Steering Rack Boots - All you need to know
A Steering Rack Boot is a concertina type flexible rubber/plastic sleeve, covering the Steering Rack Ends to prevent the ingress of dirt and water, allowing the component to be covered even when it is stretched out to its extreme functionality.
Made of durable plastic on some models of vehicles to allow for longer operational periods but are much more expensive than its rubber counterparts.
A Steering Rack Boot is fixed onto the Steering Rack by an array of methods, namely zip ties, wire clamps, screw clamps and sometimes special squeeze clamps.
Steering Rack Boots are necessary for the longevity of the Steering Rack Ends and need to be inspected periodically. Steering Rack Boots are only used on a Rack and Pinion type steering system.
It is relatively cheap to replace but can be tricky to access on certain vehicles, Steering Rack systems are fairly simple and have less moving parts than the older conventional steering box systems, which incorporates more moving parts.
Different Steering Racks
There are 2 major differences in Steering Rack systems namely
- Power Steering Rack.
- Manual Steering Rack.
Power Steering Rack
A Power Steering Rack is assisted by a power steering motor which circulates a lubricating fluid throughout the Power Steering System, making steering a vehicle easier because of its light feel and minimal effort from the driver, less force is needed to operate the steering wheel. Prefered especially by Women and Older Folk
Manual Steering Rack
A Manual Steering Rack has no assistance to make it feel lighter, although manageable it is not as effortless as a Power Steering Rack, in today’s modern vehicles Manual Steering Racks are very seldom if ever used.
Wear and Symptoms
A Steering Rack wears with time and it’s most common symptoms are knocking noises emanating from the steering wheel and column. Excessive play on the steering wheel, causing the vehicle to veer to one side uncontrollably and a spongy feel on the steering can indicate worn steering rack ends.
When the Steering Rack Boots are torn, it is a good indication that wear could already be present and thorough inspection of the Steering Rack should be carried out.
Power Steering Racks may also leak lubricant when the Steering Rack seals and pipes wear.
It is important to note that when Power Steering Fluid appears to leak from the Steering Rack Boots, replacing the boots will not solve the leak, Steering Rack Boots only function is to keep out dirt and water.
It is in all probability the Power Steering Rack seals that are worn and causing the leak.
A whining sound emanating from the Power Steering Pump usually indicates low Power Steering fluid also indicating leaks.
Power Steering Racks are more costly to repair and replace but are so much more pleasant to operate. Manual steering racks are cheaper to repair and maintain but are outdated and harder to operate. Both use Steering Rack Boots.