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95.5-2004 Tacomas & 96-2002 4Runners 4th gen pickups and 3rd gen 4Runners

Steering Rack Bushing Replacement

Old 05-26-2009, 11:16 PM
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Steering Rack Bushing Replacement

I just replaced the worn out steering rack rubber bushings with new urethane bushings as a first attempt to fix a steering condition that has gradually gotten worse. My 2002 4runner has 93K miles, it is stock and only sees highway and city driving. I suspected something was up with the steering system after noticing a tendency for it to wander left or right when driving (usually at higher speeds) on grooved sections of the road or when hit by strong cross winds. I finally got a chance to look under the truck. The steering rack would shift left and right about 1/4" when the steering wheel was turned. I ordered a bushing replacement kit ($62 at AutohausAZ). Removal and Installation was not bad at all and the replacement bushings fit snugly (a little soapy water helped them slide in to place). The 4runner steers much better now and the wandering effect is gone. Alignment seems to have also improved, since it tends to run straight for a longer distance than before. I was expecting more vibration at the steering wheel (since the replacement bushings are stiffer), but nothing like that to my surprise. It seems the new bushings have pretty much eliminated the steering problems on my 4runner.

Some tips I learned during/after this job:
Search around for a better price on the replacement bushings ($62 is very high). I usually get good prices from AutohausAZ, so I didn't think to shop around. This time they were pricey $$$.
You'll need a 7/8" socket and a 19 mm socket (preferably 1/2" drive) for those big bolts and nuts that hold the steering rack in place.
A long pipe to help break the nuts and bolts loose helped alot.
Use soapy water instead of grease as a lubricant to install the bushings, since it it less messy and it dries up clean. Dirty dish water is best.
If the metal powersteering lines are preventing movement of the steering rack, don't disconnect them at the fittings where they connect to the steering rack (the nuts are very tight and the job can get very messy with power steering fluid draining out of the lines). Instead, unbolt the several brackets that secure the lines to the frame. After disconnecting these brackets (3 of them on my truck), the steering rack could be moved back far enough to remove/install the bushings without the risk of damage to the power steering lines.
No need to disconnect the steering coupler or tie rod ends.
At least one wheel must be free to turn left or right in order to allow movement of the steering rack unit for easier removal/installation of the bushings.
No need to use a torch to burnout the old bushings (The bushings are already loose). It's also too dangerous.
A large flathead screw driver and a channel lock plier was good enough to pull out the drivers-side bushing.
I was able to push out the smallest (center) bushing using a puller that was just the right size.
A C-clamp was helpful in inserting the metal tubes into the new urethane bushings. Don't forget the soapy water.
I'm not sure about the recommended torque spec for those large nuts and bolts, but 70 ft/lbs seemed good enough to me.

I hope this helps. You can do it.
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Old 05-27-2009, 02:08 AM
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I just replaced mine this weekend. wow what a difference.
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Old 05-27-2009, 10:34 PM
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i had that same problem but the rack bushing replacment alone didnt help. found out ball joints were no good, top and bottom. got those replaced and it drives like a champ now.
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Old 05-28-2009, 05:09 AM
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62 for the bushings, daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaang

I paid like 21 for mine shipped and got it like 3days after i ordered it
http://www.wheelersoffroad.com/4runnerrackbushkit.htm
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Old 05-28-2009, 05:26 AM
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Do you need to have the front suspension re-aligned after you do this?
If so I am going to replace a lot of other front suspension bushings at the same time.
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Old 05-28-2009, 05:44 AM
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thanks for the writeup. Good hints along the way.

a job like this is beyond my limited abilities so I will have Irbis do for me next Friday. Seems like a good time to have them do the power steering flush at the same time.

Energy Suspension kit from Wab-Fab-is about $30 shipped.
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Old 05-28-2009, 08:26 AM
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Originally Posted by ericdg16 View Post
Do you need to have the front suspension re-aligned after you do this?
If so I am going to replace a lot of other front suspension bushings at the same time.
YES! get an alignment after you're all done. i thought i did a good job getting it aligned close after reinstallation, but it was WAY off according to the computer. if i could have done it again, i would have done the other side's inner/both outer tie rod ends if i was thinking.... but i didn't have time, and needed it to be inspected the next day. a $70 alignment isn't cheap 2 or 3 times over...
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Old 05-28-2009, 01:47 PM
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Trying to do my steering rack bushings on my 99 4R with a kit I got from Downey. (think I paid about $20)

For the life of me, I cannot get the bottom bolt and top nut on the passenger side of the rack to break free. Have broken both a 19mm and 3/4" socket using my 1/2 torque wrench trying to get them to turn. Have soaked them with wd-40, tapped a lot with a hammer and even tried heating them a bit with a propane torch but no luck. They won't budge.

Any tricks?? I'm about to give up and leave the stock rubber in there.
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Old 05-28-2009, 02:14 PM
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PB blaster over a couple days, plus 24" breaker bar, plus muscle

is that the D-ring side? those were the easiest to get off for me. that vertical, center bolt was awkward! i hit it with 3 straight days of PB and all the bolts were do-able. Good Luck!
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Old 07-09-2009, 04:03 PM
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dewski.. i had that problem to. you gota use an impact gun. tighten it 3-4 hits then reverse it. it helps. just did this and DAMN 3 hours. i was startin to get annoyed. having a diff drop really slowed everything down. the diff was blocking the main bolt on the driver side. i'm pretty happy wiht the end results.
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Old 07-09-2009, 04:59 PM
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I replaced mine about two months ago and I broke two sockets and a 1/2in ratchet and to top it all off the impact gun i borrowed was too weak to get that vertical one out. I gave up and took it to a shop and had them installed. But what a huge improvement!
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Old 07-09-2009, 07:40 PM
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Will these runner kits work on a Taco as well?
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Old 07-09-2009, 10:52 PM
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Originally Posted by noahrexion View Post
Will these runner kits work on a Taco as well?
yes... http://www.wheelersoffroad.com/tacorackbushkit.htm
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Old 07-10-2009, 06:27 AM
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wheelers was sold out for a few weeks. i orderd from wabfab but toytec shipped them.. for fastest results order from toytec. took me 2 weeks to get mine.
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Old 07-11-2009, 06:00 AM
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Originally Posted by rocket View Post

Thanks just ordered myself a set!
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Old 07-14-2009, 10:14 PM
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Originally Posted by John LTD View Post
I replaced mine about two months ago and I broke two sockets and a 1/2in ratchet and to top it all off the impact gun i borrowed was too weak to get that vertical one out. I gave up and took it to a shop and had them installed. But what a huge improvement!
John, the vertical (center) bolt comes down through the top of the rack and bolts into a nut welded to the bracket on the bottom. I'm assuming you were using the impact on that bottom welded nut since there's no way to fit an impact up top.
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Old 07-15-2009, 04:09 AM
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man i remember when i did this about 2 and a half 3 years ago i noticed immediately. i should take that rack apart and see how they're holding up
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