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rack and pinion problem

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Jul 12, 2016, 10:18 AM

Post #1 of 13 (823 views)
rack and pinion problem Sign In

My son in law is driving a 2009 Kia Borrego. He is telling me the steering
wheel is off center and keeps getting farther out of whack as time goes
by. I checked and it has rack and pinion.

His wife who is my daughter took it to a mechanic at midas muffler. He
wants to replace tie rod ends and the rack and pinion because it seemed
to be leaking a little. She really has no idea about anything and I hate
to see her taken advantage of.

Since guy told him it could cost 2,000+ and rebuilding the entire front end should not
cost that much I told him to take it to another guy I know for a second opinion.

Can the rack and pinion actually cause this problem. It is high dollar. I will hate to find
out it needs a new rack and pinion if it is just dirty and that it can be adjusted.

Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
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Jul 12, 2016, 10:48 AM

Post #2 of 13 (819 views)
Re: rack and pinion problem Sign In

"He said, She said" isn't going to work. It should go for a REAL alignment where all is checked (should be or can't align it) and end up with a "centered" steering wheel. That's protocol for an alignment OR tell you what's worn or too bad to get a good alignment,


Hammer Time
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
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Jul 12, 2016, 10:54 AM

Post #3 of 13 (817 views)
Re: rack and pinion problem Sign In

Steering systems don't usually go off center on their own. It's possible that the rack is moving in the bushings but it's more likely that something is rusted and broken or bent from impact.

I wouldn't be driving it until you get some accurate answers.


We offer help in answering questions, clarifying things or giving advice but we are not a substitute for an on-site inspection by a professional.

kev2 profile image

Jul 12, 2016, 11:03 AM

Post #4 of 13 (814 views)
Re: rack and pinion problem Sign In

you need a second opinion.... Suggest a independent (alignment) shop not a muffler shop


Jul 12, 2016, 11:16 AM

Post #5 of 13 (809 views)
Re: rack and pinion problem Sign In

Yeah it's at another shop. I did not tell her to take it to midas. Midas is close to
her house. The shop I told her to take it to does good work and I have used
them off and on for the last 10 years. They are very honest, reliable and reasonable.

I don't drive it and my son n law is a Russian so it is really hard to communicate
with about his car problems. I am feeling better since Hammertime said that the
rack and pinion is probably not be the source of the problem.

Kinda hard to figure out where the 2000 dollar estimate came from. Truck is not
worth more more than that. My daughter probably ran over something and bent
something. I will have a better idea in the next couple days.

Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
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Jul 12, 2016, 11:51 AM

Post #6 of 13 (807 views)
Re: rack and pinion problem Sign In

It has to be looked at by the right shop that does this work and or affiliated with shops to do the alignment when fixed. That's what the scoop is where I am - doubt alone with these things.

Midas once was a "Muffler" shop only really but made their own pipes and think still do plus take on more and more out of their original game plan IMO a bit too far.

Finding the right comprehensive independent shop is what I suggest to folks. Some things will be dealer only and if you are a regular at a place should tell you just that.

It's a lost sport - know you shop, who is working on YOUR vehicle about like you would a doctor. It makes for a good understanding customer and shop AND the tech if happy say so - find out who pleased you.

Already said that if this problem is getting worse it's trouble and driving it at all probably not good! If just tire going slowly flat it would pull and send steering off till that made itself clear. Rule out what a car owner should be paying attention to, tire pressure is one. Matching tires and by wear counts but not getting worse at some rate IMO for this.

You are trying to help which is great. Locally I'm not too crazy about chain store repair places but doesn't mean the exact people you deal with at one are not totally qualified for what they do.

Get the right shop as if this was just a bent something I don't think it would be getting worse noticeably just from that?



Jul 12, 2016, 12:56 PM

Post #7 of 13 (804 views)
Re: rack and pinion problem Sign In

I know the mechanic that is looking at it. He went to school to become a mechanic.
He first worked at Firestone and then opened his own shop. He has the equipment to
align the front end. I have had him work on a lot of cars and I think he is about as
good as I could find unless I took it back to KIA.

Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
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Jul 12, 2016, 1:19 PM

Post #8 of 13 (802 views)
Re: rack and pinion problem Sign In

Perfect - Nothing better than the personal contact and knowing WHO you are dealing with - not just some brand named place.

Off Topic - started first full time job at a Ford Dealer, credentials up the butt but place was losing it - insane owner. The other techs I wouldn't let grease the wheels of a shopping cart! In short the name doesn't tell is all I mean the exact tech does + how the place runs so I prefer independent shops.

So soon on my own, my own shop! Then you get to know people, the habits that might cause issues and if something is going to be costly know if they care or know to suggest moving on to another car - loved it that way.

That is missing from too much of everything out there whatever the biz.

Know a good plumber? I sure don't! What a horror show last idiot did to my house! Never mind,



Jul 14, 2016, 8:17 AM

Post #9 of 13 (778 views)
Re: rack and pinion problem Sign In

Talked to the mechanic. It needs a new $325 rack and pinion. He is going
to align the front end too another 80 plus $350 labor. That's about 3 or
4 hours. I have no idea what the book says as time required to put on a
rack and pinion. I know for an old fart like me it will take probably twice as

I do want to pay him the going rate so he can stay in business.
I know it cost a lot for a shop to keep its doors open but I don't want him to get
ripped off. I figure he may be charging my daughter $100 more for labor
just because he knows he has my business because I have brought him a lot
of business and have told him I trust him. That's ok to a point.

Still better than the Midas $2000 quote they made to my
daughter. My daughter told me when another mechanic wanted to do the
quote the guy who ended up doing the quote shooed him off and told him "I got it".

I have seen that before when I was back in the shop when the mechanics were
discussing greasing my wheel bearings. I took it to them because of a special
they were running. One mechanic wanted the job because his bonus for the
prior week was bad and he thought he could talk me into speeding a lot more. He
said I will just tell him I need to rebuild the entire front end and do a complete
brake job. He said to the other mechanic "where is the owner I talk to him"
I said right over here. Just do the work I brought the car in for. After
hearing their conversation I have zero trust in anything they told me. The car
did not have that many miles on it and the tires were wearing fine and the brake
were not worn out.

In a shop you reputation is all you have. If you ever appear to be a clip
joint word will get out and you will go out of business and the mechanics
won't get any bonuses.

(This post was edited by jackx on Jul 14, 2016, 8:18 AM)

Tom Greenleaf
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Jul 14, 2016, 9:15 AM

Post #10 of 13 (771 views)
Re: rack and pinion problem Sign In

Things sounding much better - great.

How long with now about a 9 year old vehicle (could be) a job takes by the book is out the window as I see it. Some just will take more time and tools to fight with stuff you don't for the first few years where I am if cars/vehicles are driven in the damg acidic, most corrosive salted road plastic RUSTS! It washes grease out of things if it can.

Not funny but a shop I've been associated with for ages (alignments) the dang probably $100K machine needs new ramps just from the salted clots that fall off vehicles!

Ask a tech if you go off topic would they do this trade all over again if they could hit the "reset" button? Most will say NO! NEVER!

It's costly and takes time to learn it which is ever changing never mind tools - never enough and always need something more. That's on the tech if a hand tool and on the shop if larger stuff - both cost just sitting there plus rent/taxes/insurance and a list of other mandatory costs per month whether you work or not. Brutal.

Give them their due and expect all things fair both ways. A good trade person doesn't need to pad a bill. There's enough crap in need out there you shouldn't have to think like that.

Sounds much better. Said I'm not thrilled with chain auto repair joints yet some can be excellent. IMO less chance though?


Hammer Time
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
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Jul 14, 2016, 12:59 PM

Post #11 of 13 (767 views)
Re: rack and pinion problem Sign In

I'd be curious as to their explanation on how the rack is causing the steering wheel center position to change.


We offer help in answering questions, clarifying things or giving advice but we are not a substitute for an on-site inspection by a professional.

(This post was edited by Hammer Time on Jul 14, 2016, 12:59 PM)


Jul 14, 2016, 3:00 PM

Post #12 of 13 (760 views)
Re: rack and pinion problem Sign In

I did my best to find out but my son in law is hard to understand because
he grew up in Russia.

I got really no where when i asked him other than the steering wheel was
not centered. I've never driven it.

The mechanic told me it drove like an old truck with worn out steering
problems. He said the steering wheel had a lot of slope in it because the
rack and pinion was screwed up..That's about all I could get out of him .
Sounds to me that driving it was causing him to wrestle with the steering
wheel like I had to do to drive old trucks years ago that did
not have power steering.

The rack and pinion might have a problem causing it not to circulate oil
under pressure to one side of the rack and pinion piston. That would cause it
to pull to the left or right and maybe that would be interpreted as not
the steering wheel is not centered because if you allowed it to it would turn the
steering wheel to center it when the wheel was actually trying to turn
the vehicle because of the stopped up valve. That's about all I can figure.

I know there are valves in the rack and pinion power steering unit that move
hydraulic fluid either in front or behind the rack and pinion to help you turn
the vehicle. The position of the steering wheel determines when each valve
passes fluid. the Fluid is fed form what I believe is a power steering pump.
I believe that a mechanic is supposed to determine if the pressure is sufficient
before he determines what is wrong. I assume my mechanic knew how to
diagnose the problem before he decided it needed a new rack and pinion unit.
guess I will know if the new rack and pinion does not fix it. Anyway I figured he
knew more about diagnosing it that I did. So, I did not question him about it.

(This post was edited by jackx on Jul 14, 2016, 7:52 PM)


Aug 4, 2016, 4:32 PM

Post #13 of 13 (721 views)
Re: rack and pinion problem Sign In

Finally got the rack and pinion installed. Since it is one of the few Borrego's that Kia made
it is almost impossible to get parts for without getting your order becoming back ordered at
autozone or Napa or Oreilly. I order a rebuilt one from Rockauto. They have a R&R deal with
A1Cardone. I boxed it up and sent the rack and pinion to Harlington Texas where A1Cardone is
and they rebuilt it back to factory Specs. That fixed it.

It did not even need an outer tie rod end. Cost my daughter $580 bucks which is a lot better than
paying Midas where she first took it the $1900 that they quoted her to fix it.

I have my fingers crossed. The mechanic said it was repaired well and has the same stamps
on it that the rack and pinions have that he gets from Autozone so he thinks it is a good reconditioned
unit. It does have a 3 year warranty with A1Cardone. Since Napa used A1Cardone i believe they
are a good company to get parts from.

Just wanted to get back and tell everyone the outcome.

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