There are many parts of the car that are easily forgotten about until something goes wrong. They are the small parts hidden well under the surface like the rack and pinion bellows and boots. The bellows and boot wraps the rack and pinion like a rubber sheet and protects it from dirt and water that may damage the part. As with any kind of rubber, these boots can become brittle and crack open or fall off entirely. It is important to replace them as soon as possible because a lot of damage can be caused to the rack and pinion if they get dirty or rusty. A damage part can often result in difficult steering, a lack of feel in the steering or a loss of ability to steer the car altogether. A replacement rack and pinion can run several hundred dollars while a rack and pinion bellows and boot often costs much less. It depends on the part and brand but they usually include clamps and grease. They can be replaced by themselves but it may be a good idea to replace them when replace the rack and pinion, tie rods or other steering components on the car.
The rack and pinion bellows and boot are nearly always made out of rubber but may sometimes be available in urethane or plastic. They are soft and have an accordion-like shape so that they are flexible and can take the demands given to them by the movement of the steering wheel. They are typically black in color but may be blue or other colors. The rack and pinion bellows and boot usually come as a solid boot but may also be offered as a split boot that can be installed without the need of moving the rack and pinion off the car. These lower the cost of doing the repair and are sometimes called quick boots. They have a long history of automotive applications and boots and bellow have been used on other parts of the car as well.
This part may be difficult to access in the car and it is strongly recommended that it is changed by a mechanic with experience in changing these parts. Here are some of the steps involved in changing the part.