Community Member Credit: Kevlo911
I bet over 75% of 4th gen owners have a leaking steering rack and/or worn tie rods…
I bought the rack from: https://www.carsteering.com/buynow/1999/Nissan/Maxima/Rack_and_Pinion/80-00386_R
I bought the 99se rack because it is stiffer. It comes with new inner tie rods and new o-rings. You should replace the outer tie rods and sway bar bushings at the same time.
As for the how-to.
- Loosen lugs
- Jack up and put the car on jack stands.
- Remove wheels
- Remove outer tie rods(I did not and paid for it ) – You need to rent the outer tie rod removal tool from AutoZone to do this.
- Remove the bolt on top of the sway bar end link and the 2 bolts on the bracket that holds the “inner” bushing in.
- Move the sway bar up and wiggle it out from the passenger side.
Remove the y-pipe (rent the o2 removal tool)
As you can see, I forgot to rent the tool
Now the fun part. Crossmember. Remove the engine mount bolts, in the rear I used a long 10in extension to get to the bolt from the engine bay(intake removed). Front engine mounts you need an open-end wrench on one side and a socket on the other(or two sockets…) I supported the engine with a jack and a 2×4. If you have a tranny jack it would be better. Remove the 2 bolts in the front and rear(4total bolts) on the cross member and it will dropdown. You can replace the mounts right now if you want to.
See a plate covering this mount on the rack. It is behind the rear header and is held on by three 10mm screws. Remove it.
Now remove the fluid lines, have something to catch the fluid(I had a trash can lid). Remove these from the engine bay, it is much easier that way.
Use a 14mm open-end wrench to get the bottom one. On the top one, remove the hose and swap the nipple on the new rack once it is out of the car.
Remove those nuts. Now you will see the spindle, there is a 12mm nut holding it on the spindle of the rack. Make sure the steering wheel is straight before you remove it.
Remove the bolts holding on the rack now. One mount is pictured above, the other you will see when you are down there. USE THIS ALONG WITH MY TIPS TO CHANGE THE RACK
FSM is basically the same write up too. As you can tell I didn’t do everything they did.
You will remove the rack from the middle, it will NOT slide out from the sides(I found out the hard way). You will move it towards the pass side and then drop it down in the middle. You will install it the same way. I also installed new bushing on the rack, I got MOOG bushings from rockauto.com
You will soon find out the spindle does not want to go into the joint. You will have to bang on top of the joint to get it on the spindle. I used my tq wrench and breaker bar to bang it in. I didn’t have a rubber mallet(I did this with the rack mounts partially in, only the lower nuts were in). Rest is the reversal. Next, you get it aligned… I still have to do this, my wheel is cocked to the right.
This will take all day and would be much easier with air tools. But I saved about 800-1200bucks labor by doing it myself and I now have a stiffer and better feeling steering system.