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How To Replace a 1979-2004 Rack-and-Pinion
Improve steering response and rid your Mustang of leaks with a performance steering rack
A daily driver is just that—a vehicle that is driven daily for work, school, or other important transportation. I'm sure many of our readers use Fox, SN95, or New Edge Mustangs as a daily driver. They're cheap, fun to drive, and economical to service (especially the Fox Mustangs). Unfortunately, due to the daily use needs of such a driver, the vehicle sometimes ends up becoming a little “long in the tooth" when it comes to service and repairs. We often just don't take care of our daily drivers as well as we do our weekend toys/show cars. We've all had to tackle a weekend repair to keep our daily driver going and that often means a trip to the corner auto parts store and the purchase of a remanufactured part like a water pump, alternator, brake master cylinder, or a steering rack. However many assurance steps are used in the rebuilding process of said part, it is still very much “hit and miss" whether you get a part that lasts (or even works right out of the box!).
Case in point is the rack-and-pinion steering unit on our 23-year-old daily driven Fox. The original rack went 20 years and nearly 200,000 miles. It never leaked a drop of power steering fluid but finally succumbed to severe wear on the inner tie-rod end ball-sockets (wiping out our front tires in the process). Investigating the purchase of new inner tie-rod ends, we found that a remanufactured rack assembly, which includes inner tie-rod ends, was only a few bucks more. Sounds like a sound purchase decision right? For a few bucks more you get a complete rack that takes less time/labor to swap out and you get one of those cool lifetime warranties with it too, right? Sign us up.
Fast forward a scant three years later and our “new" steering rack is eating front tires and drinking power steering fluid like a college student at a kegger. That's an expensive diet for our Fox to be on we might add! A peek under the car netted us an instant diagnosis; the right rack seal had failed, filling the dust boot with fluid. A return trip to the auto parts store netted more bad news; they no longer carried that brand of rack (so much for the lifetime warranty) and the only recourse possible would be to get a refund for the rack we had and buy another one with a new lifetime warranty. Of course, the bad news continued when the counter person explained that there were no replacement racks in stock at the store, warehouse, or even the remanufacturer! At this point we made the conscious decision to swear off remanufactured parts and head to the performance aftermarket to get our Fox back on the road.
Brothers Performance offers high-performance steering parts, including steering racks from AGR Performance. AGR offers Mustang rack-and-pinion units that are custom built and available with different pinion valve ratings, steering ratios, and inner tie-rod end sizes. These various offerings allow a user to customize their steering rack to the exact feel that they desire for street or track use. Brothers Performance also offers AGR's high-flow replacement power steering pump for a matched steering set, as well as other popular steering hardware like rack bushings, tie rod ends, bump steer kits, and more to ensure your Fox, SN95, or New Edge steers and handles just the way you want it. We ordered the AGR .230-inch “firm" pinion valve for increased road feel over the stock pinion valve. AGR offers a .245- and .265-inch valve for heavy track use (check with Brothers Performance to see if they can special order for you).