Need info on rack & pinion

Discussion in 'General Motoring' started by Wayne Maruna, Feb 25, 2010.

  1. Wayne Maruna

    Wayne Maruna Guest

    2004 Hyundai XG350, 65K miles. I already laid out the big bucks for the 60K
    mile service which I was told included some sort of hugely expensive timing
    belt or timing chain replacement. That was several months ago. Took the
    car to the dealer for the state mandated annual safety inspection required
    to get new license plate stickers. The service dept would not pass the
    vehicle, saying that "The vehicle needs a new sterring rack & pinion as it
    is making a banging noise and the boots are leaking. Estimate is $744 plus
    tax." They said the car was a danger to drive. We told them we had been
    thinking of getting another car anyway, and they lent us a 2011 Sonata for
    the night as a test drive. We ended up bringing it back and telling them we
    would have to think on it. The more we thought, the more we were inclined
    to keep the XG rather than rush into something.

    Needing to get the sticker, we drove across the street to the Bridgestone
    independent dealer, did not give them any hints, and the car passed without
    issue. Hmmm.

    We've been dealing with the dealer since 2004, and our other vehicle is a
    2008 Veracruz. They've always been extremely courteous and accomodating,
    and we've been very pleased. I was all set to schedule the car to have the
    work done, but we decided to get a second opinion. We contacted an
    independent garage which was recommended to us by several people. They are
    known for doing a lot of work on foreign brands and we got several strong
    recommendations. I called the guy to set up an appointment, explained what
    I was told, and he sounded incredulous that the steering could have gone bad
    at only 65K miles. We took it there yesterday, they put it on the rack, and
    said there was nothing wrong with the rack and pinion steering, but that the
    upper control arm was extremely loose and the car should not have passed the
    inspection on that account. All it took was a little torque application to
    tighten down the control arm, and we were safely (?) on our way, no charge.

    So I called the service manager at the Hyundai dealership today and
    explained to him what happened. I told him I did not know what to think,
    but I was inclined not to do business there again and have a discussion with
    the general manager to explain why. But I wanted to see what he thought
    first, since I did have a good history with them. The service manager said
    the technician who worked on his car was a trusted, long-time employee, and
    if he said it was bad, it was bad. But since I felt as I did, he suggested
    I bring the car in next week for us to look at together.

    Now I'm a skilled computer guy, but with cars, not so much. What I would
    like to know is, when I'm standing there under the car with this guy, what
    should I look for? And how would I know if what he is telling me is true?
    I recall seeing some old reports on 20/20 where a mechanic could giggle this
    and flex that and convince you that you had a major problem with something.
    Any hints on how I would know if the steering is really worn out to the
    point of being dangerous to drive?

    FWIW, we had been complaining since well before the end of the 60K mile
    bumper-to-bumper warranty that the car would periodically make terrible
    creaking sounds, but for whatever reason those finally dissapated. More
    recently my wife, who is the promary driver of the car, has been complaining
    of banging noises which I maybe heard once, but those too had become less
    frequent. Heck, they might have been the control arm.

    Anyway, thanks for reading this far, and if you have some hints for me, I
    would appreciate it.
    Wayne Maruna, Feb 25, 2010
  2. Wayne Maruna

    Ed Pawlowski Guest

    First, let me state I'm a bit cynical and I tend not to trust very many
    dealers or independent shops. Over the years I've seen too many people
    taken advantage of because of unscrupulous or incompetent mechanics. Too
    many stories to go into here.

    It is possible, but unlikely that the rack and pinion have to be replaced at
    65,000 miles. It is also possible that the technician in question gets a
    bonus for work done. Keep in mind also that the Bridgestone guy does brakes
    and shocks all day long but is not interested in doing a more involved job
    and was happy to make a few bucks for the sticker.

    Have them show you what is the problem, but alos have them show you the
    specification that says how much play is allowed or whatever they cite as
    the reason it is defective. Opinions are just that, specifications from the
    servie manual is what matters to me.

    OK, one quick story. Guy says he it taking his car to a shop for a new
    alternator and voltage regulator as both were diagnosed bad. Another guys
    says "BS, they don't both go bad at the same time" and goes to check the
    car. He tightens the belt and car now charges properly. Much money saved.
    Ed Pawlowski, Feb 25, 2010
  3. Wayne Maruna

    jp103 Guest

    If the boots are leaking you should be able to see some evidence of that
    (such as what might look like an oil stain or something) either below or
    on the bottom of the boot(s). As far as the steering rack & pinion -
    have you noticed the"banging noise" while turning or going straight,
    also do you hear anything when you turn the wheel or does it feel like
    it is binding or jerking?

    Finally, look for someone who specializes in front end work and get
    their opinion as well.
    jp103, Feb 25, 2010
  4. Wayne Maruna

    Voyager Guest

    I agree that it is unlikely that both go bad at the same time, but that
    doesn't mean that both won't have to be replaced at the same time. Many
    new alternators have an integral voltage regulator and normal procedure
    is to replace the entire unit when either goes bad. I suspect the labor
    cost to open up the alternator to replace the internal regulator would
    be greater than the cost of a replacement alternator.

    However, a loose belt is not a good reason to replace an alternator! :)

    Voyager, Feb 25, 2010
  5. Wayne Maruna

    Ed Pawlowski Guest

    This was an older (1970's) car with separate pieces. Could have been either
    lack of integrity or lack of knowledge.

    Had a similar situation when I took my Mercedes to the dealer because the
    electric cooling fan did not work. They replaced both the fan and the
    thermostat. Of course, I questioned it and asked to see the parts to test
    them. "Sorry sir, they seem to have been discarded but we'll adjust the
    bill. "

    Same dealer different problem. Cruise control would just stop working.
    They replaced a $400 circuit board that looked like a turn signal flasher.
    I did not think that was the problem but he insisted. Paid and left and the
    problem re-occurred minutes later so I turned around and went back. I took
    the bill and flipped it over and drew the electrical schematic of the cruise
    control system on the back of the paper. I showed him why he was wrong and
    what the problem likely was. They fixed a $25 switch and I was on my way
    with a credit.

    Another lesson is never buy a Mercedes unless you are filthy rich or the
    company you work for takes care of maintenance. When I changed jobs, first
    thing I did was dump that 300D.

    There are some fantastic mechanics out there, but there are many no so good.
    If you do find a good one, stick with him and smile when you pay the fairly
    priced bill.
    Ed Pawlowski, Feb 26, 2010
  6. Wayne Maruna

    Wayne Maruna Guest

    OK, follow-up. I took the car back to the dealer and they put it on the
    rack. Technician showed us where he thought the concerns lay. This time,
    he said that there was only a hair bit of movement. Though he said any
    movement was not good, this seemed to become a minor issue. The main
    concern in their mind was the presence (which they said was there but I
    could not see clear evidence, compounded by the fact that it was a drizzly
    day) of fluid which they said was leaking from the boots, though 'the boots
    were just dust covers'. The said the seals were leaking, and the danger was
    that under pressure the seals could just blow and we would lose steering.
    They said the seals could not be replaced, that the whole rack was once
    sealed (or in this case, not so sealed) unit. It was an all or nothing

    True or not true? To me and my limited knowledge I've been able to glean
    from the web about R&P steering, it seemed like if it was serious, we would
    be losing power steering fluid on a regular basis, and there might be signs
    in the steering experience. They seemed to indicate my wife could lose the
    ability to steer altogether, and it could happen suddenly rather than
    present warning signs once could feel over time.

    To me, this sounds like either excess caution or an attempt to drum up a
    $744 service bill.
    Wayne Maruna, Mar 5, 2010
  7. Wayne Maruna

    Ed Pawlowski Guest

    Congratulations. You have won a weekend trip for two including two night as
    a nice hotel and three meals a day. The value of the trip is $744. We hope
    you enjoy the weekend away. .
    Ed Pawlowski, Mar 5, 2010
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