Introduction: Poor Man's Tie Rod End (or Ball Joint) Boot

Picture of Poor Man's Tie Rod End (or Ball Joint) Boot

A simple & cheap way to seal any ball and socket type joint after the boot has been compromised.

I teach High School Automotives and while replacing a clutch (and most everything else we came across!) in a faculty member's car, we found the tie rod end boots were completely torn off. I didn't want to send the car down the road without any protection, and the faculty member (being a teacher) had no extra funds for any more replacement parts... I came up with a cheap to keep idea!

This should work with any ball joint, or tie rod end type of joint.

Step 1: Tools and Supplies

Picture of Tools and Supplies

You will need:

- A piece of heater hose (we used 3/4")
- A means to cut the heater hose
- - Band saw (use power tools whenever possible!)
- - Utility knife (Razor type knife)
- - Diagonal cutters (Dykes)

Step 2: Identify and Prep

Picture of Identify and Prep

Do all of them at once!

Find all instances of deteriorated boots and remove any left over rubber from around the joint. This joint had no boot at all left!

Step 3: Measure Twice, Cut Once!

Picture of Measure Twice, Cut Once!

Measure the diameter of hose you will need. It should completely cover the socket where the ball fits into the joint.

Then measure the length of hose you will need. It should have a small amount of compression when the joint is reinstalled. Shoot for about 1/16" of crush after it's installed.

(Make the length of the hose 1/16" longer than the space into which it will fit)

Step 4: Cut New Boot to Length

Picture of Cut New Boot to Length

Using whetever means available, cut you new boot(s) to length. Be sure to insure the ends are square to provide the best seal.

Step 5: Quality Assurance

Picture of Quality Assurance

Admire your new boot. Notice the perfectly square and clean ends. See how they are free of any burrs, reinforcing braids, or loose rubber particles.

What a superb job you have done!

Step 6: Install Your New Boot!

Picture of Install Your New Boot!

Slide that bad boy up on the stem of the tie rod end and reasemble the joint.

Don't forget to properly torque the fastener and install a new cotter pin!

Step 7: Final Thoughts and Considerations.

1. Please remember to grease the joint after assembly.
2. I am pretty sure that the rubber in a heater hose will not stand up to super long term exposure to petroleum products (that's why we don't use radiator hoses for gas tank filler necks). However, this will keep grease in and protect the joint from foreign matter. I believe that it should last quite a while.
3. Remember to routinely inspect your entire vehicle for safety and keep the rubber side down!


kneedragon76 (author)2011-07-14

Good Temporary fix. I'm probably going to do this on my F350 with blown tre's. However I think it to be advantageous to use FUEL hose as the grease used to lubricate the balljoint will disolve the heater house potentially putting small particles in the ball joint which could increase wear.

Ever used a radiator house as a fuel line to the gas tank? Yeah about like that.

Mikey D (author)kneedragon762011-07-14

Very good point!

Excellent in fact.

Just have to find fuel line big enough to wrap around it.

Thanks for your comment,


Rocksterr (author)2010-02-07

Hey Mikey,  Thanks for the clear and  concise presentation.  Some of the best solutions are the simplest. The OEM boots are too easily damaged as are CV joint boots.  Reinforced rubber, such as that used for heater hoses, would last a lot longer than the wimpy rubber boots our vehicles come with, I think.


Mikey D (author)Rocksterr2010-02-07

Thanks Rocky!

It does seem like these will last longer.  I (as you) wish I could find a substitute for those silly CV boots.  They are the demise of a good joint.


FeedTheGrid (author)2009-04-14

Nicely done!

SurferGeek (author)2008-05-21

Great job... now I just need someone to do one on CV joints for a 1996 Honda Accord. ;)

wrksnfx (author)SurferGeek2008-08-21

You can buy a rebuilt half shaft for about 110.00 (Left side) including the 50.00 core from autozone that was w/ the 2.7 L v6 motor model take in your old one get the new one w/ a 90 day warranty the left side costs a little more than the right though.

Mikey D (author)SurferGeek2008-05-21

Hmmm... maybe one of those 4" flex couplings you use to fix a waste sewer line? ;-) Thanks!

danielmilhousechun (author)2008-05-21

great fix!

If you use rubber hose with nylon filament which can be seen from the side of the cross section of the rubber tubing, you will see what looks like little white threads this is used for fuel lines

Decepticon (author)2008-05-22

Great Instructable! I'll be sure to bookmark this one when my boots 'go up'!

bhunter736 (author)2008-05-21

Excellent idea! Great instructable too! Next time mine start to weep, I will probably do this. Thanks.

About This Instructable




Bio: I teach High School Welding and Video Game Development (currently) and have taught everything in the Industrial Technology area. I also currently teach Welding at ... More »
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