The responsiveness of the Ford Rack and Pinion system is one of the reasons vehicles equipped with this type of steering system are so maneuverable. The rack and pinion is the mechanical devices in the power steering system of Ford vehicles that makes it possible for the front wheels to move with such precision that operators love to drive vehicles equipped with them.
The Ford rack and pinion operates in a very simplistic manner. The rack is simply a horizontal piece of metal with grooves machined into it. The pinion is a shaft of metal with groves machined into it in the shape of a screw. When the pinion is turned by the input from the Ford driver, it moves the rack which is connected to the spindles in the front wheel assemblies. This simplistic approach used by the rack and pinion for controlling the direction of the front wheels is why it is so responsive.
Damage to the rack and pinion on your Ford generally only occurs when the front wheels hit a blunt object with extreme force. This can cause breaks in the groves in either the rack or the pinion impairing its ability to smoothly turn the front wheels. In extreme cases, the steering of the vehicle will become locked up because the grooves become stuck in place, forbidding the turning of the front wheel assemblies. This is an undesirable situation for any driver to be in when maneuvering a vehicle.
The replacement of the rack and pinion assembly is possible to do in a home garage. Because of the size and weight of these steering components, it is advisable to have an assistant present so they can help hold some of the weight when it is lifted and put into place.