rack and pinion steering

rack and pinion steering gear with a shift movement is used not only on small and medium-sized passenger cars, but also on heavier and faster vehicles, such as the Audi A8 and Mercedes E and S Class, plus almost all new light van designs with independent front wheel suspension. The advantages over manual recirculating ball steering systems are :

rack and pinion steering
  • simple construction;
  • economical and uncomplicated to manufacture;
  • easy to operate due to good degree of efficiency;
  • contact between steering rack and pinion is free of play and even internal damping is maintained
  • tie rods can be joined directly to the steering rack;
  • minimal steering elasticity compliance;
  • compact (the reason why this type of steering is fitted in all European and Japanese front-wheel-drive vehicles);
  • the idler arm (including bearing) and the intermediate rod are no longer needed;
  • easy to limit steering rack travel and therefore the steering angle.

The main disadvantages are:

  • greater sensitivity to impacts;
  • greater stress in the case of tie rod angular forces;
  • disturbance of the steering wheel is easier to feel (particularly in front-wheel drivers);
  • tie rod length sometimes too short where it is connected at the ends of the rack (side take-off design;
  • size of the steering angle dependent on steering rack travel;
  • this sometimes requires short steering arms 3 resulting in higher forces in the entire steering system;
  • decrease in steering ratio over the steer angle associated with heavy steering during parking if the vehicle does not have power-assisted steering;
  •  cannot be used on rigid axles.

There are four different configurations of this type of steering gear :

  • Type 1 Pinion gear located outside the vehicle centre (on the left on left-hand drive and on the right on right-hand drive) and tie rod joints screwed into the sides of the steering rack (side take-off).
  • Type 2 Pinion gear in vehicle centre and tie rods taken off at the sides.
  • Type 3 Pinion gear to the side and centre take-off, i.e. the tie rods are fixed in the vehicle centre to the steering rack.
  • Type 4 ‘Short steering’ with off-centre pinion gear and both tie rods fixed to one side of the steering rack.
  • Types 1 and 3 are the solutions generally used, whereas Type 2 was found in some Porsche vehicles, and Type 4 used to be preferred by Audi and VW.

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