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Changing A Powersteering Boot: DIY or Pay Up?

Since you folks have always steered me in the right direction (no pun intended), I’m back with another question about my Cressida. First, though, I want to say thanks for you taking your time to provide your input on all of my car-related issues. I know that they’re almost always minor, but you guys always offer your $0.02. Thanks for that.

Now, on to my question. It’s actually pretty simple. When I bought my Cressida, the previous owner told me that the right power steering boot is bad and needs to be replaced. I can vouch for that, since it does leak a little bit, needing to have the powersteering fluid reservoir topped off every few weeks. The good part is that the car actually came with a replacement boot.

My question is, how hard would it be for me or myself and another mechanically-inclined person to change this boot? One person told me it could be very labor intensive, requiring some unusual tools. If that’s not something a DIYer can do, would you have a general idea on how much a repair like this could cost?

Sorry, but a boot is not going to fix this problem.
Fluid leakage out of that boot means the steering rack seals are leaking and the rack needs to be replaced.

The person who sold you the car and informed you of this boot problem is either misinformed or was lying to you after he discovered he would have to replace the rack.

Well, shoot. If that’s the case, I’d as soon just keep topping off the fluid! I have seen the boot and it’s torn down the middle, so I know that’s got to at least be part of it.

The boot is only there to keep dirt and crud off the seal surface of the sliding rack. The seal is underneath the boot as part of the rack. If it is already leaking, the seal is shot. Replacing the boot will do nothing for you now. It simply is not worth the labor and trouble. The rack must be disassembled to replace the seals. Your better off getting a replacement rack than to fool around with the torn boot.

Yes, there are internal seals in the steering rack that retain fluid and the only purpose of the boot is to keep dirt off of the ends of the rack assembly.
Odds are the boot has been broken for a while, ignored or overlooked, and time, along with dirt/water, have caused the seals to disentegrate.

That’s too bad about the steering rack. Do you think this is a good deal?

'88 Cressida Steering Rack

If that’s not very good, I’m open to suggestions. Any idea what the labor on this would be?

That’s an okay price for the part, though your local parts houses are probably going to be competitive with it after shipping. It’s the labor that’s a real killer usually with these things because there’s usually a lot in the way and it’s difficult to get to. I would definitely take it to a good independent mechanic and see for one what the cost of replacing the entire rack is and if it would make economic sense for them to change the seals on the one you’ve got or just ordering in a new one. You might get lucky and maybe it’s a breeze to do on this car-- the Cressida definitely has a roomier engine compartment than some other Toyota models!.

I’ll also mention if you do go the topping it off route that the power steering system needs to hold pressure and so eventually the leak will get so bad that it stops working entirely.

Before spending the money on a replacement rack & pinion assembly and going through the trouble of installing it, give this a try.


How about just topping the fluid as you go. How old is this car and how many miles on it?

Thanks for the helpful responses, guys. FYI it’s an '88 and has just over 197,000 miles on it if that makes a difference.

I’m going to try that Lucas PS stop leak stuff. If it works, how hard would it be for me to replace that torn PS boot?

  1. Disconnect tie rod ball joint from steering knuckle.
  2. Mark position of tie rod ball joint to tie rod.
  3. Remove tie rod ball joint from tie rod.
  4. Remove damaged boot from steering rack.
  5. Install new boot onto steering rack.
  6. Replace tie rod ball joint on tie rod, and try to get original position as close as possible.
  7. Reattach ball joint to steering knuckle using new cotter pin.
  8. Drive to alignment shop for an alignment.

The problem with a boot only repair is that this is not going to solve a fluid leak, plus at the age/mileage of the car the inner tie rod is probably gone also.
If one side is gone then the other is not likely far behind.

By the time one replaces a pair of boots, pair of inner tie rods, not to mention likely worn tie rod ends, it’s more cost effective to replace the entire steering rack.