Intro: 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...
...so 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
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
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!
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
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
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!
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!