I was told that the right side ‘boot’ of the steering rack shows a split a needs to be repaired and that after the repair a full wheel alignment is needed. Is this a necessary and urgent repair? What happens if I do not do it immediately? Is it dangerous to drive the car with a split steering boot? I do not have immediate resources to pay for the repair. Can someone kindly advise what to do and recommend if this can be done economically with a non-dealer shop and the urgency of the repair? My car is an old Toyota Corolla LE 1992 with about 200K miles. Thanks.
The steering rack boot protects the rack from dirt contamination. Unless you drive on completely clean and dry roads, your rack will soon deteriorate and wear out.
For an emergency fix, you could wrap some duct tape around it to keep the dirt and moisture out.
But I would get this fixed as soon as possibe, although you are in no immediate physical danger.
You are getting to the point in the cars life (age and mileage) where it is close to the “drive it into the ground” point. Do you want to keep this car for another 100K miles and/or 5 to 10 years? How much mileage per year are you putting on the car?
It is not dangerouse to drive the car as it is. A leaky boot means lubricants and fluids leak out and dirt can get inside the steering rack. These items combined mean the steering rack will wear out quicker than if the boot were intact. How much quicker? and how long will it last? are anybodys guess. If you price the cost of a new or rebuilt steering rack you won’t like the number, it is an expensive repair.
If you want to keep the car for 5 years and 50-60K miles I’d suggest replacing the boot when the funds are available. This will protect and preserve the steering rack and avoid a more expensive repair.
If the car is rusty and has some other issues it could be time to just drive it for as long as it holds up and is safe. If you take this approach you’ll need to monitor your power steering fluid level more frequently than you have in the past. I’d also park the car on some cardboard and monitor the size of the drops. When the leak gets worse you’ll see the evidence.
Here’s An Idea For You. I Have No Experience With This, I’m Not Endorsing It, But . . .
. . . there’s a company (Australia?, New Zealand?) that sells a boot that they claim can be slipped (it’s stretchy!) over the disconnected tie-rod end and installed with no need for an alignment. It could be worth a try.