So, I had another suspension inspection today. The one last year called for both lower ball joints and both inner tie rods. The car has not been driven much since then as I had it garaged while working on other projects (and awaiting the motivation) so there has not been much chance for additional wear on any components.
Today's' inspection calls for lower AND upper ball joints and NO tie rods. He specifically told me the tie rods are in very good shape. The kicker is that he is calling for a new steering rack. He demonstrated that there is play in the steering wheel. Jiggling the wheel left and right a bit produced no hint or feel of movement at all on the front wheels. (the car was sitting up on a drive-on lift if that matters) He explains that the gear inside the rack is worn and no longer makes good contact resulting in sloppy steering and contributing to the wheels following road grooves and uneven pavement. He also said the rear suspension was solid. No problems.
I've got a buddy that has offered his Fiero experience to help replace the ball joints and tie rods (thanks Eric!), but I'm at a bit of a loss to know what to do here. The inspection last year was at a highly respected and reviewed shop that often deals with classics and modifieds. The inspection today was a flat $30 job done at a local Midas shop, but the guy was really thorough and walked me around under the car pointing out and demonstrating the various issues. He also understands that I will be doing the work and providing the parts myself.
I am tending towards the opinion of Midas guy, but unfortunately I am discovering there is no rebuild procedure for the steering rack as the parts are just not available. This is a 1988 and I understand it's a one-year-only assembly. I haven't been able to source a rack from Rodney or the Fiero Store (the parts search function on both sites is pathetic) or anywhere else.
I suppose a used rack is a possibility but any complete rack, new or used, is probably going to be costly. And a used one may be no better than what I have now. I guess we could just do the ball joints and tie rods and hope for the best.
Anyone have any opinions, insights or sources that might help me out?
Edited to add...
I also had the Midas guy specifically check the steering rack bushing that Rodney's site says is a very likely culprit in cases like these but that didn't seem to be the problem in this case.
[This message has been edited by Rsvl-Rider (edited 10-27-2017).]