Twisted Boots: Checking the rack & pinion after alignment

Twisted boots on Rack & Pinion systems are an avoidable comeback failure. To keep this from happening the following steps should be taken.

After proper installation of a rack & pinion unit, including flushing and bleeding, the vehicle is then sent for an alignment. In order to set the correct toe adjustment, the inner tie rod(s) on the rack & pinion typically must be turned, and this is when the problem starts.

If the boot clamps are not loosened, the tie rods are unable to turn freely inside the boots (bellows), and the boots will become twisted. Once twisted they no longer move freely with the rack preventing them from expanding and contracting. The boots continue to twist tighter while the vehicle is driven, eventually causing the boots to tear. Water and road debris are then able to enter the rack causing internal rust and damage the rack shaft seal leading to a leak and premature failure.

A rack & pinion, once completely sealed and operating perfectly, is now defective and the vehicle comes back for an avoidable replacement. Therefore, always check the rack & pinion after the car is returned from alignment to make sure the boots are not twisted.

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