Need Help Gen 3 Steering Rack

I have the steering rack out of my 2006 montero limited (hell of a job getting it out, but that's another story) and have a question regarding the replacement. Take a look at the picture with the new and old part side by side. Notice the hard line "feed tubes" and how they don't route to the same spot on the valve housing. I called customer service where I ordered the new rack from and they said don't use it and sent me a replacement. The problem is that the replacement is built the same way (doesn't match the original). I called again and they basically said I'm SOL and are going to give me a refund. The problem is that I need a solution and I'm going on 2 weeks of being without a vehicle due to this part and potential manufacturing defect. My question is - does the routing of these lines matter, or is this a non-issue? I don't know the theory of operation on rack and pinion steering so I need some help understanding the impact of the lines and the order of them on the valve housing. Any help on this topic would be greatly appreciated!

rack and pinion comparison.jpg
Well, I bit the bullet and installed the rack as I need to get back on the road. Still not at a point where I can test it. Need to add coolant and put battery back in. I did the rack along with the adventure driven designs custom springs and bilstein shocks. Super pumped to drive it after these mods. I’ll update this post with results of rack performance once I drive it around.
It might be too late to comment but looks like you can just swap the hard line going into the pinion area? Then the line does not cross over like in the old one.

It might be assembly error ?
I thought it was an assembly error too. I had the vendor send me another rack assembly but it was plumbed the same way (not matching the one I removed) I did try to remove the lines before installing, but I couldn’t get them out after I loosened the nuts. I pulled on them pretty hard, but was afraid to get too brutal with them to avoid breaking something. It’s too late now to try to swap the lines again as the rack is in. I’ll be working on this Friday evening (and over the weekend if necessary) and will provide an update with the result (ie rack works or doesn’t). If it doesn’t work, I’ll swap the lines on the second one and try it (after cursing up a storm as this has been more of a PITA than when I pulled the heads off the engine block)

Those hard lines provide a supply and return path for the power steering fluid. I convinced myself :rolleyes: that it doesn’t matter which one goes where as the flow direction changes based on the direction the steering wheel is turned and the mechanical operation of the gears/linkage.
Got the rack installed and everything in the engine bay put back together so I could start her up. Rack seems to work with the lines reversed. Still need to get the ballpoints and outer tie rod ends installed on the knuckles before I can truly test it out and take it for a ride. Hopefully get this all done tomorrow.
Any chance you wrote anything up or took pictures of removing/replacing the steering rack?
Oh man, not really. It was time consuming.

I’ll try to summarize:

1) Jack front end up and safely support it. I used jackstands up front and left back wheels on the ground. Probably smart to disconnect the battery too.

2) Drain radiator.

3) While it’s draining, remove front wheels.

4) Disconnect transmission fluid lines at bottom of radiator and let the trans cooler drain.

5) Remove radiator hoses from engine. You’ll need pliers to squeeze and slide the metal tension clips over the lip on the tube fitting of the engine.

6) Remove the upper and lower fan guards from the radiator assembly

7) Remove the two upper radiator mounts (two bolts per side 12mm socket)

8) Remove radiator (Should just pull straight up and out) and set aside

9) Remove the fan from the clutch assembly (4 nuts and you’ll need a 10mm wrench for this job. A gearwrench works great for this). You will need to take tension off of the belt so you can spin the fan to get to all of the nuts.

10) Remove the serpentine belt

Now at this point you should have some room in the engine bay and be able to see the rack and the power steering lines. But, you’re not done taking stuff out yet. This part’s a little fuzzy, but you’ll need to drain and remove the power steering reservoir, power steering lines, and power steering pump.

11) Drain power steering fluid.

12) Remove the power steering reservoir. Disconnect the two hoses/lines toward the bottom of the reservoir.

13) Remove power steering lines from the rack. Also, there are two bolts for clamps on one of the lines and one bolt on the other. Removed the bolts.

14) Remove the power steering pump and it’s bracket. Two bolts which are accessed through the holes in the pulley and one on the back side for the pump. I think 3 bolts for the bracket. (Note they may be different lengths so keep track of them). Also, there is an electrical wire the needs removed from the pump.

At this point, you should have an even better view of the steering rack. I took one more thing off of the engine which I don’t know is necessary and that was the AC compressor. This thing is held in place by 4 bolts 2 on top, 2 on bottom. DO NOT disconnect the lines going to the compressor. You can swing this thing out of the way with the lines connected.

Now you’re ready to remove the rack.

15) disconnect the tie rod ends from the knuckles. Remove the castle nut and cotter pin and push the stud out of the knuckle on both sides. I used a tool from a kit I bought at harbor freight to help with this step.

Again, I did new tie rod ends, new upper and lower ball joints and the ADD coil springs with bilstein shocks so I had the knuckle completely removed, but it’s probably not necessary for just a rack replacement.

16) Remove the bolt in the steering linkage that’s connected to the spline shaft of the rack.

17) Remove the 4 bolts that mount the rack to the unibody.

Now the rack should be free. You may need to get creative on disconnecting the steering linkage from the rack as mine was strongly bonded via rust. Take a break as the next step requires some magic to get the rack out. I think we (probably need a helper) took the rack to the right as far as we could until we could drop the left side of the rack down in the center of the truck.

Have a beer and call it a day. Reassemble in the reverse order.

One important note:
Make sure you center the rack and your steering wheel before connecting the steering linkage. I had to redo this as I assumed that the rack came in the centered position from the vendor which it didn’t.