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Car Steering Gearbox: Symptoms, When to Replace it, and Price

A car’s steering gearbox plays a crucial role in your driving experience, as it is responsible for the precision and control of a vehicle.

Recognising the symptoms of a problematic steering gearbox is essential to maintaining safe, efficient driving.

Keep reading to find out more about the telltale signs of a problematic component, get guidance on when to consider replacing it, and an overview of the possible costs involved.

 

What is a Gearbox?

A steering gearbox is a fundamental component within any vehicle’s steering system and is responsible for transmitting steering wheel movement to the car wheels.

 

What is a Steering Gearbox for?

A car’s steering gearbox allows the driver to control the direction the vehicle drives in by converting the rotary movement of the steering wheel into linear motion.

Transmitting this movement to the car’s wheels leads to the vehicle turning.

It, therefore, makes it possible to turn the wheels left or right as desired, providing control and manoeuvrability.

 

Which Components make up the Steering Gearbox?

A car’s steering gearbox comprises several components that work together to allow the driver to steer their vehicle. Some of the main components include:

  • Steering gearbox: where the rotary movement of the flywheel is transformed into a linear movement that directs the wheels;
  • Steering rods: rods that connect the box to the vehicle’s wheels, transmitting movement to the wheels and allowing them to turn left or right;
  • Suspension arms and steering terminals: connected to the ends of the steering rods and wheels. They help to move the wheels according to the movement transmitted by the steering gearbox;
  • Axial Terminal: connects the steering bar to the wheel and allows the rotational movement required to steer the wheels;
  • Steering shock absorbers: some vehicles have steering dampers, which help absorb unwanted vibrations and shocks in the steering.

These are some of the main components of the steering gearbox, but depending on the type of steering system and the vehicle (if it’s an electric car or motorcycle, for example), the components and specific design may vary.

 

 

What Types of Gearboxes Are There?

Steering gearboxes are essential components in ensuring the safety and precision of a vehicle’s steering. There are five types of steering systems, each with specific characteristics that influence how a vehicle is driven:

 

Mechanical Gearbox

In this system, the car’s steering rack contains a toothed rack and a pinion that is connected to the steering wheel.

When you turn the steering wheel, the pinion moves the rack, directing the wheels.

 

Hydraulic Gearbox

Hydraulic systems, which are also known as power steering, help you turn your vehicle.

They generally use a hydraulic pump to pump power steering oil around the gearbox. This makes steering lighter, especially at low speeds and when manoeuvring.

 

Electric Gearbox

This system uses an electric motor to provide steering assistance.

Instead of relying on hydraulic fluid, assistance is electronically controlled, providing a lighter and more responsive driving experience.

In addition, it is more efficient in terms of energy consumption.

 

Electro-Hydraulic Gearbox

This system combines elements of both hydraulic and electric power steering.

It uses a hydraulic system to generate the steering assistance, but the hydraulic pressure is electronically controlled, providing the advantages of both technologies.

 

Motorbike Gearbox

This structure allows drivers to steer their motorbike, which usually has steering dampers.

There can generally be divided into two types:

  1. Linear: the most common type of box in motorbikes. It reduces the impact on the front of the bike, especially when driving over road surfaces with potholes. This type is widely used for competitions;
  2. Radial: these are usually installed at the factory as standard on low- and medium-displacement motorcycles. They have a lower friction area than linear dampers, allowing for easier handling.

 

 

What is the most Common Problem faced in Steering Gearboxes?

When it comes to vehicle steering systems, one of the most common problems faced is internal component wear, especially in car rack and pinion steering gearboxes.

 

What are the Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Steering Gearbox?

Some of the most common symptoms of a breakdown are:

  • Oil leaks;
  • Loose steering;
  • Abnormal noises;
  • Steering misalignment;
  • Difficulties in turning the steering wheel.

 

What do Noises in the Steering Gearbox Mean?

It indicates problems in this system, though different causes will lead to different noises.

For example, clicking or popping noises may indicate loose components, while creaks may be due to a lack of lubrication or component wear, such as that of bearings.

Regardless of the type of noise, you should consult a qualified mechanic for an accurate diagnosis and solution.

 

What are the Symptoms of a Loose Steering Gearbox?

The main indicators of this component being loose are:

  • Wheel misalignment;
  • Difficulty steering;
  • Excessive movement of the steering wheel;
  • Lack of accuracy in front wheel steering.

Since having a loose steering gearbox is dangerous, you should contact your mechanic as quickly as possible.

 

 

How do you Repairing a Gearbox?

The repair may vary depending on the type of problem encountered. However, the steps for repairing steering gearboxes include:

  1. A detailed inspection to identify the specific problem, whether it is loose, there is internal component wear or fluid leaks, among others;
  2. Disassembling the car’s steering gearbox to access internal components (other parts of the vehicle may also need to be disassembled);
  3. Replacing worn parts;
  4. Repairing or adjusting components to resolve problems such as a loose or misaligned gearbox;
  5. Lubrication and assembly once parts have been replaced or repaired, according to the manufacturer’s specifications;
  6. Test the steering alignment following the repair to ensure that the system works properly.

 

Does it make sense to Recondition your Steering Gearbox?

Reconditioning a car’s steering gearbox involves restoring or repairing existing components instead of completely replacing it with a new one.

This may include replacing worn parts, grinding gears, cleaning it, applying proper lubrication, and other restoration processes.

However, completely replacing parts may be the safest and longest-lasting option in some cases.

 

How Much Does a Gearbox Cost?

The cost of this component can vary from tens to thousands of euros. The price will depend on the model, brand, and other specifications.

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