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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm on my third rack and it's making noises now. First was replaced under CPO in April, the second made the similar noises to the first one, and was replaced in May, and now the current one is making noises.

I first notice a clunking sound when backing up a trailer up my driveway and it made a clunk felt through the steering wheel. Dealer couldn't replicate but a test ride produced the noise and they diagnosed a rack. A new rack was installed and I got it home and at parking lot speeds and stopped, rocking the steering wheel ten degrees back and forth produced a new clunking sound. They replaced that rack, stating a faulty rack.

Now it's June, the CPO ends in July and the clunk is back.

Any suggestions? The car has 78k, lca bushings are new, and the dealer can find no fault in the suspension components.
 

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Worn inner tie rods? The bolts that hold the rack in place are not tight? Just some thoughts. I could not imagine (probability pretty low) that you ended up with 3 bad racks. There is a sticky at the top of the XC90 forum that talks about suspension clunks, perhaps it has some ideas.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
It's going in tomorrow morning. The tech said everything looked great and I didn't see any issues with tire wear. Update to follow.
 

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Tie Rods, the brakes, subframe bushings, Upper Strut mount bushings, Upper spring seats, Ball joints, worn shocks, Sway bar end links and wheel bearings can all make the noise you're describing.

Would you describe the noise as a clunk or rattle or creaking or grinding?
Does the vehicle have a loose or wobbling feel at highway speeds?
Does it make a noise going over speed bump at faster then normal speed?
When you step on the brakes in a straight line does it make a noise?
When you brake and turn does it make a noise?
How much play is in the steering wheel before the wheels start to turn? Any Noise?
If you can replicate the noise have someone cycle the steering wheel with the hood up and try to locate the noise. Then repeat with Volvo shop manager present


When a power steering system like Rack and Pinion is replaced, the reservoir and hydraulic line need to be flush with clean fluid and then filled with new fluid. Then the mechanic should cycle the steering wheel with the lid off the reservoir to purge the air out. Pull the lid off the reservoir and check the fluid level. If the lids pops off with pressure and the fluid level is low, then the mechanic didn't properly purge the steering fluid properly and left trapped air in the system. If you noticed the steering pump seemed to strain when turning and feel loose then this may be the issue. The reason for flushing the system to purge any possible metal flakes/shavings from the worn pump that may damage the new pump.

This video show how to properly drain the system: You Tube

This video show how it's done without the proper flush: You tube

10 min oil change shops use a machine that mimics this process in the second video. That machine will not flush the rack and pinion or the pump in most cases.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Tie Rods, the brakes, subframe bushings, Upper Strut mount bushings, Upper spring seats, Ball joints, worn shocks, Sway bar end links and wheel bearings can all make the noise you're describing.

Would you describe the noise as a clunk or rattle or creaking or grinding?

Clunk or popping noise, both heard and felt through steering wheel. Especially at a standstill. If the dealer didn't swear the tie rods were okay, that would be my first thought.

Does the vehicle have a loose or wobbling feel at highway speeds?

It requires more steering wheel input to maintain a straight line on the highway. Just little fingertip movements, but more than I would expect.

Does it make a noise going over speed bump at faster then normal speed?

Seems pretty quiet on the bumps. I'll get an occasional noise, but nothing that seems out of line for a P2. It is quieter than my S80.

When you step on the brakes in a straight line does it make a noise?
When you brake and turn does it make a noise?

No noise or issues with braking.

How much play is in the steering wheel before the wheels start to turn? Any Noise?

Steering is responsive, I don't notice a dead spot, and no noise except for the clunking.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I jacked each front wheel up and rocked them at 12 & 6 and 9 & 3. 12 & 6 had no play, indicating no wheel bearing issues. 9 & 3 produced the clunking noise. The outer tie rod ends appear to be new, so I assume the dealer replaced those last round.

When the steering wheel is rocked back and forth, the clunking is felt though out the front suspension system. I touched each item (struts, strut bearings, end links, LCAs, and the outer tie rod ends) while it was being rocked and didn't feel the intensity increase.

I then went over to the wife's mini and did the same test. No noise at 9 & 3. I know that the racks are different on each car, but I wanted to confirm that in general operation, rack and pinions do not make noise when rocked at 9 & 3.

Everything is pointing to a failed rack, but I'm very surprised that the car destroyed three in a row.
 

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I jacked each front wheel up and rocked them at 12 & 6 and 9 & 3. 12 & 6 had no play, indicating no wheel bearing issues. 9 & 3 produced the clunking noise. The outer tie rod ends appear to be new, so I assume the dealer replaced those last round.

When the steering wheel is rocked back and forth, the clunking is felt though out the front suspension system. I touched each item (struts, strut bearings, end links, LCAs, and the outer tie rod ends) while it was being rocked and didn't feel the intensity increase.

I then went over to the wife's mini and did the same test. No noise at 9 & 3. I know that the racks are different on each car, but I wanted to confirm that in general operation, rack and pinions do not make noise when rocked at 9 & 3.

Everything is pointing to a failed rack, but I'm very surprised that the car destroyed three in a row.
Cut the clamp off the rack side of the inner tie rod boot, slide it off and see if you see movement with the inner tie rod. also check to make sure that the inner tie rod is properly seated to the rack. Find the source of the clunk, is it internal to the rack or is it one of the things that connects to the rack? If it turns out to be the rack, I would have the dealer flush the power steering system, until nothing but clean fluid came out of it. I would also have him check the pump to see if it is causing your problem. At this point I would wager that the rack is the symptom and not the problem. Have you had the car since new? Is it possible that the wrong fluid got added to the power steering system? Are any of the lines crimped?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I'm with you on the rack being the symptom, and not the problem. The xc90 is still under CPO, I've had it for 6 months, and it's been a local car for the dealer. So I don't think there is a fluid issue. Maybe a line is crimped.

I'll let them check it out. I was just surprised that the dealer would believe that there is a potential for two rack to be defective from the manufacturer, but I guess it's possible.

Thanks for the talking points at tomorrow's service appointment.
 

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X2 with Raymensean. Inner tie rod under the rubber boot or something internal to the rack and pinion itself.

Odd thing is these are easy to diagnose?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Just got off the phone from the dealer. The tech confirms that the steering rack is faulty. As this will be the third rack they've installed, they are checking with the "Engineers at Volvo" to verify installation technique or to see if there has been an issue with the remanufactured racks having problems.

The problem appears to be poor quality control issues at the reman facility. Anyone else having problems with their steering racks on the XC90 V8's?
 

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Just got off the phone from the dealer. The tech confirms that the steering rack is faulty. As this will be the third rack they've installed, they are checking with the "Engineers at Volvo" to verify installation technique or to see if there has been an issue with the remanufactured racks having problems.

The problem appears to be poor quality control issues at the reman facility. Anyone else having problems with their steering racks on the XC90 V8's?
Hmm I wonder if Volvo NA can get you a NEW unit.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Just got the xc90 and it seems the problem has been resolved. They loosened the mounting bolts that attached the rack to the sub frame, centered the rack and reattached the rack. They believe the manner in which it was installed caused the steering u-joints to bind and make noise.

It doesn't make noise currently, however it took 800 miles each time to start making noise.
 

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Hmm interesting. I think that this may fix your problem for a short time, although I hope it does fix your problem. I am a little shocked that there is enough room in the bolt holes to be able to move the rack around a meaningful distance. Perhaps there are bushings that are required, or is this a case like the ball joint bolts in the earlier models.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
It's been a while, let's see if the XC90 gurus have any advice...as the xc90 is back in the shop.

Cliff notes:
76745 (4/12) - Steering rack clunks during backing up a grade and turning. dealer R/R rack

77304 (5/12) - Steering rack clunks again, especially at low speed parking and reversing up drive way. dealer R/R rack

78741 (6/12) - Steering rack starts clunking again, dealer has tech "adjust rack". noise decreases.

(7/12) - I take the vehicle to dealer, the service manager has me try a 2007 xc90 3.2 with 110K and it clunks too. He offers a loaner and takes my V8 back in for a week for more testing. They disconnect the speed sensor, problem goes away. They reconnect the speed sensor and problem stays away. They try to get problem to come back. No luck. During this week, the loaner car is a 07 xc90 V8 with 42k and its steering is beautifully smooth and clunk free.

79000 (7/12) - I replace the endlinks with iPD HD ones, and install the subframe bushing inserts. Much better steering and stability.

83100 (9/12) - I get tired of it clunking and take it back. They are going to replace the rack again.

Here's what I've come up with. My xc90 steering makes clunking noises during parking that are not attributed to bushings (all new or verified by dealer as good). The clunk is accompanied by a feeling that can transmits through the floor board or the brake pedal. A higher mileage xc90 does similar, a lower milage xc90 does not. Therefore, something is worn. If all xc90's did this, the lower mileage V8 would have done it too.

Can anyone help??? No way three steering racks are bad.
 

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How did this end? I have noises on mine and want to get rid of them and was hoping this can shed some light on what finally fixed it.
 
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