Greased steering rack, bad idea?

Discussion in 'Workshop Forum' started by carl, Nov 26, 2019.

  1. carl

    carl True Classic

    Location:
    Virginia
    When I replaced the steering rack bushing awhile back I used wheel bearing grease on the steering rack instead of the specified lube. That may have been a mistake as driving the car in the cold results in a very dampened steering with no self centering and sluggish steering. Anyone else done this and seen same results? The steering does lighten up after I drive for awhile or the ambient temp warms up.
     
    Austin74 likes this.
  2. gene cooley

    gene cooley Autocrosser

    Location:
    Henrico, Va
    We use an X rack on the 600. When I replaced the bushing I put a really light coat of grease on the part of the rack that I could reach. I did notice at the last autocross (45 degrees F) that the steering felt a little heavier than usual. We use a 2-1 steering increaser so it wasn't really much more effort than normal.
     
  3. Dr.Jeff

    Dr.Jeff True Classic

    Location:
    Sin City
    I can see where that would stand to reason. I wonder if a synthetic version of similar grease would do the same? Might be less susceptible to cold temp effects. Of course using oil instead of grease would prevent that, but it would also tend to leak more on these old worn racks - even with new seals. I plan to go through a couple of X steering racks eventually, and was also thinking of using some type of grease instead of oil. So it will be good to hear all the feedback about this subject.
     
  4. AKimball92

    AKimball92 True Classic

    Jeff how cold does Sin City usually get?

    As for me, I decided to take the damped steering over the possibility of leaks. I honestly havent driven mine enough to know know the difference. But when I bought the car, the rack was all covered in caked on oil and dirt and all down the bottom of the car. If mine stays clean I will take the stiffer steering over any day.
     
  5. Dr.Jeff

    Dr.Jeff True Classic

    Location:
    Sin City
    Surprisingly it gets quite cold, like in the upper 20's (F). Although the vast majority of the year is unbearably hot, there's about 6-8 weeks when it is the opposite. And the swing in temp tends to be dramatic - as much as 30 degree drop in a day. While a few times it has snowed a bit, typically it is way to dry despite being below freezing. Another oddity is several days during the transition between seasons when you need to run the heater at night and the AC during the day. While there are a couple weeks before and after winter when the temp is rather pleasant, that's also when the winds are severe (50-60 MPH) and it floods (if it rains it floods). Frankly not much in the way of "good" weather in my opinion, but I spent my entire life in SoCal so I'm spoiled.

    I'm with you, I'd rather avoid leaks. All of my X's undercarriages were also covered with oily gunk, from about the rack on back. There should be a lighter weight of grease that is also synthetic (or otherwise temp stable). I recall Bernice discussing this topic, but don't remember what she uses. Hopefully others will report some good suggestions.
     
  6. Dr.Jeff

    Dr.Jeff True Classic

    Location:
    Sin City
    It just occurred to me, white lithium grease like "Lubriplate" is much lighter than wheel bearing grease, has a very broad temp range, and might be ideal for this. Perhaps that's what was recommended by others previously?
     
  7. NEG

    NEG True Classic

    Location:
    UK
    Issue with grease is it doesn’t stay where you put it for long unless you can seal / pack the whole area. Yes oil may leak if the rubber gaiters are past their best but they can be replaced in situ and 100ml of SAE90 squirted in with them in place. Oil will find its way to where it needs to be and doesn’t require the rack to be stripped down to be applied.
     
    AKimball92 likes this.
  8. carl

    carl True Classic

    Location:
    Virginia
    Now, of course, I have to figure out how to ungrease the whole mess if I want to try something else.
    I'm happy to hear others have had the same experience, sometimes knowing what the problem is presents it's own piece of mind. I do drive my X all year round so will look for answers for a more normal feeling steering when cold. Worst case is just fitting new gaiters and the proper fluid. By my standards it's not that hard to get an X steering rack out of the car an on a workbench.
     
  9. Dr.Jeff

    Dr.Jeff True Classic

    Location:
    Sin City
    Keep in mind the boots (gators) are not the only place it will leak. There are other sealing points with leaks (partly depending on which rack you have, there is more than one design). So you might need to completely disassemble it and replace all of the seals and gaskets. However in my experience, old components tend to form leaks again fairly quickly even after new seals are installed...it's called wear. But it will certainly help, and sometimes that's all one can do.
     
  10. Ics19

    Ics19 belle macchine!

    Location:
    UK
  11. carl

    carl True Classic

    Location:
    Virginia
    I don't want to take my steering rack apart, it functions fine other than the cold stiffness...sort of like a Fiat gearbox with GL-1 in it. I'll check out the Redline grease.
     
  12. Dr.Jeff

    Dr.Jeff True Classic

    Location:
    Sin City
    I suppose if you just added something lighter like gear lube to the existing grease (e.g. pour some inside the boots), in time they would mix to form a lower viscosity than the current grease. Wouldn't have to tear it all apart to do that.
     
  13. carl

    carl True Classic

    Location:
    Virginia
    I thought about that.
     
  14. carl

    carl True Classic

    Location:
    Virginia
    OK, I have the steering rack out of the car and have two choices after I clean out the wheel bearing grease I had in it:
    1. replace with a very light grease such as Redline synthetic
    2. replace with the proper factory spec oil. The question is, what oil should I use? There might be a better oil to use than the oil that was proper 30 some years ago.
     
  15. carl

    carl True Classic

    Location:
    Virginia
    The manual says 90wt gear oil. I have some Valvoline 75-90 synthetic differential oil. Any reason I can't use that since I have it laying around. If it leaks out the boots while the rack is sitting on the workbench then I'll know not to go that route with the boots that I have.
     
  16. NEG

    NEG True Classic

    Location:
    UK
    I used an EP90 I had on the shelf, never leaked as long as the tie wraps where tight enough. Just be careful if you need to adjust the tracking as the gaiters can rotate with the track rod and tear. Don’t ask me how I know:D
     
  17. Dr.Jeff

    Dr.Jeff True Classic

    Location:
    Sin City
    Just reading these posts have convinced me to use a light weight grease instead of oil. :D
     
  18. LarryC

    LarryC Curator of #10105275

    Well, darn it, I just reviewed these posts and they convinced me to use 90 wt oil instead of grease! What did I miss?
     
  19. carl

    carl True Classic

    Location:
    Virginia
    Larry, you missed the normal confusion of this forum! By the way, I'm not sure what "light weight" grease is.
     
  20. carl

    carl True Classic

    Location:
    Virginia
    I put in the 75-90 gear lube, zip tied the boots saw no leak on the bench and installed the steering rack back in the car. Steering seemed much lighter but the garage is heated so that's not a true cold weather test. I'll report my findings when I get some driving done...and look for pools of gear lube on the floor.
     
    kmead likes this.

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