Rack and Pinion Steering

A reader writes:

Dear Ray: What exactly is rack and pinion steering?


— Claude Bawls

Dear Claude Bawls: The steering rack, as it’s known in the parlance of the trade, is a long iron bar, flat on one side, with thin serrations, known as “teeth,” which run the entire length of the steering rack. These teeth look like very precise vertical notches.

The pinion — or, more accurately, the pinion shaft — is another long metal rod, also grooved, but without a flat side. The grooves along the pinion shaft are horizontal, not vertical, as in the case of the steering rack. The pinion shaft comes into the rack at an angle of about ninety degrees and is held in place by a collar, so that the two, rack and pinion, come together in a kind of magical union.

The pinion shaft is connected at the hip to the steering column. Thus, when you crank your steering wheel to the right, for example, the pinion shaft turns the opposite direction (clockwise).

“In simple language, the rotary motion of the pinion is changed to transverse motion by the rack. The rack moves to the right, making the wheels go left. Thus, the car turns left” (rocket scientist Harry Dong).

Hope that answers your question, Claude Bawls. Thank you for visiting.


  • Gary

    March 16, 2010

    So this is what it’s come to now, Harvey: rack and pinion steering?

    What a joke.

  • Ray

    March 16, 2010

    Don’t forget cunnilinguous, Gary.

  • KelSall

    March 16, 2010

    Dude, where’s your edge? This was one of the first posts
    on these pages that didn’t offend me.

    What’s happened to you…old age? scurvy? lack of confidence?

  • ShyButIntrigued

    March 16, 2010

    I like the post because of its subtle intrigue.

    I looked up cunnilinguous and the search came up blank. Suggested I look for “cunnilingus,” and while Shy, I am also intrigued and a definite advocate for more education on this topic as well as its proper spelling.

    Don’t listen to the haters, Ray. I’ve always wanted to know what rack and pinion steering means, too, and you not only explained it, but kept me awake during the process. Nice job, Claude Bawls, in sending in a fine question.

    Many thanks!

  • Ray

    March 16, 2010

    Thank you, ShyButIntrigued. I don’t sweat the haters.

    And to all you haters out there: don’t hate the player; hate the game.

  • Nick

    March 17, 2010

    You have to admit, though, that hating the player is infinitely more satisfying.

  • Ray

    March 18, 2010

    True dat, true dat.

  • Lavanya sri

    August 20, 2010

    What is pinion air seal assembly ? pls explain its principle and operation .

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