2001 Escort Steering Rack Knocking.

Fixed the shiftlock solenoid for this vehicle but noted another problem with her car. With the engine running the steering wheel has a very noticeable
knock when rocked back and forth 1/8-1/4 turn. Not only is it heard but is also felt (such as a very strong detent). The detent feeling is strong enough that I have safety concerns of either steering lock-up or breakage if allowed to go too much longer unchecked. With the engine off there is still a slight knock but no detent feeling.
Checking from outside the vehicle the knock is most noticable when touching the tierods (tierod ends check ok) and steering shaft so it is definitely within the rack. The vehicle has just over 80k miles and the P/S fluid looks to be a med-dark grey (possible rack or pump wear). What I'm hoping to find out is if this is a common problem and might there be an outside chance it's as easy as an on-car "lash" type adjustment? Any info would be greatly appreciated.
As usual, just because it's beginning to get cold here the problems start a commin'. :-(
Thanks, Ej
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