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Lily steering rack (1 reply)

10 months ago
Lily 10 months ago

Despite the new rules on MOT’s for cars older than 40 years from May 1st I decided to have Lily tested as this car has not been roadworthy since 2004. Unfortunately the car failed on excessive play in the steering rack. Shame because I had it all completely apart and refitted the suspect part with the luxury of no engine or subframe in place! My assessment of the rack was incorrect at time, some pressure being to maintain all originality of the mk1.

My previous expertise was engine build, albeit within aviation, having served an apprenticeship with Rolls-Royce in the early 80’s. May be this excuses me for getting this wrong!

Hey ho, live and learn. I wasn’t happy with the various guidance in the manuals so devised my own checklist for this:

Steering rack

  1. Orientate car for rack removal drivers side.
  2. Relieve torque on road wheels for ease of removal later.
  3. Remove bonnet.
  4. Remove front carpets and gear lever gator.
  5. Disconnect steering wheel.
  6. Jack up car at all four corners and place high on axle stands. Two scissors under the subframe plus trolley under the gearbox. Two axle stands on rear subframe and two axle stands close to forward bulkhead.
  7. Remove road wheels.
  8. Undo steering rack track rod ends.
  9. Undo exhaust from rear to front and support . (Allow to drop down at rear the  4 inches, maybe incrementally as you lower the subframe in point 17..) Some manuals suggest removing entirely, but not necessary if carefully supported.
  10. Undo gearbox remote two bolts, moving exhaust carefully.
  11. Undo engine tie bar.
  12. Remove all 4 tower bolts
  13. Remove front subframe mounts.
  14. Remove rear subframe mounts.
  15. Assess brake pipes plus any other restrictions (maybe the clutch slave cylinder?) and review all work.
  16. Remove wiring from brake light sensor on front subframe.
  17. Now lower the subframe/engine approx 4 inches. very carefully and slowly with safety axle stands/bricks as required. Check hydrolastic displacer hoses as you go down. If you have shock absorbers fitted, you must disconnect from the upper suspension arms before lowering.
  18. Undo steering rack 2 x u bolts from inside the car, then carefully remove the u bolts that support the steering rack.
  19. Remove rack.
  20. Ensure the new rack is centred and then carefully insert (remember foam bush!).
  21. Now install and secure with 2 x u bolts.
  22. Install new steering arms (if required) with new lock washers.
  23. Reverse from 15.
  24. When the subframe is finally raised take great care to align the tower bolts. Would recommend fitting new bolts with anti seize grease and aligning by sight (reason for bonnet removal) whilst carefully manipulating with the front end jacks.
  25. Now reconnect steering by eye/measure as per manual.
  26. Re-bleed brakes due to disconnecting at point 15.
  27. Now have the tracking checked/ adjusted at a local garage.
  28. Job done:)

So what are the threats against success with this?

  1. Personal safety. Ensure all jacking and axle stand supporting is done carefully. In addition I always put the wheels under the car for added safety.
  2. If you are working alone, keep your mobile in your pocket in case of injury.
  3. Protect your paintwork with dust sheets, etc.
  4. Take a staged approach, do not force anything.
  5. Take great care when re-aligning subframe bolts. Do not cross any thread, particular care with the tower bolts.
  6. When finished, re-read the stages as a checklist to ensure everything is complete and correctly done up.
  7. If possible, have someone inspect your work. It is very easy for error, this may be trapped by a second pair of eyes.

There may be some better ideas out there, but this worked well. 

Different subject, I am planning to take part in the London to Brighton mini run with my two young sons on May 20th (have ticket). I am new to the club & would like to know if the MCR has a designated parking area in Crystal Palace & Brighton? Look forward to meeting others.....

thanks for reading,



10 months ago
youngres 10 months ago

Replacing a steering rack is not one of the easiest jobs on a Mini. Daunting as it seems, dropping the subframe, is no big deal. I changed my rack last year and it was an afternoon's job. The biggest issue was getting the U bolts back. These come off quickly enough but they have to be at just the right angle to go back - well that's what I found.  Hope that all goes well.


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