Had a small steering leak, and decided to replace it.
Grabbed one from an auto-recycler for 150 CAD delivered.
It was still bolted to a 2014 Xterra with 1K kms on it (I couldn't believe it)
What a chore to do this in my garage though...
Lessons learned #1: don't try to be smarter than everyone else.
I tried to think that I could remove it with the least amount of work possible. Turns out, this was a mistake.
Best practice is to remove the tires, shocks, caliper, and upper ball joint nut. Using a ratchet strap to support the front final driver is a good idea. It's not that heavy, but, with limited space in my garage, it's an unbalanced load to handle easily. If you don't take the drive shafts out, it a heavy piece.
Lesson Learned #3: Compact tools are fantastic for working on the car from underneath.
I had an M12 kit, and decided to purchase the M12 1/2" compact impact. For it's size, you can do most bolts under 19mm. I was able to zip off the member bolts and the steering rack using an M12. It struggled a bit, but it did get the job done. Just to think of the power these things have in small packages is amazing.
In any case, I can say with confidence that I could do this job reasonably in two days.
One for removal
One for replacement.
Lesson learned #3: if you are going to replace the high pressure portion of the steering hose, purchase the one piece redesign from Rockauto (Gates). It simplifies the reinstall and you don't have to fight with small angles trying to get the hard piped portion to line up with the existing rubber high pressure hose. I assumed that I would not be able to remove the old threaded piping from the old steering rack, so I had ordered that piece from RockAuto beforehand.
Lesson Learned #4. new crush washers are a must for front final drive - oil refill.
I thought I could get away with reusing the crush washers on the front differential when refilling it. Nope. These washers are not copper. They are aluminum. One use only. Lucky for me, my local CarQuest had them in stock and I wasn't stuck. (I'm so used to reusing copper washers, I never thought that the differentials would be a different metal).
Lesson Learned #5. Look for other problems and convince yourself that to fix it, is the best action if you have the time, space, and the budget.
Once you have everything taken apart. Look for other "stuff".
I found that my front driver's caliper was seizing. I tried cleaning it, and could not get it to slide smoothly. I decided to purchase a reman one from CarQuest. First one - DID NOT FIT. Second one, perfect. I then decided to bleed all my brakes with the one man method afterwards.
Lesson Learned #6 Fluids
Whatever fluids you need, buy some extra. You don't want to be short. Mistakes can happen, a leak can occur, and you don't want to be stuck. I don't consider myself to be a professional mechanic, and I always lose something in the process. An extra quart, that you can return to the store later, is no bigga deal.
Also, don't assume the supplier you get certain fluids from, will have it in stock. I could not find Valvoline MaxLife ATF easily. It was a special order due to supply chains. I always tend to use the same manufacturer for fluids where possible. I know there should be no issues between brands, but I was not prepared to deal with it. In the end, no choice, I went with Castrol MV.
All bolted up, proud that I was able to do this. And even prouder that I found new swear words to use through the whole process.
Lesson Learned #7. Forums, videos, online help, and manuals...they all help.
Thanks to this forum for all the information within it. It makes this all possible.