Steering Rack

Steering Rack The steering rack on the Esprit is definitely a weak, delicate link. (No pun intended). You can tell that it's starting to go when you notice excessive play in the steering wheel or when the car is constantly changing direction every time it hits even the smallest pebble on the road. In order to minimize its wear, do not attempt to move the steering wheel while the car is stationary as this puts too much strain on the rack. Those of you with S4 or newer Esprits with power assisted steering can ignore this statement.

Also on this topic, Mark Pfeffer wrote: 

"I once read a Remarque (Lotus Owners Group newsletter) article about Esprit steering racks and how the bearings go to mush from moisture and lack of grease. As noted on my recent post I had questions about the working parts."

"Today, I opened the steering box up from both the lower and side cover plates. Low and behold as the Remarque article noted, moisture in the bearings. Thank God I caught it early and was able to put in some new synthetic grease. The bearings were fine after a cleaning, but there was a distinct presence of moisture. The next step was to "waterproof"(??) the box housing the gears. I used some of the liquid blue gasket compound available at any parts store, replacing one of the shim plates with a thin (VERY THIN) layer of the magical blue goo. Don't know what the long term ramifications will be, but the steering has the same solid feel as before (e.g.: no play), it actually turns a little easier, and hopefully a lot more resistance to water infiltration in the steering box."

"I think this little bit of preventive maintenance shall be added to the annual "to do" list. Checking the lower (larger) plate is VERY easy and the time spent can save some tremendous headache (replacing a steering rack) and that all important $$ for other necessary projects on our beloved Lotii." 

... to which Tim Engel added: 

"JAE now offers a rebuild kit for the Esprit S1/ S2 rack-n-pinion. However, they are now out of stock. Jeff is trying to get some in now."

"If the two access plates you mentioned, the one on the forward face of the housing provides access to a spring loaded slipper foot... sliding block guide... that presses the rack against the pinion in order to maintain a zero backlash condition. There are shims under the cover that produce the correct pressure setting. If the rack has developed some slop, removing one or more shims will allow the cover to move in more when the bolts are tightened and press the rack closer to the pinion."

"Similarly, the access plate on the bottom of the housing provides access to the pinion shaft bearings. If the pinion shaft bearings have developed too much end float, removing one or more shims will tighten the preload on the bearings."

"Re-shimming will only accommodate so much slop, and it's time to rebuild the rack. The kit contains the pushing for the end of the rack opposite the pinion housing (passenger side), pinion shaft bearings, rack slipper foot and inner tie-rod rebuild parts. "

"If the rack is tight with minimal free play, there is no reason to mess with it... so don't." 

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