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Discussion Starter #1
I went in to get an alignment and front tires the other day from NTB. They told me they could not do the alignment because the inner tie rods were bad and there was too much play in the wheel. Of course quoted me to have the work done. Issue is, I just had those replaced a few months ago at a different mechanic.

Took my car back to that mechanic, he reinspected his work and said the tie rods were just fine, but said there was some play in the wheel and thought it may be the steering rack, said it was electrical and a Chevy dealership would be my best bet. Of course they want $760 to fix it, but I know dealerships from bad experiences, they'll fix it, say it was really bad had to be fixed, but "Oh, we found this needs to be fixed to, to totally solve the problem." And Im not going that route considering one mechanic thought it was tie rod and another steering rack.

Heres the symptoms. Obviously the car will head left pretty fast after I let go of the wheel hence my need for alignment. But now, just since I got the car back from NTB :notrust: when I turn the wheel it will almost stop, then I have to power through the turn and it creaks very loudly. It does this both ways, left and right. The creaking is on the left side, I assume because thats where the steering is.

Does this symptom sound familiar to anyone? Would be very greatful for any help.
 

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First of all welcome, and play in the wheels cannot be caused by steering rack, because it's a solid piece of steel. Play is usually caused by inner tie rods or outer tie rods or even ball joints. As for your other problem (steering needing help coming back) you might have a bad U-joint in your intermediate shaft.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I just had my inner tie rods replaced, which is disappointing because had I known the rack and pinion were on the way out I wouldve waited had it done together and saved almost $200.

Question to anyone who may know, how much work is entailed in doing a rack and pinion on an 06 Chevy Cobalt? I had a mechanic who I feel is very skilled say he couldnt do it because its electric and would need to take it to Chevy. Im not even sure what that means. I assume he means the steering will need to be set back to position, but the actual rack and pinion replacement should be something any mechanic could do, correct?
I ask because I have another mechanic, who is not a chevy dealer, just your standard mechanic who has his own shop who said he can do it, no problems, but Ill have to go get it aligned somewhere when Im done. Appreciate any feedback on that before I dive in and get this replaced.
 

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You just have to secure the steering wheel in the center. (Don't spin steering wheel when shaft is disconnected or you will destroy the clock spring in the column.) Remove lower intermediate shaft bolt. Both outer tie-rods. Then only 4 bolts hold the rack to the sub frame. Not a piece of cake but very doable by any skilled mechanic.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Great, thank you very much for the info.
 

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Tell your mechanic to lay down the rack on work bench and measure end to end and to apply these measurements to the new rack. It won't be perfect but it will get you to the alignment shop without ripping your tires.
 

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Thanks again for the info. Anyone know how I determine what suspension I have? When buying the rack and pinion set it asks for Soft Ride Suspension(FE1) or Sport Suspension(FE5).

My car is stock, so I assume Soft Ride?
 

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yup
 

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Discussion Starter #9
So had some weird things happen this weekend with the steering. But let me back up a bit before I go on with it.

About a month ago, not too long before all this started happening, I had my power steering replaced under recall at a chevy dealership. Kept going out then would work, repeat,ect. So thats a new replacement. Not sure if it has anything to do with my new issues. Doubt it, but still...

So friday I get in my car and start to leave and notice the wheel is not creaking or hard to turn/locking up like it normally does. The alignment is still terrible and if I let go of the wheel its going hard right, right into a wall. And the wheel sits off center, with the top of the wheel pointing at about 10 o'clock. But the hard locking/creaking noise has pretty much vanished.

Is there any way for a bad rack and pinion to be so bad that steering is almost impossible to being completely fine to drive(Aside from alignment issues) Or does this sound like something else?
 
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