Steering Rack Boot for different automobiles
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Your Steering Rack Boot worn out? » Read more about common malfunctions • Repair • Replacement manual
Protecting the steering linkage: the steering boot
The steering boot is a rubber bellows on the tie rod protecting the ball joint that enables the axial movements of the wheel. Its replacement is relatively easy and can be DIY executed at home. In order to prevent additional costs, great care is required especially when disassembling the tie rod.
Strain of the steering mechanism
The steering mechanism turns the wheel according to the swivel point indicated by the shock absorbers. Simultaneously the pitch, i.e. the jounce and rebound during driving must be compensated for. No matter how deep the wheel is jouncing, the steering performance of the car must always be guaranteed. The component responsible for transmitting the steering power as well as the necessary flexibility is the ball joint, consisting of linking rods with on one end a cup-like recess containing a spheric element. They are fused at construction and cannot be separated. The steering boot envelops the ball joint. This joint has permanent lubrication which must be kept free from dust in order to prevent a reversion of its effect: instead of keeping the joint flexible, a polluted lubrication turns into a grinding paste damaging the joint. As long as the steering boot is tight and undamaged, nothing can happen. Once it is damaged, quick action is necessary before the ball joint is up for replacement.
Steering boot defects
Two types of influence are detrimental to the steering boot:
- contact with a sharp-edged object
- embrittlement due to age.
Consequently, this is a wear component with a limited life span. Its longevity is hard to determine. A car which is regularly driven on a gravel track and on salted roads in winter speeds up the wear of the component. If, on the other hand, it is a garage-sheltered car which is constantly kept dry and clean, the steering boot is bound to keep a long period of time. A useful tip is therefore to quickly check the steering boot on occasion of removal of the wheel or maintenance works underneath the car. Even if no leakage of grease is observed, it should be checked thoroughly. To do so, the bellows is manually compressed conversely to the axle. If no slit opens or no porous spots appear, the steering boot is still fit for use. In case of even the smallest damage the steering boots should be replaced pairwise. Steering boot repair A steering boot is not repaired, but always replaced. The advantage of this component is the fact that its size is of minor importance. There is nothing against installation of a universal steering boot which can help to reduce costs. To replace the steering boot, the car is jacked up and the front wheels removed. The tie rod end is detached from the wheel at the base plate and the entire unit folded sideways. Subsequently, the lock nut of the tie rod is unscrewed. Now it is important to proceed carefully and proactively: counting and making a note of the rotations when unscrewing the tie rod will spare you the toe realignment afterwards. Be certain to count exactly to the half turn. Once the tie rod is removed, the steering boot is simply loosened and removed as well. When installing the new steering boot, the clamp at the back could cause problems. Side-cutting pliers are the most suitable tool to close the wayward clamp. Prior to installation of the steering boot, the joint should be thoroughly greased. Usually a tube of lubricant is included in the purchase of a steering boot. It should be completely used up. The installation of the tie rod requires the notes from its disassembly. If you stick exactly to the number of turns, toe realignment should not be necessary on condition that the track was correct in the first place. When the car rolls straight ahead when taking the hands from the wheel and tyres do not show any uneven wear, the track should be o.k. In case of uncertainty, you should invest 60 EUR (± £53) in alignment.
Steering boot costs
Prices for a universal steering boot start at 4 EUR (± £3.55). A model-specific boot costs ca. 10 EUR (± £9). Its replacement on both sides can be done in ca. 2 hours' work.