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Discussion Starter #1
I noticed the other day that my passenger's side tie rod boot was cracked & leaking fluid, a few big spurts of fluid at first that has moved to a slow drip. So I picked up a new boot and read up on the replacement procedure in the factory service manual. From what I gathered, the manual assumed I have the whole steering rack off the car and on a bench. I was able to find some instructions in a forum post dealing with inner tie rod removal, with 94mncougar providing the instructions quoted below. So far I have managed undo the clamps and get the (mangled)boot off the rack.

The next step--according to what I have read--is to remove that nasty little retaining pin/rivet thing on the steering rack. I have managed to extract about 3/8 inch of what looks to be an expansion rivet thing--four wedges with a rod in the center to expand the wedges to fit--with two of the wedges broken off. The ends of the center rod and remaining wedges don't look like they've been sheared or torn apart. I don't know how long the pin/rivet is supposed to be, and I don't have a spare though I suppose a pop rivet might hold long enough to limp to a shop that knows what they're doing.

Assuming I've doing things properly, how in the world am I supposed to remove that inner tie rod from the rack without scoring or damaging it or am I in real trouble? I have to say that rivet is in the most nerve-wracking tear your hair out impossible place.

First of all, is your car in good alignment? Secondly, how are your wheel bearings? When I did my inner tie rods here is what I did IIRC:

1. Jack up car and block rear wheels.
2. Make sure steering wheel is straight and removed front wheels.
3. Marked the position of the outer tie rod on the old inner tie rod.
4. Remove clamps holding tie rod boot (make sure to have replacements - regular screw on clamps will work).
5. Remove pin or drill out rivet on inner tie rod at the steering rack.
6. Loosen inner tie rod at rack, and remove from car.
7. Remove outer tie rod (counting turns) and remove tie rod boot.
8. Put tie rod boot on new inner tie rod.
9. Transfer outer tie rod to new inner tie rod putting it on the same amount of turns (should match old inner's mark from step 3).
10. Install reverse of removal.
11. GET an alignment, make sure your car is close enough to make it to the shop.

If I were you, I would do this over a weekend so that you have time to go through it and replace other parts if necessary. . . I hope my instructions are correct and make sense. Just go through it and make sure to mark and measure where your tie rods are at in relation to the rest of the suspension so that you can get it close enough for driving to the alignment shop.

Stephen
 

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That nasty rivet you are referring to is not much of a concern. It is so soft that you could unscrew the inner tie rod with it still in place and not damage the threads on the rack at all. If you were not careful you'd probably damage the threads more drilling the rivet (you could practically bite in half) out. I usually just use a large crescent wrench and turn the inner right off (fifteen minute job to rip both inners off our cars, if that).

I think the thing you should be concerned about is that the fluid is dripping from your rack and out the boot. The boot is not there to contain fluid, the seals on the ends of the rack are. There should be no fluid inside that boot especially enough to drip! It is there to keep dirt and debris out of that particular part of the rack.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
So you're saying I might not be in as much trouble as thought last night. I don't know how long that rivet is supposed to be but it is long enough to go through the rack and into the tie rod but how far past I don't know. Set screws don't go very far, just enough to lodge in the thread of whatever they're holding. I'll fish around using a bent paper clip and see what I get. I'll try your method and hope it works.

Is it possible to just remove the tie rod from the rack and replace the boot from there or do I have to remove the tie rod completely to change the boot?

This fluid past the seals thing has me concerned. Is this problem enough to warrant a trip to the shop immediately, or could it wait awhile? Is it even possible to just replace those seals or am I in need of a new steering rack?
 

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You don't need to take the whole inner off just to remove the boot, just the outter tie rod and jamb nut. The rivet goes through the inner part of the inner tie rod and terminates at the threads. It does not go through the portion of the rack. If you are dead set on removing the inners it is an absolute waste of time farting around removing the rivet. Find a crescent wrench and give it a good pull or push and it will come right off. My method will work, no hope needed (i've removed more inner tie rods rivet or not than most people) just don't be a wimp about turning the inner off. If your steering rack is leaking that bad get a rebuilt/new one. Leaks usually don't get better, it's going to cost you to get it replaced regardless of when you do it. If you can swing it, just fix it. At this point it is a waste of time to put a new boot on it, the fluid is still going to hit the ground just not as fast.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Yeah, I figured out the obvious path about the same time you posted last. Thanks for your help in alerting me to problems about the leak.
 

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No problem, hope you get it fixed.
 
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