When I discovered recently that the steering rack boots were split and all the oil had leaked out I knew I had a fairly big job on my hands. I ordered a pair of new track rods ends and boots and my friend Paul offered to help.
I started by jacking up the front of the car, settling it on axle stands and removing the front wheels. Then I used a ball joint splitter to unstick the existing track Rod ends which we’re looking a bit ropey. I got stuck trying to the free up the locking nut on the rack ends but a quick call to ‘Mechanical Mark’ soon fixed this. Mark was round in a heartbeat with a lump hammer and huge adjustable spanner. A couple of firm accurate blows and the locking nut was free. I had sprayed it with WD40 but it could have done with longer – anyway, it was released.
With the track rod ends off we could then remove the steering rack boots which was a bit fiddly but as we were replacing with new we did not have to be too careful.
With the hubs disconnected from the steering arms we checked how well the king pin assembly was moving as this might also explain the stiff steering but both sides were operating smoothly and without any issues.
Next job was to get the new boots on and this was straightforward enough. It was fiddly getting the cable ties on nice and tight and the tails trimmed off but a reasonable job was done on both ends of the boot
The track rod ends wound on easily enough and the rusted exposed thread gave a good gauge as to when they were in the right place, although I had counted the exposed threads (16) and number of rotations (17) so I’m confident they are near enough aligned – that’s always assuming the tracking was right on the old ones which is anyone’s guess! Once the ends were threaded on we popped the shank onto the hub and tightened up the locking nut. The near side was painful as the locking nut wouldn’t go on, it just spun the ball joint. I got a bit lost and had to admit defeat, solving it later in the week. The key is to get the shank nicely bedded into the opening because then the taper grips and stops it from turning. I used a hammer handle to brace it while I got a few turns on and then it was easy breezy. I pumped the oil in a couple of days later and it’s all back together as intended.