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Pelican Technical Article:

Steering Rack Boot Replacement On The BMW E30 3 Series
Jared Fenton
Wayne R. Dempsey

Difficulty Level: 3
Difficulty scale: Adding air to your tires is level one
Rebuilding a BMW Motor is level ten

     In this tech article, I will go over the steps involved in replacing the steering rack boot on the E30 BMW. While doing the front suspension overhaul, I had noticed that one of my steering rack boots had torn and begun to wear away. I wanted to get my car out of Wayneís garage a.s.a.p, so, I decided to put this off until the next weekend when Wayne and I could tackle doing the alignment, (tech article coming soon).

     That said, letís begin. To replace the steering rack boot, the first step is to loosen the lug bolts while the vehicle is still on the ground, do not remove the bolts, just loosen them then snug them back up. Next jack the car up, and remove the front wheels. I highly recommend that anyone not familiar with jacking up their BMW to read Wayneís tech article on jacking the car up.


     Now, with the front wheels removed, look at the tie rods. In order to install the new boots, we will need to remove the tire rod ends from the front hub/control arm assembly. To do this, first use a 19mm wrench or socket to remove the nut holding the tie rod end. Itís helpful to spray a little penetrate on the nut to prevent stripping or seizing. With the nuts removed, the next step is to separate the tie rod ends from the hubs. You will want to use a tire rod separator or ďpickle forkĒ in-between the tie rod end and the hub. Use a hammer on the end of the tool and it will force the tie rod ends out of the hub.

     With the tire rod ends out, you now can see the boot itself. In this case, the boot was completely torn in half. You will need to remove the clips on either end to remove the boot. I used a pair of needle-nose pliers to bend back the tang on top, and then pull back on the tang. This will release the clip.

     With the clips removed, you can now remove the boot. Normally you can just slide the old boot off; in this case I used a pair of tin snips to cut through the old boot. With the old boot off, now is a good time to clean the tie rod assembly. Be sure to clean off any dirt or rust that may have built up on the rod.

     Before you slide the new boot on, itís a good idea to apply some grease to the tire rod assembly to keep everything lubricated and moving. I also recommend packing the inside of the new boot with good axle grease. Now, simply slide the new boot over the tie rod end and slide it into position, first where it meets the center of the steering rack and then over the collar at the opposite end. Use a rag to clean off any grease that may have gotten on the tie rods or anywhere else. You donít have to get them spotless. Itís actually a good idea to have a small layer of grease on there anyway to prevent rust. The only downside is that dirt and grime will adhere to the components that have been greased. Just make sure to keep the components clean. I wash my car every Saturday, and part of that is using the high-pressure hose at the local car wash under the car and in the engine compartment.

     With the new boots in place, I used a zip tie on either end to hold them in place. Simply place the zip-tie around the boot, pull it tight, and then clip off the remaining plastic. Make sure the zip-ties are tight to prevent grease from escaping or water from entering.

     Now re-install the tie rod ends back into the hubs. I found that placing a jack under the tie rod ends and jacking them up into the hubs helped to keep the tie rod joint from spinning when I re-installed the nuts. Use a new 19mm locknut and torque to 26 ft/lbs. Itís important that whenever you are working with suspension components that you replace any locknuts. They are designed to be used only once. Failure to do this can cause the nut to work itself loose and can cause damage to both your car and yourself. Think about what would happen if you were driving on the freeway and the tie rods fell out of the hubs. You would lose your steering, and possibly crash!

     With the new nuts in place and torqued, re-install the wheels and snug up the lug bolts. Now lower the vehicle and tighten the lug bolts in a criss-cross pattern until all the bolts are tight.    

     Well, there you have it - it's really not too difficult at all.  If you would like to see more technical articles like this one, please continue to support Pelican Parts with all your parts needs.  If you like what you see here, then please visit our online BMW catalog and help support the collection and creating of new and informative technical articles like this one.  Your continued support directly affects the expansion and existence of this site and technical articles like this one.  As always, if you have any questions or comments about this helpful article, please drop us a line.

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