Changing Steering Rack Gaiters

One item which occasionally crops up is steering rack boots/gaiters, which seem prone to splitting with age. Having had this happen on mine, here are some notes on replacement. (Steering is obviously safety-critical so use a professional if in any doubt.)

The gaiters and clamps appear common to Starlet and Corolla. Part numbers involved are T45535-10051 (nearside = passenger side – this seems at odds to the parts CD-Rom which lists a 45536 number for this side, but it had the same manufacturer’s mark (Koyo 0801) and fitted OK so there may be a supercession. There is a stainless steel 49mm diameter clamp T90460-49003 on the inboard side and a simple wire clip on the outer – the latter is easy to remove and re-use.

Part costs (UK) were £12.30 for the boot and £3.84 for the clamp, both plus VAT – with care the clamp can be re-used and there may be cheaper aftermarket boots available from motor factors.

Access to the nearside boot is good whilst the offside (driver’s) looks more cramped but not impossible. Due to the orientation of the crimped clamp, it was necessary to get underneath the car.

The day before starting I applied penetrating oil, eg WD40, to the nut on the track rod end, making sure not to spray any on the brake disc, etc.

Firstly, put the steering wheel on RH lock to improve access and apply the handbrake, put in gear and chock the wheels to prevent the car slipping off the jack, etc. Loosen the front wheel nuts and jack the car up – I used a trolley jack on the rear wishbone mount with a piece of wood to prevent damage – there is not much height to get it under. Jacking the car up, I put an axle stand under the sill and lowered the car gently just onto it, then removing the wheel and putting it under the car to keep it out of the way and as an extra safety precaution.

The track rod end and the track rod have hexagonal flats in them and so can easily be gripped by (metric) spanners. I put a spot of Tippex white correcting fluid as a marker on the top side of the track rod to help ensure that the tracking would not be disturbed on reassembly. Securely gripping the track rod end, I loosened the track rod nut but left it touching the track rod end ( = the swivel joint on the wheel hub). Then I removed the wire clip from the boot and carefully unscrewed the track rod from the track rod end. The boot may try to turn with the rod. Counting the number of revolutions is not foolproof and it may be necessary to turn the steering slightly to pull the track rod away from the rod end – I then measured the length of thread between the track rod nut and the end of the rod. Remove the nut to get the wire clip off. The boot sits in a groove on the track rod and it may be necessary to insert a small screwdriver or similar to pull it out.

Sliding underneath the car, the clamp can be carefully removed by inserting a screwdriver, or similar, into the crimped part to open it up and loosen its grip. Slide it off the boot, which can then be slid off over the track rod, followed by the clamp which can be carefully straightened and re-used if OK. The track rod swivels in a greased ball joint – check that this is not full of road grit, etc and remove any other dirt which may have entered throught the split in the boot.

Slide the clamp on to the rack body and then the new boot. I preapplied a small amount of rubber grease to both ends of the boot to aid fitment. Slip the boot into the track rod groove and fit the wire clip. Then refit the nut to the previously measured thread length. Going back underneath the car (although it may be possible to do this from above, working under the bonnet) ensure that the boot is slipped over the rack body and tighten the clamp – I used a pair of pincers and then knocked the crimped piece flat neatly with a hammer and drift, rechecking the tightness.

After applying a little grease, line up the track rod with the rod end and screw it back in, taking care not to turn the nut on the track rod and hence disturb the point when it touches the track rod end. Checking that the white spot is uppermost as before, the nut is carefully tightened. Refit the roadwheel and check for any play in the steering by rocking it. Finally, remove the axle stand and jack and fully tighten the road wheel nuts.

Job done, which all took 45 minutes.

[Andrew – suggest taking car for a steering geometry check afterwards – 1mm toe in)

Chris Chapman, Tamworth Staffordshire, 1990 Sera MT, SLSS etc
February 2002