Bad XC70 Steering Rack Symptoms
Ripped inner tierod end boots on both sides and fluid seeping out. Loose steering response. UVJoint felt like it was binding slightly and I hear a clunking noise when car is parked sitting in Park or drive and steering wheel is turned quickly back and forth 1/8 of a turn (video to document this). Also everything else on the front end has been replaced except front springs, that now I believe are questionable and I have identified as being from a lower quality “complete strut” replacement. They sit too low for an XC70 and car bottoms out over speed bumps.
This writeup and photos by Ben in Massachusetts — many thanks to him.
You can save almost $2k (!) by doing this XC70 steering rack replacement yourself. Just follow this DIY.
See a parts discussion on this steering rack replacement for an S60, which shares many parts/design, to get an idea of what you’ll spend and where to shop. Check part numbers! They may not be the same.
What if it’s not the steering rack? What if it’s the suspension causing the noise?
Prepared by buying a good used rack and new inner, and outer tie rod ends with boot kits. Also got a new rear motor mount to go on the replacement rack. Getting 2×8 wood planks to help jacking car. Brake parts cleaner, card board, rags…
Replace old damaged leaking rack with good used rack, new inner and outer tie rod ends and boot kit.
Steering Rack Procedure
Rear of car placed on ramps. Front Jacked as high as safely possible and supported on jack stands, leaving access to rear subframe mounting brackets.
Removed both front wheels, and placed them under the car for added safety
Removed rear upper motor mount bolt leaving the motor mount connected to the rack, but ended up removing the rack with the motor mount still connected to engine and just disconnected from rack.
Removed 2 plastic covers, covering front subframe bolts
Supported subframe with jack
Removed rear subframe brackets with big bolts in front
Loosened front subframe bolts ¾ of the way
Removed Steering UV Joint from bottom of inside of car
Removed center exhaust (catalytic) bracket
Removed 2 small bolts that attach to exhaust hanger
Disconnected both outer tierod ends from steering knuckles
Disconnected the steering UV Joint from the steering column inside the car. This allows the subframe to drop down more, so that it doesn’t hang up on the steering column going through the boot and the firewall. The position of the bearing in the boot should be noted before disconnecting.
Lowered jack so subframe drops down in the rear. This should allow around 6” of space between subrame and its mounting points
Used a 16 and 19 mm to remove feed and return power steering lines to rack. Used a long extension and 15 or 14 mm deepdish socket to remove the top bolt on the bottom rear motor mount. Accessed between firewall and strut brace. This allowed rack to be removed with motor mount attached, but the motor needed to be jacked to gain a bit of clearance
Removed 4 steering rack mounting nuts and 1 mounting bolt from bottom of car.
Removed 1 steering line mounting bolt and various clips holding lines in place.
Removed steering UV Joint from rack shaft. In this case the rack shaft couldn’t be separated from the UV Joint and there wasn’t sufficient clearance to get the rack out with the UV Joint disconnected from inside the car, so the shaft was cut with a Sawzall. Replacement rack came with a good UV Joint.
Rack was removed toward the driver’s side. Rear motor mount was left attached to motor, but disconnected from rack. I had to jack motor slightly to provide a bit of clearance between rack and bottom of rear motor mount. Attention to the wire for oxygen sensor and other lines should be given.
XC70 Steering Rack Inspection
- Old XC70 steering rack was leaking through both inner seals
- Old UV Joint felt notchy and not smooth
- Old outer right and both inner joints had no play, but were really loose
- Replacement rack had similarly worn inner and outer tie rod ends
Prepping Replacement Rack/Cleaning
Replaced both inner tie rod ends, and boots, and swapped over a recently replaced left outer tie rod end. Installed a new outer right tie rod end.
Sanded shaft thoroughly with 60 grit sand paper and pried open UV joint clamp with a chisel so it would slide on easier. Used grease to make it slide on easier too.
Counted the turns when removing each of the old outer tie rod ends and installed the new ones the same number of turns.
Covered power steering feed and return lines with a small plastic bag and ziptied it on.
Degreased entire area as well as removed parts, and cleaned with water, degreaser and brake cleaner.
Installation of Replacement Rack
Installed new motor mount in bracket using same method as for removal with long extension.
Removed left sway bar mount to allow sway bar on left side to be pushed to back to gain access for lower motor mount bolt.
Slid in replacement rack from the drivers side. Started mounting bolts, but left very loose to allow movement when connecting lines. Connected steering UV joint (took some time and many bad words). Tightened mounting bolts and installed like the reverse of installation. Got car aligned.
Follow Up (8 Months / 3 K miles later)
Steering is still sloppy and clunking noise is still present but no more fluid leaking from rack. Upon inspection of universal joint, I found that there is play in the connection between the universal joint and the steering rack. I believe this is the cause of the clunking and the sloppy feeling still in the steering.
I do find it strange that this noise persisted after the swapping of the rack, which would indicate to me that there was a similar issue with the previous rack. I will remedy this loose connection and hopefully the issue will be solved. It seems unlikely that this looseness would happen alone and not as a result of someone installing a rack or disconnecting UV joint from rack. I’ll find out soon.