Steering Rack Boots

BAT, Rapido, Lou Fusz and FLM still sell the steering rack boots. Cost is anywhere between $18 and $25. They come one to a pack, and come with a new pipe clamp and a new plastic-type clamp (for the small end). All you need beyond this is grease. Since the tie rod ends are being removed, now is a good time to replace them.

Ford Lincoln Mercury dealer: part number E5RY-3332-B

Jack up the front end. Use jack stands for security. Carefully note the number of threads between the inside end of the tie rod and the nut that secures the tie-rod end (it was exactly eight threads on mine, on both sides).

Remove the cotter key from the nut that secures the tie rod end to the spindle. Throw away the cotter key; always use new cotter keys. Stainless steel ones are best by far. Before removing the nut that secures the ball joint/tie rod end to the spindle, use an open-end wrench (3/4 inch? or metric equivalent; i forget exact size) to loosen the nut on the tie rod that secures the tie rod end. Then remove the ball-joint nut (this should come off easily; I think it's a 17mm. Using a block of wood to cushion the blow, lightly --LIGHTLY -- tap the ball-joint bolt to drive it out of the spindle. Do not damage the rubber boot on the ball joint.

Unscrew the tie-rod end. Unscrew the nut that secured the tie-rod end. You might have to pry off the pipe clamp (depending on what kind it is) or simply unscrew it. Remove the old boot.

Clean everything thoroughly, most especially if the boot had been cracked. You might find sand, grit, grunge inside the moveable parts of the rack and the tie-rod. Regrease thoroughly.

Now comes the hard part: I used silicone spray to lubricate the inside of the small end of the new rubber boot. And sprayed some quite liberally on the end of the tie rod. It's going to be a tight fit. I found that by "screwing" the boot over the threads of the tie rod that the new boot went on a lot easier (you have to grasp the tie rod pretty firmly to keep it from rotating; vise grips helped here.

Once the new boot is on completely, secure it with the new pipe clamp (large end) and the small plastic clamp (small end). Reassemble in reverse order; remember to locate the tie-rod end exactly where it had been. You still mightbe advised to get the front end aligned after this operation; I'm going to (ofcourse, mine need realigning anyhow).

This job took me 30 minutes per side; most of that time spent in wrestling the new boot into position. Good luck.