What to Look For When Buying Steering Rack Boots
Dirt, rocks, mud, and sand: you wouldn't want any of these to mess with a part as delicate as a car's steering rack. That's why the rack is encased in a boot to protect it from debris that might tamper the steering mechanism. Since the boot takes most of the damage instead of the rack's delicate parts, it will need replacement soon to ensure that the rack is protected properly. Here are some things to look out for when picking new steering rack boots for your car.
The right fit
Steering rack boots are like boots to feet: they are different for each and every user. Take not of the following to get the right boot to buy.
- Size: Not all OE replacement boots are made identical. Cars and trucks have different track width measures. Know the size of your car's steering rack to know the appropriate boot size to fit to it. There are "universal" boot options, but we suggest you get a boot designed for your specific car.
- Power steering: The rack of a car with power steering also differs from a car without it. Manufacturers offer a special variety of boots for those cars as well. Knowing if your car has one will immediately filter your options in half.
A complete kit
- Security: Boots don't just slip on the steering rack and stay put. They are also clipped on, using either zip ties, or clamps, to ensure they are tight and secure. Manufacturers should make life and replacement easy for you by providing compatible clips with the kit you will purchase. If it is a standalone boot, you are better off looking for another brand.
- Sleeve: While a boot is a simple remove and replacement job, one of the tedious parts in the process is keeping the wheel alignment correct after installation. Improperly return the nut on the steering rod ball joint and you'll get a car that veers to the side. Some kits include a sleeve that you put over the ball joint for the boot to pass over. The sleeve does away with correctly returning nuts and realigning the wheels. This is a great helper for novice mechanics.
In summary, pick a kit that fits your car and includes enough parts to make the installation smooth and easy for you.
Installing Steering Rack Boots the Easy Way
Steering rack boots protect your car's steering systems from being soiled by dirt on the road. They take the damage from rocks, mud, and other elements instead of the sensitive parts for your steering. Overtime, these boots may crack, leak, and tear making them unsuitable guards. These should be replaced at once to prevent risking your steering.
Difficulty level: Moderate
- Floor jack
- Jack stand
- Wrench set
- Side cutters
- Bearing grease
- Replacement boots
Step 1: Turn off the engine. Raise your car using a floor jack and secure the chassis with jack stands.
Step 2: Remove the front tire of the side you will be working on.
Step 3: Look for the tie end nut. Take note of the nut's positioning by counting the number of threads exposed. It is important to get an accurate count to ensure the correct wheel alignment of your car after boot replacement. Remove the nut after noting the thread count. Remove the split pin if the end has one too.
Step 4: Take out the ball joint to disconnect the steering rod from the wheel. If it is on too tight, slightly hit the ball joint's housing to loosen. Remove any remaining nuts and bolts to free the ball joint. Clean these after.
Step 5: Remove the broken steering rack boot. First, take out the small air tube. Cut off the clips holding the boot in place. Your replacement boots should have a new set of clips to install later. Pull out the old boot. Carefully clean the rack and housing.
Step 6: Rub enough bearing grease on the tie rod and steering rack. You can also pour some inside the new steering boot. Insert a cable tie inside the new steering boot. Slide the boot on the tie rod and secure with the cable tie. Reinstall the air tube.
Step 7: Return the steering rod and ball joint back into position. Remember the thread count noted earlier? Screw the nuts on the tie rod and tighten until you get reach the correct thread count. Return any other pins and screws to finish the job.
Step 8: Repeat the same procedure for the other side. Start the engine and turn the steering wheel to test. Take a short drive to check if the wheels are properly aligned.
The whole repair will take around 45 minutes.