Dear Car Talk:
I have a question about my 2003 Buick Regal. I've been a diesel mechanic for 40 years, and I'm now retired. I need to change the rack and pinion on my Buick, but I need some instructions. Every time I try to ask this question online, all I get are listings of places that sell the unit. I never get the answer I need. Can you tell me where I can get instructions on how to replace the unit? -- Bill
Yeah, pretty smart ad placement by Steering Racks R Us, huh? My first suggestion would be to add the words "YouTube" to your search. YouTube has become populated with a ton of how-to videos, where amateur mechanics, plumbers, appliance repairers and brain surgeons happily show you how to do something very specific.
When searching, it's often helpful to know how many years your particular Regal was produced. In your case, that fourth generation Regal was made from 1997-2004. So any of those years should work. It also happened to be essentially the same car as the Chevy Lumina (R.I.P.), the Chevy Monte Carlo (R.I.P.), the Pontiac Grand Prix (R.I.P.) and the Oldsmobile Intrigue (R.I.P.). So if you can find videos on any of those models from those years, you'll probably learn what you need to know. From my experience, the only thing that's at all tricky about replacing the rack and pinion on your car is that you have to lower the rear section of the subframe to get at it. So you might want to recruit a friend to provide an extra set of hands, and help you line things up. That'll make the job easier. Just pick someone you're not that fond of, because the friendship will probably be over after this.
After you replace the rack, you'll need to either reuse or replace your outer tie rod ends. And once you do that, you'll need an alignment. Otherwise, your rack and pinion will work great, but it'll only drive you in circles. It's a job that's within the grasp of an experienced weekend mechanic, Bill. But it might take a whole weekend, especially if you decide to tackle it alone. So make a bunch of sandwiches first.