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.