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I just bought and am sorting out the car.  Shop tells me that repairing the power steering (previous owner removed the pump belt because the pump made noise) requires the replacement of the steering rack/gear.  The steering is sound and safe without the power assist, says shop.  Since the rack/gear costs in excess of $2K, I would like to avoid that. Comments welcome.

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That doesn't sound right, what is the problem with the rack? Used parts much cheaper, rebuild the rack

Thanks for your comment.  As far as I know, there is no problem with the rack.  The answer to my explicit question is that it is safe to drive.  But I have received no reply as to why it is necessary to replace or repair the rack

I wouldn't be afraid to hook the pump back up and try it out, the noise the previous owner complained of was most likley from the pump, but, still, it's a simple system
Pretty common to have a leaky resivour, which is why they are under 20 on eBay. A leak there could cause noise in the pump

Thanks.  A fluid leak is a good possibility.

Also, if the pump is bad, rebuilding it isn't terribly difficult, and the parts aren't expensive.  And if the rack is bad, I'm told rebuilt ones are available at Autozone for around $200, and come with a warrantee (one year?).  It is possible to rebuild a rack, but it is a major pain in the kiester.  Ask me how I know...

I saw a couple of racks on EBay his evening. Rebuilding the rack may well be a pain, but I would imagine that it's just a matter of seals and such. I think there is a pump rebuild kit on EBay as well

Yes, rebuilding the rack mainly consists of replacing a bunch of seals, but the rack is a very large, awkward piece, so for starters, you need a very large, deep vise to hold it properly to remove and attach the half shafts.  The other major issue is that the seals tend to be VERY tight, and it takes just the right kind of tool to remove some of them.  Finally, the rack contains lots of very small parts, which for me tended to come flying out of the rack (some never to be found) as I yanked the super-tight seals out of the dern thing!  If you choose to go the rebuild route, I hope you have better luck than I did - I had less trouble timing the cams than I did rebuilding the steering rack!

Thanks.  All of you have given me a basis to get to the bottom of this to prevent getting gouged.  I hope to avoid having anything to do with the rack.  I need them to tell me why the rack needs replacing/repair, since according to them the steering is effective and safe as is--just no power assist.

There is a good write up here for rebuilding the rack:

http://www.rennbay.com/psrsealkitfull.html

http://arnnworx.com/SteeringRack.htm

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