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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey Everyone,
First post here. I recently bought a 2003 Toyota Corolla Le with ~90K on it. The car has been great, and other than some light hail damage ( have to be looking for it), it looks great too. I recently took it in to the dealership to get the oil changed prior to a trip the the Grand Canyon, and they told me that I needed the rack and pinion replaced. I'm hoping to find out how feasible it is to do this myself. I have done a fair amount of repairs on cars in the past, but this would be something totally new to me. Any advice from the Toyota experts out there would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Jeremy
 

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That's very low miles for a 10 year old car, which is great, and is also what makes it hard to believe there is anything wrong with the rack and pinion. If there were something seriously wrong with something so important you would not be singing the praises your are to this car. Did they explain or show you why and what they found that led them to the determination that your rack and/or pinion are no good?

I don't know how simple a job it is, and I can only say on a hunch that it isn't one, but if the car isn't giving you and sort of handling issues or feeling unsafe at speed, and they didn't say anything other than "she's broke", then I'm calling BS. :bullshit2
 

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Rack & pinion replacement is really a job for a pretty seasoned mechanic with access to an alignment rack. Most are a PITA to get out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the quick response. That was my assumption. Since the damage to the Rack and Pinion seems to be just causing a minor leak for Power Steering fluid, is it acceptable to just stay on top of the fluid levels? I know on vehicles I had in the past it was just a basic hydraulic fluid. Also the dealership quoted me at around $1,000 for the fix, and I was curious if in your experience that was pretty standard. Thanks again.
 

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Yeah. A fluid leak is normally what brings on a R&P replacement. As long as you keep it topped off, it should work just fine. Depending on how bad it leaks, you could probably buy some time that way.

I'd go somewhere other than a dealer for the fix. A decent repair shop should be able to install a rebuilt unit for way less than that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
That's very low miles for a 10 year old car, which is great, and is also what makes it hard to believe there is anything wrong with the rack and pinion. If there were something seriously wrong with something so important you would not be singing the praises your are to this car. Did they explain or show you why and what they found that led them to the determination that your rack and/or pinion are no good?

I don't know how simple a job it is, and I can only say on a hunch that it isn't one, but if the car isn't giving you and sort of handling issues or feeling unsafe at speed, and they didn't say anything other than "she's broke", then I'm calling BS. :bullshit2
It runs fine, and did fantastic on the trip. I really got lucky with the miles as the kid I bought it from was only the second owner and he lived on the ASU campus and really only put about 1,000 miles a year on the car for the three years he owned it. They didn't show me the leak at the assembly, just detailed it in the report they gave me afterwards. I'm going to just maintain the fluids and see how things go, but I wanted to find out the feasibility of doing the replacement myself if need be.
 

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Yeah, that's not really a shadetree mechanic job, honestly. But it's also something that's extremely unlikely to have issues unless the car has been abused or neglected. I would say bring it to an independent mechanic that you trust and have them take a look, as well as show you where, if at all, there is a problem. Be sure to take pictures and show us. I'll have my BS flag ready. :bullshit2
 

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Rack leaks on Toyotas are almost superficial "Sweating" at the seals. 1st Gen Sienna and 3rd Gen Avalon are much more prone to this yet the fluid level never moves and the leaks never really get worse even with over 100K.

Without a picture however of the boots and seal areas it is a tough call as to whether the leak is minor or serious. If it is serious then the leak will get worse and you can possibly damage other things like the pump from going low on fluid.

Even if it is unlikely it is really easy to jack it up and secure it on jack stands, then take a few pics of the bellow and seal area.

And yes while rack replacement can be done at home it is extremely difficult especially on a Corolla as the subframe needs to be lowered/dropped for removal so it probably isn't for the novice. I have the entire PDF for the repair procedure if you wanted it just in case.
 
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