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Old 11-22-2009, 12:21 AM   #1
sr5guy
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Exclamation A Safety Concern for Those Doing Engine Swaps & Steering Rack Jobs

This is something I have been meaning to post about for a long time now. I had a customer come in recently with a car that had a rack problem and it reminded me to post up about it.

The steering universal joint (yoke) from the column to the rack is crap. Period. Its a shitty design for such a safety oriented part. The splines in the rack pinion are fine toothed, and the section width not very deep at all. Also there is no "D" key to the stub shaft of the pinion, it is simply a round end. From a safety standpoint this is terrible, because if the splines fail the joint is not keyed in any other way and you will lose steering control. This also makes it extremely difficult to re-center the rack as the universal joint can slide onto the splines of the pinion in any way - no keying. Most of the time there is no way to get it perfectly straight and removal and re-installation of the steering wheel is required in order to correct the alignment.

I recently had to move a parts car that had it's motor removed and we never re-installed this bolt. As we were turning the steering wheel the splines broke free and the steering wheel spun free of the rack (total loss of steering control). This indicated the critical nature of this design and the importance of this bolt.

This brings up a real safety issue. If the bolt that clamps the universal to the rack stub shaft/pinion gear either fails or is installed improperly, there isn't much holding your steering wheel to the road. That is why is it CRITICAL that you pay attention to properly installing this bolt when you are changing out the steering rack or removing it for a subframe drop/motor swap. If the bolt grove on the pinion is not perfectly aligned with the bolt, the bolt will strip and may not properly clamp the universal onto the splines (see picture). This is what happened with a customers car that came in that had it's rack replaced by an idiot mechanic. It is CRITICAL that both of these bolts and lock washers be replaced with new and properly torqued ANY TIME THEY ARE REMOVED FOR SAFETY'S SAKE. If they are removed and found to be stripped, rotted out or anything other than perfect, replace the universal joint as well.




Part numbers:

BOLT (Qty 2): 90135-SB0-003 BOLT, STEERING YOKE (8X28) (NIPPON SEIKO)
WASHER (Qty 2): 90511-671-003 WASHER, TOOTHED LOCK
UNIVERSAL JOINT: 53323-SP0-003 JOINT B, STEERING

Torque:

17mm steering rack mounting bolts: 43ft/lbs
14mm stiffener bolts: 28ft/lbs
10mm steering bolts: 8ft/lbs

-Matt
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Old 11-22-2009, 12:22 AM   #2
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This is the method that I use for re-installation so that there is no pressure put on the universal joint that could cause it to bind:

Install both tie rods and the passenger's side bracket and tighter.
Center the steering wheel and center the front wheels the best you can (push up on the left side of the rack to prevent geometric distortions from the hanging rack)
Install the universal joint on the column shaft with a NEW factory bolt. Leave the bolt loose and the joint able to slide up and down the shaft.
While holding the rack up with your left hand, slide the universal joint onto the rack stub shaft. Fully bottom the joint out on the shaft and with a light inspect to see that the bolt key way is properly aligned with the bolt hole. Install a NEW factory bolt and star washer from the dealer in the bolt hole and tighten a few turns (don't tighten it all the way).
Line up the bolt holes on the bottom of the rack and install the stiffener (the aluminum plate with all of the 14mm bolts in it). Do not use an impact gun on the bolts as it will strip the soft aluminum subframe and do irreparable damage.
After the stiffener is installed go back and tighten the two new bolts you installed in the universal to the proper torque.

-Matt
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Old 11-22-2009, 01:03 AM   #3
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Great info, especially with more and more people replacing their racks.
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Old 11-22-2009, 05:50 AM   #4
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Great info! Thanks.
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Old 11-22-2009, 07:30 AM   #5
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The next question. Anything aftermarket, fabricated, or taken from perhaps another Honda that is of better design and could be swapped into the Legend? I have never heard of any complete steering failure on a Legend before but that's something I'd never want to go through. It gets me nervous just thinking about it.

Last edited by soloist; 11-22-2009 at 04:20 PM.
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Old 11-22-2009, 08:43 AM   #6
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Ya I ran into issues with this, my stock bolt stripped as I was removing it I replaced the bolt and tightened everything down I hope its tight because it sort of felt difficult to tighten which made me believe it could be striping. It tightened down good but if I ever had to remove it again I would definitely need to replace it again. I would like to maybe go back and replace just that whole joint for piece of mind but I wish it were possible with out screwing up my alignment and dropping the rack down a bit unless like you said you can loosen it from the steering side.

I was also very surprised that this tiny joint and two little bolts are all that connect your steering to the rack. Under normal conditions while driving I'm sure theres not to much stress on it but what concerns me is certain times when your steering/push the car or trying to move the car with the engine off if you need a jump or something this has to put major stress on that joint and in my head I just picture those teeth slipping.

Matt what do you think about ditching those bolts and sticking a slightly thinner bolt through the joint hole that you can put and actual nut on the other side. This way you can clamp it down and not worry about the bolts stripping as you install them. I actually did this temporarily as I was waiting for my new bolt to come.
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Old 11-22-2009, 08:48 AM   #7
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Good info! Needs a sticky
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Old 11-22-2009, 08:49 AM   #8
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Thanks for the heads up. I will take a look at mine. I didn't disassemble it, but an inspection would be good.
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Old 11-22-2009, 09:34 AM   #9
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this needs a sticky good notice!
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Old 11-23-2009, 09:10 PM   #10
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Bump, I just want to let you guys know that the dealer list price for this bolt is $0.49. Don't risk you safety over a $.50 cent part.

-Matt
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