Of the two systems designed for steering in passenger cars and trucks, the ‘rack and pinion’ system is the most popular. Modern steering is uniformly power assisted, which adds both electronic and mechanical components to the complex arrangement of gears and pulleys that transfer information from a steering wheel to the drive wheels themselves.
In a rack and pinion system, a gear (called the pinion) is attached to the end of the vehicle’s steering wheel shaft. This circular gear meshes with a linear set of teeth carved into the connecting rod between the front wheels. This is called the ‘Rack’.
Historically, Rack steering has been power-assisted by the use of hydraulic pumps. Recent innovation has produced Electronic Power Steering (EPS). The major cause of failure in steering systems has been hydraulic fluid loss through leaks, especially in Fairbanks where seals deteriorate quickly due to cold temperatures. EPS is slowly changing that, making rack and pinion steering more reliable and cost-effective.
Front End Components: Steering Gearbox System in Fairbanks, AK
Steering gearbox systems operate using the same principle as a rack and pinion system: By using gears to change the circular motion of the steering wheel into the back-and-forth, sideways movement of the two front wheels (much the same as a bicycle handlebar). While rack-and-pinion systems are very simple, the distinct advantage of a gearbox is the strength of their construction. Gear boxes are found in heavy duty trucks and vehicles that require a stout front-end build.
Steering gearboxes also use hydraulic power to assist with ease of turning. These pumps come with rubber hoses and seals which fail in the cold. At METRO, we replace your factory power steering hose by rebuilding it on-site with arctic grade materials. This is a durable solution that matches the gearbox design.
Red fluid on ground
Brown fluid on ground
Squealing when turning sharply
Squealing while maneuvering in parking lots
Consistent whine when turning wheel
CV Joints in Fairbanks, AK
What’s a CV joint anyway?
If you’ve driven a front wheel drive car in Alaska for more than a couple of years, you have likely paid for this repair: CV Boot or CV axle replacement. But what exactly did you pay for?
CV stands for ‘constant velocity’. A constant velocity joint, or CV joint, is part of the power-train system in a car or truck. The ‘power-train’ is a system of axles and joints that act as arteries delivering the rotational motion of the engine to the driving motion of the wheels.
These power-arteries have to be able to handle incredible torque. Axles are stout! Because cars and trucks have wheels that are suspended from the frame to achieve safe handling and a smooth ride, the way the wheels receive this power needs to be flexible.
See the problem? Flexible and stout don’t go together! This is where the “constant velocity” joint comes in. Most front-wheel drive cars have four joints that allow the power-train to flex without interrupting the transfer of power to the wheels. Four-wheel drive cars and trucks can have 8 to twelve of these joints.
These joints are genius assemblies of rotating slots and ball- bearings, bathed in grease and enclosed in a rubber ‘boot’ that moves with the joint as the wheels turn side to side while flexing up and down with terrain contours.
How do I know when to replace my CV joints?
Regular inspections. We say it all the time, but bring your car or truck to a mechanic who cares and who sees your car at least twice per year. Their careful eye will save you so much money!
In reality, CV axles would never need to be replaced if the joint- covering, or ‘boot’ never wore out. When this covering ruptures due to fatigue, age (and in our case cold weather) the smooth bearings and pathways which are lubricated by grease, become contaminated by road debris and quickly abrade.
Have one of our mechanics become your mechanic. Let us inspect your CV boots with every oil change. In many cases we can save you money by replacing only the boot on your drive axles, rather than the whole CV axle itself.
Clicking sound when taking sharp turns
Clicking in front wheels when driving in reverse
Smell of burning grease on exhaust
Car won’t engage in 4 wheel drive
Clicking while maneuvering parking lots
Ask Us About Front End Repairs and Services
Front end assembly wear, power steering leaks, battery and alternator failure, and engine cooling system (or radiator) leaks----every one of these situations happen in a vehicle's life due to regular usage. The more you drive, the closer you will come to eventually every one of these fixes. How they happen is up to you. At METRO, we love spotting the fix before it breaks. We love catching the leak before it becomes overheating. We love identifying the worn rack before you cannot steer. Let one of our mechanics become your mechanic and stay on the fixed side of broken!