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Step-by-Step Steering Rack Bushing Replacement on a 1st Gen Tacoma (or 3rd Gen 4Runner)

Over time, rubber bushings wear out and need to be replaced. This happened for me recently when I Replaced All the Bushings on my Tacoma, and I figured that others could benefit from a quick little guide that shows the entire process and lists all the necessary parts for replacing the bushings in the steering rack.

Parts

One thing to be aware of when replacing the steering rack bushings is that 1st gen Tacomas have two different bushing configurations depending on the model year - with the change happening around the 2000 model. Earlier trucks - it seems - use a smaller diameter bolt at the center location to secure the actual rack (which is the same across all years) to the frame, while later years use a larger diameter bolt. Luckily, the good folks at Energy Suspension have included sleeves for both in this kit, as long as you purchase the kit for the '95-00 model years, regardless of the actual year of your 1st gen Tacoma.

Note: Energy Suspension also has a separate kit for the '01-04 model years (8.10103 black | red). This kit is identical to the '95-00 kit but contains only the sleeve for the larger diameter bolt. Personally, I think it's a better idea to buy the '95-00 kit regardless, to give yourself the flexibility.

Tools

The tools for this job are relatively simple.

Doing the Job

With the parts and tools in hand, it's time to get started.

General Preparation

  1. Using a floor jack and jack stands, support the front of the truck on the frame with both front wheels completely off the ground.
  2. Remove the wheels.
  3. Lock the steering wheel. This is necessary in order to maintain correct steering wheel orientation once the steering rack is removed in order to access the bushings.
  4. Make sure the parking brake is on, and at least one rear tire is chalked.

Removing the Sway Bar to Access the Steering Rack

For photos of removing the sway bar, see Remove the sway bar and sway bar end links. If you will be reinstalling your sway bar, now may be a good time to replace your sway bar and end link bushings as well with an Energy Suspension kit:

  • Tacoma - kit 8.5118 w/27mm bushings (black | red)
  • 4Runner - kit 8.5117 w/26mm bushings (black | red)
  1. Use a 14mm socket to remove the nut on the top of the sway bar end link.
  2. Remove the washer and bushing and set them aside.
  3. Repeat for the opposite side.
  4. Use a 12mm socket to remove the two (2) bolts securing the sway bar brackets to the frame.
  5. Repeat for the opposite side.
  6. Remove the sway bar.

Disconnecting Outer Tie Rod (OTRE) from the Lower Ball Joint (LBJ)

In order to more easily move the steering rack when replacing the bushings, it's beneficial to disconnect the rack from the LBJ.

  1. Remove the cotter pin from the OTRE castle nut.
  2. Use a 19mm socket to loosen the castle nut securing the OTRE to the LBJ.
  3. Use the smaller Pittman Puller in the OTC 6295 Front End Service Set to separate the OTRE and LBJ. Note: leave the castle nut loosely threaded onto the OTRE when you do this, and it will keep the joint from exploding when it's pressed out.

Removing the Steering Rack

The steering rack is secured in three locations.

  1. Use a 19mm socket to remove the lower nut and upper bolt for the passenger-side bracket that secures the steering rack to the cross member. Then set the bracket aside.
  2. Use a 19mm socket and breaker bar to remove the center bolt securing the steering rack. Note: The bolt points towards the ground and is accessed from the above the steering rack. The lower nut is a welded nut and cannot be loosened.
  3. Use a 22mm socket and 22mm wrench to remove the driver side bolt and nut securing the steering rack. Note: If you have a differential drop kit, it may need to be removed in order to fully remove the long bolt.
  4. Using a 12mm socket, a wobble, and the necessary extensions, remove the bolt securing a bracket that secures the power steering lines to the frame. This will allow more/easier movement of the steering rack for bushing replacement.

  5. The steering rack is now loose and can be wiggled off of the mounts to access the bushings.

Removing the Driver Side Bushing

  1. With the the front driver side of the steering rack accessible, position a large receiver cup on the front side of the rack to capture the bushing as it is pressed out of the rack.
  2. Place the large C-clamp from the OTC 7249 Ball Joint (and U-Joint) Service Kit around the receiver cup, with the foot of the screw on the inner sleeve of the bushing.
  3. Tighten the clamp in order to push the bushing toward the front of the vehicle and into the receiver cup. Note: reset as necessary in order to avoid contact between the screw of the c-clamp and the steering rack.

Removing the Center Bushing

  1. With the the center bushing of the steering rack accessible, position a 32mm socket or appropriate receiver cup on the top side of the rack to capture the bushing as it is pressed out of the rack.
  2. Place the large C-clamp from the OTC 7249 Ball Joint (and U-Joint) Service Kit around the receiver cup, with the foot of the screw on the inner sleeve of the bushing.
  3. Tighten the clamp in order to push the bushing toward the front of the vehicle and into the receiver cup. Note: reset as necessary in order to avoid contact between the screw of the c-clamp and the steering rack.

Cleaning the Steering Rack

At this point, all of the bushings are removed.

Use a quick-drying solvent of your choice to clean the areas of the steering rack where the bushings were installed. Be sure to remove any old rubber, dirt, and oil from these areas prior to installing the new bushings.

Installing the Bushings

The driver side and center bushings are each made of two pieces that slide into each side of the steering rack before inserting a metal sleeve.

  1. Coat the outside of the driver bushings with lubricant to make installation easier and reduce squeaking during operation.
  2. Slide the driver side bushings into the steering rack.
  3. Coat the inside of the driver side bushings with lubricant, as well as the outside of the driver side metal sleeve.
  4. Slide the metal sleeve into the bushing, using the C-clamp if necessary.

  5. Coat the outside of the center bushings with lubricant to make installation easier and reduce squeaking during operation.
  6. Slide the center bushings into the steering rack.
  7. Find the metal sleeve that matches the original inner sleeve of the original center bushing most closely; this is the sleeve you will use. Note: This is the reason to order the '95-00 kit, so that you have the option of sleeves at this point.
  8. Coat the inside of the center bushings with lubricant, as well as the outside of the center metal sleeve.
  9. Slide the metal sleeve into the bushing, using the C-clamp if necessary.
  10. For the passenger side bushing, lubricate any surfaces that touch the steering rack or bracket and fit it over the steering rack in the appropriate location.

Reinstalling the Steering Rack

  1. On the passenger side, position the bracket over the new bushing and hand tighten the 19mm nut and 19mm bolt to hold it in place.
  2. On the driver side, insert the 22mm long bolt from the front of the crossmember.
  3. Place the large washer supplied by Energy Suspension between the crossmember and steering rack, and pass the bolt through it, the driver side bushing, the previously removed washer, and into the 22mm nut

  4. Tighten the 22mm driver side nut/bolt and 19mm passenger side bracket until the steering rack is pulled closer to the crossmember and the center bushing is aligned with the mounting point on the crossmember.

  5. Insert the 19mm center bolt through the bushing and hand tighten it. Note: if you can't hand tighten this bolt, then adjust the driver and passenger anchor points until the center bolt moves easily.
  6. Torque the 19mm passenger side bracket to 123 ft-lbs.
  7. Torque the 19mm center bolt to 123 ft-lbs.
  8. Torque the 22mm driver side nut to 141 ft-lbs.
  9. Using a 12mm socket, a wobble, and the necessary extensions, reinstall the bracket that secures the power steering lines to the frame. Torque to "tight."

Reconnecting the Outer Tie Rod (OTRE) to the Lower Ball Joint (LBJ)

  1. Insert the OTRE post into the LBJ and thread on the associated 19mm castle nut.
  2. Using a 19mm socket, torque the castle nut to 67 ft-lbs, plus any additional to allow for insertion of the cotter pin.
  3. Insert and secure a new cotter pin.

Reinstalling the Sway Bar, End Links and Wheels

It's always important to torque suspension components with the truck on the ground, so be sure to install the wheels prior to the final torqueing of the lug nuts and sway bar end links.

  1. Use a 12mm socket to install the two (2) bolts securing the sway bar brackets to the frame. Repeat for other side. Do not torque.
  2. Install the bushing and washer on the sway bar end link before using a 14mm socket to secure the nut on the top of the sway bar end link. Repeat for other side. Do not torque.
  3. Torque the 12mm bolts securing the sway bar brackets to the frame to 19 ft-lbs.
  4. Reinstall the wheels and tighten, but do not torque, the lug nuts.
  5. Remove jack stands supporting front of vehicle.
  6. With truck supporting its own weight, torque lug nuts to 89 ft-lbs.
  7. Torque the 14mm nuts on the sway bar end links to 14 ft-lbs.

With everything taken care of, take the truck in for an alignment!

 

 

 

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