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Toyota Maintenance: Steering Rack - Bushing Replacement
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By: Mark Griese - 11/2005

The steering rack bushings on 1995.5 - 2004 Tacomas are made of rubber and tend to wear out rather quickly, leading to vague or loose steering response. These bushings can be difficult to remove, so you are not going to want to remove them for inspection. Even if you did, the wear isn't obvious, as you can see from the photo of used bushings below. A better way to determine if your truck or 3rd generation 4Runner is a candidate for bushing replacement is to have someone move the steering wheel back and forth while you watch for excessive rack movement.

Energy Suspensions Kit Part Number 8-10101G



Troubleshooting

These pictures show the amount of rack movement I found on my Tacoma. While this much is not very extreme, I have seen much worse on other trucks.

Rack shifts left and right and the play shows in each of the bushings

The Fix

Energy Suspension makes a polyurethane bushing kit just for these vehicles. Their kit number 8-10101G (G for black; R for Red) has two metal bushings (sleeves) supplied for the center mount position. You will want to use the one that fits over your bolt. In my case it was the one with a 11/16" inside diameter. Also note: (1) if you have installed a differential drop kit (from any manufacturer), that will need to be temporarily removed to allow the long bolt for the driver's side bushing to clear the front differential (on four wheel drive vehicles); and (2) the manufacturer's instructions call for you to remove the driver side tie rod end from the steering knuckle - this may be omitted - I installed this kit by myself and didn't need to 'pop' the tie rod end.

Removal

You will need to support the vehicle on jack stands with the wheels off the ground and lock the steering column. Remove the skid plate and disconnect the anti-sway bar as needed to provide some room to work. In the pictures the bar has been totally removed for better picture taking. Aside from normal hand tools make sure you also have large adjustable pliers, 22 and 19mm sockets, and a torque wrench for when you put everything back together. Start by spraying all the hardware with a liquid penetrant, then loosen it. Don't remove anything until you support the passenger side of the rack because (once it was free) it will want to flop all over the place. Once the nut and all the bolts were out, I grabbed the rack with one hand and used my foot on the tire to wiggle the rack until it was free of the mounts. Next, I soaked the driver side and center mount rubber bushings with window cleaner to get them as slippery as possible. You may need to stick the mounting bolt in each bushing and work it side to side while spraying the soapy liquid to get enough inside to make it as slippery as possible. The front side of the driver's side bushing has a molded in steel washer, so grab it using the large pliers and work it towards the crossmember while pushing from the back with a socket or something that won't gouge the bore in the rack. Repeat to remove the center bushing also.

Mounting hardware Support the passenger side

Installation

Once they are out, check the bores to see that they are reasonably clean and ready to install the urethane bushings. The next challenge will be to get the metal sleeves into the bushings while they are in the rack. The pliers will help here also. Install both sleeved bushings in the rack, and the passenger side bushing around that end. Now work the rack back into the crossmember and reassemble the hardware. Before you reinstall the long bolt, make sure the large washer provided in the kit is used between the new driver's side bushing and the mount/crossmember (see photo). As the driver and passenger side hardware is snugged up, you should be able to get the bolt for the center bushing started. Once you are sure the center bolt is going in straight, go ahead and tighten all four completely. The torque for the driver side 22mm nut is 141ft-lbf, and the other 19mm bolts and nut are 123ft-lbf. Finish by reinstalling the anti-sway bar and skid plate before setting the vehicle back on the ground.

Don't forget the new washer

Summary

Have someone move the steering wheel again and you will be amazed when you see how solid the rack is now. On your first test drive you may notice that more vibrations are transmitted through the steering wheel now, but for me it was worth it to have such solid steering response.

Completed Installation Used rubber bushings


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