Steering rack assesment of condition early series 1

I just had the compulsary technical test (MOT) and on the way to the test some problems arose with the front suspension. The steering became quite vague in the center position and the car kind of wandering a bit. When driving over a rough service there was a clangy sound. At the test the car failed due to ‘excessive play in the rack’ and ‘worn rack bushes’. So I removed the steering rack from the car today, something that went suprisingly smooth and easy. Looking at the rack on the workbench, everything is in great condition: no power fluid leaks, and the rack gear looks pristine. I tightened the rack pad according to the workshop manual (tighten the adjustment nut until firm resistance is met, than untighten one flat). I dont think that was the cause of the noise. Removing the rubber gaitor at the left side, I looked at the inner tie rod. I do not see any scoring or damage on the ball, but it is quite loose. On the right hand side, when I move the inner tie rod, there is a small clicking sound. So I have three questions:

  1. How do I know if the inner tie rods need to be replaced?
  2. Can they be adjusted if they have ‘play’?
  3. Where to get new ones?; they seem to be rare as hens teeth

The rack is a POW-A-RAK, HBO2641, the car is a xj6 4.2 manual 1969.

On another note, my car is an unrestored, original, but in very good condition, car, and if somebody is restoring an early xj6, I will happy post pictures on request for the purpose of illustrating how things are suppose to look from an orginality point of view.

Welcome, Antonie. I suspect that your major problem (as confirmed by the MOT guy) is the rack mounting bushings. There are 3 of them. More on replacing them below.

The inner tie rod ends are ball joints, with the ball integral with the tie rod. To tell if they are worn (uncommon), see if they have any demonstrable play. Ideally, the tie rod should stay where you put it as you rotate the ball up, down and side to side. If not, it should fall down with some resistance. On early racks I do believe they can be adjusted with shims if necessary. Later racks have teflon inserts.

I’ll bet that your major problem is the mounting bushings–extremely common. Have a look in the archives; many owners replace them with aftermarket polyurethane bushings which last longer. If your bushings are original, they are difficult to remove due to the press fit of their internal metal sleeve. Often, a hydraulic press is needed. Or, you can make a device from a bolt and cylindrical bits of the proper diameter (like sockets). Such a device can be bought from John’s Cars in Dallas, USA. They also sell the polyurethane bushings, as do other vendors. Once the latter are fit, renewal is easy.

Good luck. Hopefully others will comment as well.

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Thanks, Robert, I had a hard time to accept that these inner tie rods can cause this kind of ‘noise’ and problems. I’ll have a go at shimming them first. I will replace the bushes with polyurethane ones, and as you said, i already found out that they are challenging to take out. I will have to make some gizmo to do this. I am glad i took the rack out, because removing these bushes from under the car I think will be very hard to do.

Removal of the original Jaguar OEM steering rack bushings is made much easier with the bushing removal tool from John’s Cars in Texas, USA as already mentioned by Robert. I suppose that other methods are possible but I prefer not to “reinvent the wheel” when someone has already developed an excellent tool at an affordable price. I have used my John’s Cars bushing removal tool several times on our five Jaguars as I replaced the OEM bushings and replaced them with aftermarket polyurethane bushings. On some of those cars we experienced the same type of steering problems that you describe, on others I replaced the bushings when I removed and replaced leaky power steering racks.


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Thanks for your concern. I agree, best to do things the proven way, and luckily I found a local part supplier that rents out a similar tool purposely made for the job. By the way, it is a long way to Texas from here. I guess it is not obvious that I live in Norway. I’ll update my profile

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This is the easier way and the poly bushings with the top hat shape are good.
In-car it takes about an hour, outside probably less.

This is an international list with members from around the world so unless a poster includes their location in their post or in their profile the rest of us have no idea where in the world they are located.


Welcome on board, Antoine!

The rack bushing may fail from one minute to the next. The first step is to change the bushes. The inner balljoints, if worn, should be replaced - shimming is a bit iffy.

The inner ball joint wear is probably the cause for the MOT remark ‘excessive play in the rack’ - the rack innards is likely OK.

However, the rack pad both increase rack friction to reduce kick-back - and take up wear/play in rack/pinion connection. It is important, after adjustment, to verify that there is no binding when turning rack lock to lock…

The clangy sound over rough roads is unlikely to relate to the rack problem - have you checked the anti-roll bar bushes…?

xj6 85 Sov Europe (UK/NZ)

Antonie, as your XJ is a unrestored `69 check the front suspension top wishbone
bearings, these are prone to considerable wear. Do not check with the wheels in “droop”
position, place a small trolley jack under the bottom wishbone, then with the load off
the tyre shake the top of the wheel.
Peter B.