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Old 02-04-2019, 03:38 AM #1
Tenuki Tenuki is offline
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Options for leaking Steering Rack

Hey all!

1998 4Runner with 208k. My steering rack has been seeping for quite a while, but its never been an issue. This last week, however, it seems to have formed quite the leak. I would ocassionally get a spot or two on the driveway, but now there is a full on puddle underneath. It seems to be coming from the boot at the top of the rack where the input shaft comes in.

So I see a lot of threads with people replacing them... Is that the only option? I'd really rather not! Can that top piece be replaced (the one that has the boot on it that seems to be the source of the leak)? I saw one person suggest leak stop ATF, but this seems to be flowing far to fast for that to fix.

Thanks for your suggestions!
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Old 02-04-2019, 08:38 AM #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tenuki View Post
Hey all!

1998 4Runner with 208k. My steering rack has been seeping for quite a while, but its never been an issue. This last week, however, it seems to have formed quite the leak. I would ocassionally get a spot or two on the driveway, but now there is a full on puddle underneath. It seems to be coming from the boot at the top of the rack where the input shaft comes in.

So I see a lot of threads with people replacing them... Is that the only option? I'd really rather not! Can that top piece be replaced (the one that has the boot on it that seems to be the source of the leak)? I saw one person suggest leak stop ATF, but this seems to be flowing far to fast for that to fix.

Thanks for your suggestions!
Are you sure itís the steering rack? The steering rack reservoir has been low and you have to add fluid to keep it topped off.

The reason I ask is because the racks location means it catches all the drips from pretty much everything else and can look like itís leaking but itís really not.
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Old 02-04-2019, 09:11 AM #3
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I went down this rabbit hole last year at this time of year.

I used Lucas power steering stop leak to buy me some time. It worked okay to slow down the bleeding but was not able to stop it. I ended up ordering a new steering rack and outer tie rods from Camelback Toyota. I have hit the point in my life that I would rather do it right the first time and move on.

Now 30k miles later and it is working great and is not something I worry about.
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Old 02-04-2019, 10:00 AM #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tenuki View Post
Hey all!

1998 4Runner with 208k. My steering rack has been seeping for quite a while, but its never been an issue. This last week, however, it seems to have formed quite the leak. I would ocassionally get a spot or two on the driveway, but now there is a full on puddle underneath. It seems to be coming from the boot at the top of the rack where the input shaft comes in.

So I see a lot of threads with people replacing them... Is that the only option? I'd really rather not! Can that top piece be replaced (the one that has the boot on it that seems to be the source of the leak)? I saw one person suggest leak stop ATF, but this seems to be flowing far to fast for that to fix.

Thanks for your suggestions!
If it is leaking from the boot on the power steering rack (or any boot on it) then replacing the boot will not fix the leak. The boot is merely there to keep dust and debris away from the seals. You likely have an inner tie rod seal leaking. If you take a pick and pierce the bottom of one of the inner tie rod boots close to the steering gear and fluid comes out then you have an inner tie rod seal leaking. While they can be rebuilt it's a much better route to replace the whole power steering rack assembly.

Last edited by Bad Luck; 02-04-2019 at 11:37 AM.
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Old 02-04-2019, 03:59 PM #5
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I had a similar situation with my rack when I purchased the vehicle. I noticed a bit of a leak in the boots and assumed I could just replace the boots. 3 months down the line the leak was much worse and after getting into things I noticed quite a bit of play from the actual rack. I am sure I went though water, mud and who knows what else with my boots compromised. At the end of the day, after quite a bit of research and discussion I went with a OEM Toyota rack with inner tie rods and got a pair of new outers as well. It was not cheap but I heard some horror stories of people putting in aftermarket racks only to replace them a year or so later. With that said my rack solved a good bit of my steering play and things feel much better after the swap and still very sold a year later.
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Old 02-04-2019, 05:42 PM #6
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Options for leaking Steering Rack-20190126_140217-min-jpg

This is a photo a took a month or so ago, before it started leaking really bad. I haven't gotten under there recently to check as its been snowing and raining a lot and I just don't want to get under there ha.

It is ATF, so its either the rack or the transmission, but I don't see any evidence that its coming from the transmission.

Also, I was probably not clear enough in my initial post. I said that it was leaking from the boots, but that could mean the boots on the sides that cover the inner tie rod ends. Its not that boot. I'm talking about the boot at the top of the rack, above the feed line, below the steering input shaft.

Is it possible to replace the part (not just the boot, its got to be a seal or something inside the input shaft) that is leaking?
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Old 02-04-2019, 11:36 PM #7
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Looks like my leak did - get ready to replace the rack and pinion. Odds are you have a leak at the top of the rack and pinion.

Do not forget to budget for an alignment after the install. I ended up swapping out the lower control arms and rack and pinion all at the same time as part of rebuilding my front end. I had installed Camburg UCAs the month prior.

But yeah - you are boned.
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Old 02-05-2019, 12:46 AM #8
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Toyota decided at the time of the changeover from 2nd gen to 3rd gen/Tacoma to replace the tried and true heavy-duty recirculating ball and nut steering box that usually outlasted the vehicle with a rack and pinion steering system, which is pretty much guaranteed not to outlast the vehicle, and which had previously had been considered appropriate equipment for lightweight economy- and sports cars. From durable... to disposable.
Alas, the steering rack is not as inexpensive as the disposable aluminum and plastic(!) radiator, which has the added advantage of being easy for any home mechanic to replace.
You got 21 years out of a disposable part...that's pretty good!
Most service techs, if they are honest with you, will tell you that attempting to rebuild the rack, or replace seals on it, will be, at best, be a very temporary fix.
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Old 02-05-2019, 04:15 PM #9
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If you end up deciding to replace the rack it is indeed a bit of a pain in the ass but definitely doable with a moderate selection of hand tools, lots of patience, and some elbow grease. I had mine out and the new one in over the course of a day, and I work slow. The new rack was ballpark $350 with a lifetime warranty from Advance. While you're at it replace the rack bushings.
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Old 02-06-2019, 04:29 AM #10
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Well, you guys aren't very good at telling me what I want to hear!

Sounds like I'll have to order a new one. Probably go with OEM as I intend to keep this truck for some time. Just put in bilstein 5200's, OME Springs, new valve cover gaskets, replaced timing belt and water pump, as well as a new radiator, and fixed the leak at the top of the transfer case from a bad seal/rotted shifter seat.... what's another $600? lol

Sometimes I wonder if driving an older 4Runner is really saving me any money over a somewhat newer one!
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Old 02-06-2019, 10:43 AM #11
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Quote:
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Well, you guys aren't very good at telling me what I want to hear!

Sounds like I'll have to order a new one. Probably go with OEM as I intend to keep this truck for some time. Just put in bilstein 5200's, OME Springs, new valve cover gaskets, replaced timing belt and water pump, as well as a new radiator, and fixed the leak at the top of the transfer case from a bad seal/rotted shifter seat.... what's another $600? lol

Sometimes I wonder if driving an older 4Runner is really saving me any money over a somewhat newer one!
Sounds like you're a DIYer Mechanic like many of us. In case you haven't seen it yet, @infamousRNR and I have a video you can use for the steering rack swap.

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Old 02-12-2019, 02:35 AM #12
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Quote:
Sounds like you're a DIYer Mechanic like many of us. In case you haven't seen it yet, @infamousRNR and I have a video you can use for the steering rack swap.
Thanks, I've referenced your videos for just about everything I've done. I haven't looked into the steering rack yet, but it doesn't seem like it should be too bad.
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Old 02-12-2019, 04:51 AM #13
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Just remember what one months payment on a newer vehicle will me. My 4runner has been payed off for years now, but I keep making the payment on my Diesel truck that tends to sit in the driveway for much more of its life while I rack up the miles on my 240k+ 4runner.

One month's payment on a newer car will pay for the full fix on something that lasted 200k miles on your 4runner. Stay strong my friend.
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Old 02-12-2019, 12:47 PM #14
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Quote:
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Thanks, I've referenced your videos for just about everything I've done. I haven't looked into the steering rack yet, but it doesn't seem like it should be too bad.
There's a couple of massive bolts that can give you quite a fight. Hopefully all that oil has made things a little easier to get out LOL! And be very, very, very, very, careful with the nuts on the fluid lines, they strip super easy. I actually stripped the threads one of mine but got lucky and got it tight enough not to leak. And I was threading them by hand!

If you don't have the cash right now, some power steering stop leak does work, it did for me. You probably ran across my power steering rack thread where my rack was leaking from the inner seals. The stop leak actually worked well until my 4Runner hit a curb and pushed the rack over the edge and created a massive dead spot in the steering.
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Old 02-12-2019, 03:37 PM #15
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Purely anecdotal, but my wife replaced the steering rack on her '96 with a 'rebuilt' one, save a couple of hundred bucks!! Then, a couple of years later, it's leaking again.

A lifetime replacement warranty on a rebuilt is great and all, but it's not a trivial amount of dirty cheerless work to replace one, and then you have to get an alignment, which isn't free.

Next time around, she got a new OEM Toyota rack. If it lasted 230K the first tie, maybe it will last 230K the second time too.
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