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Discussion Starter #1
This is the noise my cobalt is making when I turn the steering wheel completely from one side to the other while it's on Jack Stands with the wheels removed. Would this sound be created from the steering rack and pinion component?

I have had it parked and been using a different vehicle until it's repaired because it doesn't feel safe to drive with how much it wanders. There's a significant amount of play in the steering wheel when you turn it side to side.

 

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Well it’s hard to say really. It kind of sounds like a ball joint. But I can say my rack sounds like it knocks a little. I have looked at it and thought maybe it’s the intermediate shaft, or in the column. But it’s my rack, although it’s not loose at all, the steering is super tight. And I’ve driven some Cobalts with bad racks before.

I recommend detaching the outer tie rod end from the steering knuckle. Then you can turn the knuckle by hand. If there’s noise while independently turning the knuckle you may have a problem with a ball joint. It’s usually what I’ll do. Try and move each item, like the rack, separately to see if anything changes.

Your rack does have a clacking noise going on though, so it make be worn very bad. Also have a look at the intermediate shaft. If replacing the rack, it’s a fine time to replace it as well since they do wear out. You’ll need a wheel alignment at this time too. And you might as well replace the outer tie rod ends at the same time with some higher quality ones from Moog or AC Delco Professional. Don’t go for the house brand or cheap kind.
 

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Good example. I have a customer that ordered suspension and steering parts for his ‘08 Dodge Caravan, from Autoshack. In 3 years or so, the struts have already become very weak and give them impression they’re blown. The tie rod ends have already worn out, I just replaced them again a couple of months ago. Control arms we installed about six months ago are already having the bushings dry rot. Other things he ordered were an ignition coil and fuel injectors. The coil lasted about a year, then went bad. The fuel injectors never worked right and we chased a problem created by the faulty new injectors.

I mean I make the labor cost off of some of my customers that buy the cheap crap, but I feel bad because they can’t see that it’s a waste of money on their end. If they’d spend a little extra on each part, they probably would not have to return for many years for the same problem. I’ve learned that if you’ll initially spend a little extra to get a quality product or part, you’ll really save in the long run. It is ridiculous to constantly have the car in the shop because a new part won’t last more than a years
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Good example. I have a customer that ordered suspension and steering parts for his ‘08 Dodge Caravan, from Autoshack. In 3 years or so, the struts have already become very weak and give them impression they’re blown. The tie rod ends have already worn out, I just replaced them again a couple of months ago. Control arms we installed about six months ago are already having the bushings dry rot. Other things he ordered were an ignition coil and fuel injectors. The coil lasted about a year, then went bad. The fuel injectors never worked right and we chased a problem created by the faulty new injectors.

I mean I make the labor cost off of some of my customers that buy the cheap crap, but I feel bad because they can’t see that it’s a waste of money on their end. If they’d spend a little extra on each part, they probably would not have to return for many years for the same problem. I’ve learned that if you’ll initially spend a little extra to get a quality product or part, you’ll really save in the long run. It is ridiculous to constantly have the car in the shop because a new part won’t last more than a years
Thanks so much for the detailed real world example. Prior to doing a proper inspection under the boots and bellows and inspecting all the bushings and joints I was considering just "throwing parts" at my problem and basically replacing the whole front suspension with low cost parts. I was partly motivated by these videos by youtuber chrisfix:

How to Rebuild the Entire Front Suspension in your Car or Truck

How to Install a COMPLETELY New Front Suspension in your Car or Truck

Despite advice from several mechanics against ordering low cost / poor reputation parts I had already ordered a 6 piece bundle that included 2 sway bar links, 2 lower control arms with ball joints and 2 tie rod ends. It's less than a month since I ordered the parts and the same bundle I received has already dropped by $52.59 CAD on the website. I paid $194.39 CAD and now it's listed for $141.80 CAD. Seems too good to be true considering I've seen listings for just a single control arm for $200 CAD. Maybe that would be a good option if I was giving the car away or selling it but I want to keep this car a while longer because I just fixed up the body cosmetics. The aftermarket parts I received are the proper length and will likely fit but are shaped differently which makes me wonder what's manufactured differently inside of them and how long they'll hold up as you've mentioned. I've put an RMA request and hopefully will be able to get a refund as I didn't install them and it turns out those parts don't even need to be replaced. It turns out I need inner tie rods and/or entire rack and pinion assembly.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Also have a look at the intermediate shaft.
The u-joint on the intermediate shaft had been completely rusted apart with tons of play but I just replaced that 9 months ago last fall with a brand new one from dorman that I talked about in this thread: Preventing recurring Intermediate Steering Shaft U joint...

After less than a year this is how rusted it is:
19671


I'm going to try to make that repair last extra long by removing the intermediate steering shaft again, wire brushing/cleaning off the rust that's formed since it was installed, then prepping it with a paint product similar to the one you recommended. Instead of using the POR15 product you mentioned I'm going to use this one that does the same thing and I already have on hand

19672


Then after the rust converter product is applied I will also do the DIY inner tube boot trick shown below pumped with grease when I take the steering rack off because as you can see in the pic above it's already rusting like crazy after just 1 winter but the joint is still solid (for now).
19668


Oh and as a side note these steering shafts are supposed to be collapsible. The one that had been installed when first purchased the car was not collapsible so it must've been installed by the shop who sold me the car. I had to use a sawzall and cut the shaft in half in order to get it out. I now know I could've removed the steering rack to remove the shaft but I've learned a lot since last year and at the time that was beyond my knowledge/experience level. It was frustrating because I never saw any info anywhere online or in my Haynes repair manual about the shaft not being collapsible so it took a while for me a lot longer than it should have to get the original shaft out.
 

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You might look at a paint called Por-15. It’s kind of pricey, but works pretty well at keeping rust from happening. Have used it on a boat trailer and several beach trucks frames.

I have only bought the paint locally, but I have looked to find it available on Amazon.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I replaced the rack and inner/outer tie rods on the weekend and now the play in the steering is fixed. Also the crunching/grinding sounds are gone when turning and driving. It still makes those gears sounds when turning so I suspect that's normal because you can't really hear it when you're driving and it's probably amplified a ton having the cell phone under the wheel well sitting directly on the steering rack. So far all seems good.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Good example. I have a customer that ordered suspension and steering parts for his ‘08 Dodge Caravan, from Autoshack. In 3 years or so, the struts have already become very weak and give them impression they’re blown. The tie rod ends have already worn out, I just replaced them again a couple of months ago. Control arms we installed about six months ago are already having the bushings dry rot. Other things he ordered were an ignition coil and fuel injectors. The coil lasted about a year, then went bad. The fuel injectors never worked right and we chased a problem created by the faulty new injectors.

I mean I make the labor cost off of some of my customers that buy the cheap crap, but I feel bad because they can’t see that it’s a waste of money on their end. If they’d spend a little extra on each part, they probably would not have to return for many years for the same problem. I’ve learned that if you’ll initially spend a little extra to get a quality product or part, you’ll really save in the long run. It is ridiculous to constantly have the car in the shop because a new part won’t last more than a years
Well I didn't install their parts that came in severly damaged packaging and instead I picked up an inexpensive OEM steering rack from an auto recycler off a damaged cobalt that had 80,000km on it. However autoshack.ca was in breach of contract of their return policy and said they wouldn't issue a return because the part in the last picture I sent them was "used or installed" which is a blatant lie. I sent a side by side comparison of their part displayed next to the OEM tie rod that was installed just like the phone rep requested.

One thing I did notice though is their tie rod ends are greasable and they also include a castle nut and cotter pin. I'm wondering why the OEM tie rod ends do not have a castle nut and cotter pin when most tie rod ends do?
 

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If by oem, do you mean the ones that can be purchased at the dealership? They almost always sell every nut and bolt separate from the parts. Not exactly sure why.

It’s something I forget sometimes when ordering from a dealership, then have to go back and order nuts or bolts, or even reuse them. Sometimes you have to buy the fasteners 5-10 in a package to get them. I remember having to do that with my Honda when replacing the oil filter housing. Needed like 4 bolts but had to buy 10. The nice thing was they were exact replacements.
 
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