Fluid in inner tie rod boot | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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Fluid in inner tie rod boot

mede116

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City, State
Briarcliff Manor, NY
Year, Model & Trim Level
2003, Explorer XLT EddieB
Hello, fellow Explorers!

Posting some pictures hoping to get some answers. Saw this rust-orange liquid gush out of the passenger inner tie rod boots during replacement. Wasn't a lot, only noticed small drop in PS fluid in the reservoir. There wasn't any noise nor any steering issues. Mechanic at a shop said there was too much play on it during inspection.

I drove through few feet of water some months back during a storm, and since I've lost that connector thing which runs from one boot to the next one, I'm considering water got in and accumulated there.

Any thoughts?
Thanks in advance!

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Hello, fellow Explorers!

Posting some pictures hoping to get some answers. Saw this rust-orange liquid gush out of the passenger inner tie rod boots during replacement. Wasn't a lot, only noticed small drop in PS fluid in the reservoir. There wasn't any noise nor any steering issues. Mechanic at a shop said there was too much play on it during inspection.

I drove through few feet of water some months back during a storm, and since I've lost that connector thing which runs from one boot to the next one, I'm considering water got in and accumulated there.

Any thoughts?
Thanks in advance!

View attachment 423066 View attachment 423067 View attachment 423068
I should add that the fluid is more consistent with water than PS fluid, which was my first thought
 






just looks like water to me
 












Probably the most important thing is to make sure that the rack gear has not become rusted or pitted from the exposure to moisture. Once the rack is pitted, the oil seal will no longer be able to keep the pressurized fluid in the housing. This is not repairable if its happened, at least it's not repairable by any means that would cost less than replacing it (unless you are a skilled precision machinist). This is one of the reasons why the boots are important.

I would jack up the truck, put it on stands, and remove the front tires. Remove or pull back each boot and turn the wheel all the way in one direction so that the end of the rack gear (where the inner tie rod attaches) sticks out as far as possible. Examine the protruding part of the gear for any rust or pitting. Do the same for the other side.

If there is no pitting on this part of the rack on either side then you are probably fine. If there is rust but no pitting, use some steel wool to remove the rust and polish the shaft.

If your PS fluid level isn't dropping and you are not having to top off the reservoir than you are not losing fluid around the seal. Even so, I would still inspect the rack to make sure you are not on your way to this problem. You should replace the breather tube because there will be no reliable way to keep moisture out of the boots without it. You can probably just use brake line and have it bent to the right shape. I believe that A1/Cardone sells the pressure tubing but I don't know if you can find just the breather tube. Any brake shop should be able to cut and bend some stock tubing for what you need.

LMHmedchem
 






The bellows on each end will suck air in when extended which is why there is an air tube connecting them
Thank you! Do you know where I can buy the air tube?
 






Thank you! Do you know where I can buy the air tube?
On one of the remanufactured rack and pinions I have used, the air tube was just reasonably heavy plastic tubing. I guess I would have preferred metal, but I actually can't really think of a great reason for that. The plastic will never rust and should be fairly easy to replace if it fails for some other reason. On mine, it was just zip tied to the pressure hoses.

PartsGeek.com often has some of the metal tubing for sale. It comes in a set of all three tubes and sometimes you can buy them individually. I don't remember seeing the air tube by itself. The tubing kits are like $50, which I think is a bit too much. You also have to be careful because some of the parts are for right hand drive and things like that. If you really want metal tubing, any decent brake shop should be able to bend one up for you. Just call around and ask about pricing.

You need to measure the distance, since you don't have the original one, and then also measure the size of the hole in the bellows. I would use a caliper for that, but you could use a measuring tape. Go a little bigger with the size rather than smaller. It has to fit tightly. If you want to be sure about the fit you can take off one of the boots to take to wherever you are getting the part. That can be a pain and you will need a new band clamp to put the boot back on so a good measurement might be the better option.

Possibly someone here can post the measurements. Is this for the v6 or the v8?

The only issue I see with plastic tubing is that it usually comes on a roll and you would need to get it straight. You might be able to do that with heat, I don't know. It depends on what the tubing is made of.

LMHmedchem
 






^ Couldn't curly tubing just be strapped down?

Water vs PS fluid, pretty easy to tell, put some on paper or cardboard and wait to see if it dries out. Water does, PS fluid doesn't.
 






^ Couldn't curly tubing just be strapped down?
Yes, but I think it would be a pain to install.

I had to remove the inner tie rod ends to install mine so I could get it in without unbolting the frame. It was pretty hard to get the vent tubing back into the boot after I had the tie rods back on. There isn't allot of room in there and I had a hard time getting leverage on the tubing to push it in because it was flexible. I think it would be noticeably worse if the tubing was trying to coil up at the same time. The poster here will be in the same boat since the rack is already installed. If the rack was out of the truck there would be more options, but I wouldn't take it out just for that. You could probably just strap a piece of tubing down to something for a week or so and it would relax. Maybe a little heat would help as well.

I think that a metal tube would be much easier to install since it's rigid and you can push on it from further away from the boot where you could get your hand on it firmly. Personally I would try a brake shop to get metal bent up, but you can use plastic if you don't mind fiddling with it some.

LMHmedchem
 






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