'96 Saturn SL1 Rack and pinion assembly/slow acceleration question

I've been told recently by two seperate mechanics that my rack and pinion assembly needs immediate attention. I drive a '96 Saturn SL1
with 111k miles. However, I notice no difference in the steering at all. I notice no strang noises when I steer or anything like that. I want to know if neglecting a "bad" rack and pinion assembly can really damage my car? I really don't want to replace something for roughly $1000 if I can't notice a difference.
I have noticed some things with my car though and I wonder if the rack and pinion assembly is affecting it in any way (which I seriously doubt.) My Service Engine Soon light is on constantly (unfortunately when I arrived both times at the mechanics, it decided to turn off) and sometimes it runs very sluggish. It got to a point one day where if I pushed the pedal all the way down, the car would not go above 3500 RPM. I highly doubt that has anything to do with the rack and pinion, but is it possible? I change my oil regularly.
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The service engine soon light is likely an EGR valve that needs replacing if this has not yet been done. It also could be that it needs new spark plugs or spark plug wires too since you do not say when these were last replaced. The rack problem would not cause any engine issues.
Take the car to AutoZone and they will scan the computer and tell you the error code which will point you in the right direction. The EGR is about a $100 part and takes about 20 minutes to install. Plugs and wires are about $40-$50 max and should take less than 15 minutes too. Just make sure you gap the plugs correctly since 1996 gave erroneous info on the decal under the hood. Also run the wires exactly like the originals were routed and do one at a time so you do not mix them up.
I'd also recommend changing the PCV valve too if this has never been done since it may reduce oil consumption and help prevent another EGR failure if that is the issue here.
Good luck!
Bob

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