Most modern cars have sealed for life joints in at least part of the steering system. These do not need maintenance, and are simply replaced when worn or damaged.


A double-wishbone suspension with steering swivels The inner tie rod in a rack system is contained in the gaiter of the sealed rack, and should be left alone unless you have to remove the gaiter for some other reason.


A MacPherson-strut suspension system with a steering box In this steering-box system, the extra joints on the track rod and idler arm also need attention.

But even new cars may have grease nipples and/or oil-filler holes in various parts of the system.

Their position depends on the steering system – rack and pinion or steering box – and the front suspension type – wishbone or MacPherson strut.

The car handbook will tell you where to lubricate and how often usually every 6,000 miles or 10,000 km – and the type and amount of lubricant to use.

Raise the front of the car with the wheels hanging free. Support it on axle stands set under frame members. Apply the handbrake firmly and chock the rear wheels. Put rear-wheel-drive cars in gear (`park’ for automatics).

Lubricating a rack and pinion


Support one end of the front-suspension cross member on an axle stand; place a container under the rack at the other end.












The rack is filled with oil or grease, but does not usually need regular maintenance. It needs re-lubrication if you remove or replace a rack gaiter, or if there has been a leak past a loose or damaged gaiter clip

If you do need to re-lubricate, consult the car handbook to see whether oil or grease is used, which kind, and how much.

Draining a rack


Unfasten the inner end of the lower gaiter and pull it clear of the rack drain.


If it is oil, drain the rack and use a syringe to refill it. Check how much the syringe holds, to ensure the right oil level.

Raise the car on an axle stand on one side only, so that the rack is tilted. Clean carefully around the gaiter and set a drip tray under the lower end of the rack.



Free one end of the gaiter by unscrewing the clip.

Release the clip at the inner end of the lower gaiter. Pull the gaiter free of the rack housing and let all the oil drain out.

Smear a little grease or gear oil inside the gaiter to make it easier to push on. Refit the gaiter and tighten the clip. Replace a wire clip with a screw clip. Unclip and free the inner end of the other, upper gaiter.






Refill from a syringe at the upper end of the rack. An old cycle pump can be used if you do not have a syringe.

Use a syringe to inject the correct amount of gear oil of the right grade. If you do not have a syringe, use an old cyclepump or an oil can. Refit the gaiter and clip.

If it is inconvenient to tilt the car, you can empty the rack on the level by undoing one gaiter at the inner end and slowly moving the steering wheel from lock to lock several times – not quickly, for that might burst the other gaiter.

Refasten the gaiter, then unclip its outer, small end. Note how far it reaches along the track rod: its exact placing is important.

Using an oil can



If you do not have a syringe, an oil can will do the job, but more slowly.

Push the syringe in between the gaiter and track rod to inject the oil. Refasten the clip.

Grease cannot be removed; but when replacing a gaiter you should wipe grease off the inner track-rod ball joint to inspect the joint.

Smear the joint and all visible parts of the rack mechanism generously with grease before putting back the gaiter.

Use the grade of grease that is recommended in the handbook for the car.

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