Inner tie rod clunk noise

Hello all, I have a 2006 ford escape with 180k miles. With the car stopped, when I turn my steering wheel all the way to the left and begin to turn it right there is a very very loud clunk from the front left. I had someone repeat this process while I looked under the car. The clunk comes from the inner tie rod area. I jacked the front off the ground and confirmed there is some play. The right side also has some play, but less and no clunk. The bellows on both sides were broken so both inner tie rods were exposed. My understanding is that it could either be the inner tie rods or the steering rack (although I do not have a PS leak). My question is, do I replace both inner tie rods and ends or just go ahead and replace the steering rack?

Replace the inner tie rods and boots…

If the clunk goes away, that’s it!


This was my idea, I would just hate to spend $100 on the tie rod assemblies + puller tool to just spend another $300 on a rack which already comes with the inner tie rods in place.

Is there any hydraulic fluid leaking from the rack?

Is the vehicle using power steering fluid?

If not, replace the tie rods and boots.