Wednesday, October 2, 2013

DIY Fix: How to Remove and Replace Steering Rack Bushings (Lexus GS300 / Toyota Aristo)

This the is the bag that contained our urethane steering rack bushings.  We got them from Sewell Lexus.
The 1998-2005 Lexus GS (Toyota Aristo in Japan) is a great luxury car that is quite affordable now on the used market for many car shoppers.  The car was billed as a sports/luxury sedan, and if it was optioned as a GS400, it was one of the quickest mid-sized sedans at the time in 1998 with a 1/4 mile time in the low 14 second range.  Straight line prowess aside, the car was also quite capable of tackling winding back roads too.  The Lexus did have to make compromises though, especially in the area of steering feedback.

To keep drivers who prefer luxury comfort happy, Lexus chose to use rubber bushings in the steering rack.  These rubber bushings do a commendable job at keeping vibration and harshness to a minimum.  However, they also dampen out most of the information the front tires give to the driver during cornering.  To make things worse, as the bushings age, they allow quite a bit of flex and movement of the steering rack.  This flexing of the rack gives the steering wheel a "dead zone," an area where even if you turn the steering wheel, nothing happens.  The dead zone lasts for a split second or so until the car will actually begin to turn, but it's enough to reduce driver confidence.  In worse case scenarios, the bushings can degrade to the point where the steering wheel will have side-to-side free play even while driving straight!  Not safe if you needed to do an emergency maneuver.

Our project Lexus GS did have some noticeable steering rack flex during cornering, but the dead zone wasn't as bad as on other GS300s we have driven.  Follow along as we show you a basic guide on how to replace the steering rack bushings for a GS300 to restore driver confidence.  As always, we do not have any responsibility for the work you do to your car.  If in doubt, have a professional do the job!