear creaking when turning.

Leaking Power Steering Fluid
As mentioned, the power steering fluid is needed to make turning easier and lubricate the steering system. When there is a leak, noises will be heard.

Clogs in the Steering Reservoir Tank
The power steering fluid is kept in a reservoir tank. This tank has a filter to catch any debris that the power steering fluid collects when circulating the system. When the filter gets clogged, you’ll also hear sounds when you turn.

Professional Automotive

At Professional Automotive of Marlborough, MA we have a team of expert mechanics on hand to help you and your Infiniti with its steering rack sounds as well as any other problems you may discover. Call our customer service team to find out more about the services we offer and to book your first appointment.