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Volvo: Err on the side of replacing steering racks after collision

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Volvo has warned collision repairers in a position statement to replace a vehicle’s steering rack “if there is any doubt” to its condition or if parts including the front axle are damaged.

It seems likely that a shop would have doubts given what Volvo described as the uncheckable nature of the steering rack’s interior.

“A hard shock to a front axle, suspension system or steering linkage can potentially cause damage that is not externally visible on the rack,” Volvo wrote in one of what appear to be a few new position statements. “Specific pressure tests are required to make sure seals are not leaking and that the internal gearing has not been affected. Tests of these types cannot be performed at a repair facility level. The steering rack must be replaced when tests cannot be performed or if there is any doubt.”

The OEM wrote that the rack certainly “must be replaced if any components of the front axle, steering gear, or any part of the steering linkage are deformed or damaged.”

Shops are also instructed to inspect the steering rack anytime “areas surrounding the steering rack are damaged in an accident. … This is required to ensure steering components are not damaged. In cases of damage or doubt, the steering rack must be replaced.”

Volvo encouraged shops to get in writing any attempt by an insurer or appraiser to just reuse a questionable or compromised steering rack.

“If the repair facility determines that a steering rack replacement is required per Volvo guidelines, and the service is declined keeping the original steering rack in the vehicle, we recommended reviewing this document with, and getting the signature of, the appraiser or deciding insurance company representative,” Volvo wrote.

“… All Volvo Cars drivetrain, suspension and steering components are essential to safe control of the vehicle. These parts are designed to work with other vehicle components to keep occupants safe in an accident and manufactured to exact specifications.”

Mercedes offers similar guidance for handling naysayers in its steering position statement. BMW goes a step farther, providing repairers with an example of a memo it says any objecting BMW or MINI customer or insurer must sign.

Volvo also said a “four-wheel alignment” was necessary after “any work performed to the suspension systems” so the car is guaranteed “safety, performance and autonomous calibration.” (The “autonomous” reference might be just a reference to advanced driver assistance systems, though Volvo is also studying higher-level autonomy in the Swedish Drive Me pilot.)

Volvo’s U.S. sales rose 20.6 percent to 98,263 models in 2018.

More information:

Volvo’s “Statement on Steering Racks”

Volvo position statements

Volvo repair procedures


A 2019 Volvo V60 all-wheel drive Momentum model is shown. (Provided by Volvo)

A 2019 Volvo V60 all-wheel drive Inscription model is shown. (Provided by Volvo)

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