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Steering rack boots


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10 replies to this topic

#1 Mikevan10

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Posted 10 September 2009 - 10:56 AM

While doing my pre-inspection inspection on my wife's 1997 Legacy wagon I noticed that the boots (actually gaitors) on both ends of the steering rack are torn. I can also detect a small amount of "slop" in the ball joint at that end of the tie rods. I do not notice any wandering of the car as I go down a straight road nor does the steering wheel shimmy or shake. So I am planning on only replacing the rubber boots. Anyone have any comments on this? Anyone ever done the job?

Thanks,

Mike V.

#2 grossgary

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Posted 10 September 2009 - 11:04 AM

Yeah, I've done quite a few. They're actually fairly easy. The Beck Arnleys at the auto parts stores seem really high quality, but chances are you're never doing them again so probably doesn't much matter.

The hardest part is just having good tools and dealing with rust. The outer tie rod is typically a tricky one to remove. Just have a bunch of good metric wrenches available and interlock them (do you know that trick?) to get some leverage.

Also - be sure to mark the position of the outer tie rod end and count how many times it unthreads from the inner tie rod. It maintains your alignment so you want to install it in exactly the same position. Usually this step is very easy because the shaft that's covered by the tie rod is nice and clean and the rest is obviously rusted/exposed, etc. And the tigthening nut may even stay in place depending how you do it. If any of that sounds confusing, don't worry it's not once you see it.

I've actually replaced tie rods before without even jacking the car up and removing the tire so "technically" this is probably doable without even removing the wheel. But I don't recommend it at all, just an example of how simple it is.

As for play - the joints do have some play naturally, depending which direction you're talking about, they do "wobble" just based on design. But if it's actual play in a direction that's not normal they definitely need replaced. Tie rods are about one of the most dangerous safety components on the car. Loose one of those and you're in for a world of hurt. Not trying to scare you, but there's hardly a part more dangerous - except maybe install a wheel!

#3 cagranitz

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Posted 10 September 2009 - 11:27 AM

I just did this job on my 2000 and 2001 OBW. Used the Beck Arnley boots from thepartsbin.com.

I found the new boots a little difficult to get started on the threaded end of the tie rod. They didn't slide very easily after that either. The new rubber is obviously very snug. It was also a bit of a pain to get the large end of the boot on the drivers side onto the steering rack itself. There was very little room to get my fingers in there to get the boot on.

grossgary covered everything else. Overall not a bad job.

#4 grossgary

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Posted 10 September 2009 - 12:16 PM

yes to all that he said, they are really tight fitting, just keep going at it and it'll eventually go.

#5 EVOthis

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Posted 10 September 2009 - 06:46 PM

Yes. I've replaced dozens of them..;) Make absolute sure that the inner tie rods are ok before you go replacing the boot..When it comes to PA state inspection they will fail you for a bad tie rod, and the last thing you want to do is remove the new boot and replace the tie rod not far down the road.Where are you located in the Lehigh Valley? How many miles are on this vehicle?

#6 Fairtax4me

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Posted 10 September 2009 - 10:40 PM

Just did one of these on mine. It had been split for a long time and the inner tie rod end was completely shot. No grease on it anymore at all. I got a Raybestos boot, and it was a very tight fit. Use silicone spray to lubricate the rubber and it will side on easier.

#7 Mikevan10

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Posted 11 September 2009 - 10:11 AM

Thanks for the comments guys!

Just going from memory, and not having really examined things closely, I did not think the tie rods would have been readily replaceable. I would have thought they ere only supplied as part of an entire steering rack assembly. Not so? (I know I'me being lazy and not doing my own research).

As for my location, I live in Danielsville, right up against Blue Mountain. I work in Bethlehem.

The car has about 212,000 miles on it.

Mike V.

#8 grossgary

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Posted 11 September 2009 - 11:07 AM

the tie rods are easily replaceable. inner and outer both unthread easily, its just one more step and a couple minutes more than doing the boot.

#9 Fairtax4me

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Posted 11 September 2009 - 11:20 AM

They're not difficult at all but you'll need a pretty big crescent wrench to get the inner off of the steering rack. I think about 1 1/4" was the one I used, although its probably supposed to be a metric size.

#10 Mikevan10

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Posted 11 September 2009 - 01:12 PM

OK, I just took a look at the factory service manual and it looks like what I would be replacing is actually the tie rod itself. There is only a tie rod end, per say, on the outer end. The tie rod includes a ball joint that screws into the steering rack itself. Right?

The FSM also indicates that you use a special tool to remove the tie rod from the rack. Apparantly this is not necessary?

Mike V.

#11 Fairtax4me

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Posted 11 September 2009 - 05:01 PM

Yes, it's the actual Tie rod, but most parts places list it as the inner tie rod end.
I've never used any special tools to remove tie rods before. They're not supposed to be on very tight. It has a jam washer that has a couple tabs sticking off of the side towards the rack, and the outer edge is punched into a recess in the tie rod so it won't twist loose under normal operating circumstances. You give it a good turn with the wrench and the tabs will sheer off. Then it comes off easy as pie. The new rod should have a new washer that you punch/hammer on when the rod is installed.




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