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RX400h steering wheel play

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My 98,000 mile 2007 RX400h SE-L has a small amount of steering wheel play which I would like to reduce or eliminate if possible.

No MOT advisories have ever been received regarding this play, but I experience the need to make frequent small straight ahead steering corrections according to road surface conditions and camber  etc.  I had 4 wheel alignment done recently together with new front tyres which made no difference. My understanding is that the Lexus steering column has at least three universal joints plus a sliding joint so play could result from wear in one or all of these parts.

Has anyone had experience of this problem and it’s resolution or is it just a Lexus characteristic to learn to live with?



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Usually the play in most rack and pinions is in the pinion gear. In some models this can be eliminated by using a washer of a suitable thickness so the gap between the teeth is reduced. If there is wear on the rack gear, usually at the centre,  the amount of play you can reduce will be decided by the specified turning torque on the pinion shaft. Make sure the pinion shaft if free when it engages at either end of the rack gear.

If the play is in the universal joints, simply replace the faulty one.

However, if the stearing play is small and the car cannot drive straight ahead on a flat level surface, you should scrutinise the suspension components with the car on a lift. Use a small crow bar on the rubber bushing members to see how good they are. Usually worn suspension parts are on the passenger side. Check shock absorbers, stabiliser bar bushings and ball joints.

Make certain the steering geometry is correct and it should only be done when all the suspension is in good order.


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  • 1 month later...

My inspections of the steering system has indeed shown that the play I observe is at the rack pinion.

There are many videos available on how to adjust the preload plunger on various Toyota model steering racks which simply??? involves loosening off a large lock nut allowing the preload spring tension to be adjusted (trial and error) by screwing the threaded adjuster in or out. The aim is to adjust the preload to eliminate play without making the steering excessively stiff. Steering wheel torque settings are specified in the workshop manual.

No information found on a similar adjustment on the RX and I think I know why after inspecting my RX.  Basically the rack preload adjuster faces downwards / rearwards where access is made virtually impossible by the close proximity of the anti-roll bar and a subframe cross member. Toyota adjusters face upwards and forwards on the examples I’ve seen making access fairly straightforward.

I conclude that the only way I can adjust my RX steering rack would be to take it off the car and adjust it on the bench!!

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