S2000 Tie Rod Boot Replacement

This is part of a series of articles describing some work I did on my Honda S2000 in Dec 2004. Since I did several things all at once, the pictures and descriptions may not be exactly what you would see and do if you were to do this job by itself. Use proper tools, safety techniques, parts, and judgement. These descriptions and pictures are (to the best of my ability) accurate representations of what I did, but they do not constitute a recommendation for what you should do. If you are in any doubt about your ability to do this work, have the work done by a professional.

What this is all about

During a pre-track inspection in the fall of 2004 I noticed that the boot on my left front tie rod was cracked and bleeding grease. So I pumped some clean grease into the crack, wrapped it with electrical tape, and hoped that would hold off any damage to the ball joint until I could fix it. A couple months later I did some major work, including replacing the ball joint boot on both front tie rods.

Special tools required

You need a tool to remove the tie rod from the knuckle. Honda sells a tool to do this, but I used an aftermarket generic tool. Cost about $5.

You need a tool to drive the boot down into its seat on the ball joint. Honda sells a tool to do this, but I made one using PVC pipe. I found a pipe that was a little bit smaller than the seal ring. I cut off about five inches of it, then I cut slits into one end. I used pliers to fan out the slit end of the pipe until it was a perfect fit for the seal ring.

Parts required

You need the tie rod boot. Use a new one from Honda.


Cotter pin. (You should never re-use cotter pins, but I did because I didn't think ahead and buy a new one.)


The tie rod is easiest to access when the wheel is turned towards the side of the car you are working on. (In these pictures the brake lines, brake calipers, and brake rotors have been removed. That shouldn't be necessary for this job, but I was doing other work.)

The tie rod boot can be seen in the picture to the right. (Note the electrical tape on this one. Yuck.) (Notice also the way the cotter pin is folded. One tab over the top of the stud, the other over the nut. This is the way the Helm manual says to do it. I didn't do it this way, because I didn't read the Helm manual closely enough. When I put a replacement cotter pin in, I'll redo it the way it is shown in the picture.)

Remove the cotter pin.

Remove the nut. This requires a 19mm socket. I used an impact wrench.

After the nut has been removed, the tie rod will still be too tight to get out of the knuckle. Honda has a special tool for levering it out, but I used the tool pictured above. Follow the illustration in the Helm manual. Slide the forked part of the tool under the knuckle and get the other part over the tie rod stud. Then crank the screw until the tie rod pops free. [I've been told that it is a good idea to leave a nut loosely installed on the stud, in order to prevent possible damage to the threads in the area drilled for the cotter pin.] The screw on the tool I used had a 19mm head, so I just used my impact wrench again.

Remove the boot. (In the case of this broken one with tape around it, it was a greasy mess. The other one I did came off much cleaner.) Getting the boot off requires pliers and patience. I tried to cut the metal ring that seals the boot, but it was too tough to cut with cheap diagonal pliers.

Clean all the grease off of the exposed part of the ball joint. I had a grease injector and tried to drive the old grease out of the ball joint socket itself. I was partially successful. Otherwise, just wipe away as much of the old grease as possible and then pack it with new grease as shown in the Helm manual (around the ball and in the top of the boot).

Then put the new boot on. You will have to use a seal driver (homemade version shown above) to get the boot to properly seat. You will need an anvil to hammer against. I used a stack of concrete blocks with a piece of 2x4 on top so there was no metal-to-concrete contact. I used my PVC seal driver and a plastic dead-blow hammer.

Once the boot is seated, it would be a good time to apply a silicone protectant. I didn't (but will go back and do so). This may help keep you from having to do this job again.

Then slide the stud back into the knuckle. Be sure to line the cotter pin hole up so it faces parallel to the dust shield. You can install the cotter pin if you line the hole up the wrong way, but it's an avoidable pain.

Install the nut, tighten to the recommended torque (40 ft-lb, if I read the Helm manual correctly), and install the cotter pin per the Helm manual instructions. You are done.

I don't know if the car requires a new alignment, but it couldn't hurt. I was planning on doing one anyway.

The first one of these I did took about an hour (starting and ending with the wheel and brakes off as you see here). The next one took maybe 15 minutes. It's a steep learning curve.

Thanks to:

Thanks to Mom and Dad for the propane heater so my garage wasn't quite so cold. Also thanks to Ray ("RT") for the tip about his "mad rabbit tool", which is his name for the tie rod extractor tool pictured above. I got the idea for the seal driver off of a motorcycle website (via Google).

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