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Jaguar XKE E-type Restoration: Rebuilding the Power Steering Rack 9 – Cleaning, polishing the rack and reassembly

It is really important to clean as absolutely clean as possible all of the power steering components, particularly the tube, rack and ends with the seals.  Any dirt can cause friction and wear on the rubber seals and premature wear. One reason the passenger side seal goes fast is that it is right on the outside end of the tube near the tie rod. Any dirt or sand that gets past the rubber gaiter and onto that steering shaft can cause wear and seal failure. That is why it is CRITICAL to have the gaiters in good shape and sealed tightly at both ends.

If there is any roughness on the rack where it passes through seals it will also cause wear of the seals. It is not a bad idea to very gently polish the rack with SUPER fine sanding paper or a polish.  If you see there is corrosion and pitting on the rack – you need a new one.

Start of polishing the rack.

You also need to make sure the seals on the rack tube are in the correct orientation. They are concave on one side and the concave  sides of the O-ring seals should face inwards to the rack. If you put them in backwards they will not work.

I also found that in the seal kit I bought the large o-ring that seals the coupling between the two halves of the tube was flat and not as deep as the o-ring seal I removed. Sure enough, it did not work and had to be replaced with a proper seal.  Take a look at the pictures below. I found the large o-ring that was rounded and thick worked, while the thinner flat one did not.  I got the correct one from Coventry West – Much thanks Dick!

Two seals – the flat one did not work on sealing this rack.

Rubber O-ring seal between two halves of the steering rack tube.

A final point is to be super careful inserting the seals into the groves and then running the rack through them. The serrated edges on the driver side of the rack can rip the delicate rubber seals and you can have immediate failure once you put the fluid under pressure. Take your time, be super careful and use lots of rubber friendly lubricant to make sure that friction is at a minimum.  This is important on the large o-ring seal between the tube halves and also super important when re-inserting steel sleeve that holds the seal in the driver side of the tube. It has to be pushed a long way down the tube, and you have to make sure that at the end it lines up with the hose coupling that screws in and holds it in place. Having the tube and sleeve lubricated protects the two seals from friction and makes it easier to slightly adjust the sleeve so you can screw in the coupling.

Seal holding sleeve lubricated and test fit to lubricated polished rack and ready for installation.

4 comments on “Jaguar XKE E-type Restoration: Rebuilding the Power Steering Rack 9 – Cleaning, polishing the rack and reassembly

  1. Tahiti Joe says:

    Your posts have been immensely helpful, so I want to thank you for this.

    I had the exact same problem with the square seal in the kit for the passenger side housing. It’s pretty much the WRONG one. The major reason being the cylinder hits it square so it doesn’t push it back in the groove. The round seal is the only way to go.

    I recommend anyone attempting a rebuild of the power steering rack on an E-Type 2+2 read through this as the repair manuals are seriously lacking on how to do this.

    Thanks again

    Tahiti Joe


  2. gmmacdonald says:

    Thanks Joe – you are very kind! I am not surprised others have had issues with the squared-off large O-ring on their power steering racks. Coventry West has the correct rounded one and it works like a charm.

    I tried to put some extra detail in the power steering blogs because as you know – it is hard to find a good reference. As I mentioned there is already and absolutely wonderful online site regarding rebuilding the Series III rack – but there are important differences between the Series II and Series III racks. So, I tried my best to be helpful.

    Good luck with your Jag!


  3. Denis says:

    I have repaired the rack. However, I now can not get the power steering unit to fit back into the rack. The end of the gear shaft will not seat into the housing. The end of the gear shaft should seat into the needle bearing housing. However, it will not go in. Have you had this problem?


    1. gmmacdonald says:

      Hi Dennis –

      I am not 100% sure what you mean by the “power steering unit”??? So forgive me if I have this wrong. The power steering is made up of four parts – the rack (which actually houses the toothed rack), the tower with the pinion that moves the toothed rack gear, the pump which is driven by a belt and pressurizes the steering fluid and the fluid reservoir. I am guessing you cannot get the pinion to slide into the rack and mesh with it so you can tighten the tower onto the rack? Be careful here so you do not break teeth of damage the pinion and rack. It may be as simple as giving the pinion a slight turn so that it meshes with the teeth on the rack – have you tried that?

      However, maybe I have this wrong? Did you remove the pinion shaft from the tower? Aside from the outer seals the power pinion tower is pretty tricky to rebuild properly – my advice is to talk to Dick Maury at Coventry West. Issues with the pinion shaft and seals etc. in the power steering units can be very tricky and touchy in terms of steering performance.

      Good luck – and sorry if I was not much help,



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