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HICAS steering rack... do I need a rebuild or is it toast?

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  • HICAS steering rack... do I need a rebuild or is it toast?

    Just got a HICAS rack in the mail today.

    First thing I noticed was the clear fluid dripping out from where the lines go. Definitely not ATF.

    Then I check to see if it is a true HICAS rack. Without the inner tie rods I get maybe 3.3 turns from stop to stop. 2.8 turns with the inner rods attatched. Also has the 53F stamp that the early 90's models have so I'm guessing it is a true HICAS rack.

    As I was checking the ratio I noticed there is a flat spot or a dip when the shaft is near centered. The shaft rolls fine until I hit that dip.... it gets kinda stuck there. As I press harder it rolls over this dip and continues to roll fine. It's almost like a tooth is missing or something.

    When the shaft is sitting in this dip it has some play in it.... I can move it around slightly from side to side. It feels solid any other time.

    Has anyone experienced this? Any ideas what would cause this? Would a rebuild solve this or is this rack done?

    Also I have some ES bushings for the rack but the odd shaped one has about a 1/2" gap when I try wraping it around the rack.... is this normal or do I need different bushings?

    Last edited by marcinko; 05-26-2010, 01:47 AM.

  • #2
    Never felt a rack that had a rough spot or any real play - I'm thinking that's NOT a good sign.

    The ~2.7-2.8 turns lock to lock with inner tie rods on it means it's a HICAS rack.

    My S13 ES bushings which I had previously on an "unwashed masses" regular S13 steering rack fit just fine on my HICAS rack.
    '18 Chevrolet Volt - Electric fun hatch for DD duty!

    DefSport Koni Sleeve and Spring Perch Buy!!!


    • #3
      Just inspected it again. It's really not THAT bad. Just kinda noticable in that one spot. When looking at it upright the shaft moves up and down very slightly when rolling over that spot.

      The seller said it sat for about 3 months but it was smooth and never leaked when he had it on his car. I told him about this and he suggested filling it with fluid and trying it out.

      It was pretty cheap so I'm thinking about just trying it out unless I can find a place that will rebuild it for a decent price...

      I'll try ordering the s13 ES bushings.


      Edit: Thinking of rebuilding the rack myself. Any info on where to buy a rebuild kit would be great.
      Last edited by marcinko; 05-26-2010, 02:31 AM.


      • #4
        power steering fluid is mostly clear.


        • #5
          I'm assuming the play is when the wheel would be near centered? I've seen that happen on cars where people drive for a long time with something else bad in the front suspension. the wheel sits there and wobbles and vibrates while going down the road and it puts additional wear on the steering gear in that spot.

          You could try replacing the pinion shaft, but I would think if it's on the pinion that you would have play in it in the same spot on every rotation. If you're having play in only one spot through the range of motion, then the play is in the rack itself..
          Each rack & pinion are about $160 each at Courtesy.. so you could replace both for a cost of $320ish. but by the time you pay for a seal replacement kit and everything else to rebuild it, you'd probably have been better off buying a new OEM rack from Nissan for $650!
          Originally posted by SoSideways
          I don't care what color they are as long as they are LONG AND HARD.
          '04 G35 Sedan 6MT- The DD
          '96 240SX- The Track Toy


          • #6
            I'm thinking about this project when I get some more free time.

            Purchase hicas ring and pinion from nissan ($140)
            take apart my extra non hicas rack
            remove all power steering stuff.
            remove all power steering fluid
            reassemble with hicas ring and pinion and seal
            hope to have a non power steering hicas front rack for the cost of $140, and my time?

            It does not sound too far fetched to me.


            • #7
              Try again. You need HICAS pinion AND rack (the part with the gear teef on it.) each part is $160ish, so you're looking at $320, plus seals/rebuild parts.
              Originally posted by SoSideways
              I don't care what color they are as long as they are LONG AND HARD.
              '04 G35 Sedan 6MT- The DD
              '96 240SX- The Track Toy


              • #8
                I seriously hate it when sellers don't tell you everything or just don't care enough to check.

                Im tempted to take the thing apart and have a look at what's really causing this.

                Would it be hard to put back together without the proper tools? I have a lot of tools just not the ones listed in the FSM for this.

                Any ideas where to get a rebuild kit?


                Edit: Just called a local steering rack specialty shop. The guy said it's probably not a big deal and that racks typically have a "tight spot" near the center. I'm gonna bring it by their shop tomorrow so he can have a look at it.... only thing that sucks is it's about $250 if they end up doing work to it.
                Last edited by marcinko; 05-26-2010, 03:14 PM.


                • #9
                  $250, rebuilt rack. I'd do it.


                  • #10
                    Wow, I wish I could have found a local steering rack shop around here.



                    • #11
                      Well it depends... $250 is for replacement of the seals and what ever else they can tune and fix up.

                      If they have to replace either the rack or the pinion it will end up costing a ton more.

                      Hopefully it's not a big deal... we'll see what the shop says tomorrow.


                      • #12
                        Add that to whatever price you paid for the rack too. if you have to add $250 + pinion assy, it might be cheaper overall to sell it for the price you paid and buy a new OEM rack.
                        Originally posted by SoSideways
                        I don't care what color they are as long as they are LONG AND HARD.
                        '04 G35 Sedan 6MT- The DD
                        '96 240SX- The Track Toy


                        • #13
                          The rack I have on my car is fine besides a very slight leak at the drivers side bellow.... I just wanted to try out a HICAS rack. I might end up just sending it back to the seller and continue looking for another HICAS rack.

                          I shined a flashlight down into the cylinder and watched as it rolls over that flat spot. The pinion stays put... the rack is what moves... I can see how the tensioner is pressing on the rack giving it tension... it's like the rack has a dip in one of the teeth.... but when the tooth side is extended it looks perfectly fine.

                          If there was something wrong with the pinion I'd imagine I'd feel that same dip every rotation.
                          Last edited by marcinko; 05-27-2010, 01:07 PM.


                          • #14
                            If there is a tooth that's more worn than the others, you may be able to put some weld on it, and then cut it to shape with a cutoff wheel. Kinda crude, but it could work if you take your time and measure carefully.

                            I'd try it right before I would order a new rack...


                            • #15
                              It's toast.

                              I'll PM you my address and you can ship to me. I'll dispose of it properly, and I'll even cover the shipping expenses.