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Discussion Starter #1
2005 Elise
I noticed the rubber boots (dust covers) on my front ball joints and tie rod ends are splitting. However, I can't find a place to buy just the boots (I don't want to buy the whole joint or end just to get the boot).

Does anyone know where to get the rubber boots for ball joint and steering tie rod ends for the Elise?

Also, is it feasible to replace the ball joint boots without removing the ball joint? The large end of the boot is recessed in the wishbone, so I can't tell if I can realistically replace the boot with the ball joint in place.

I tried the usual Elise parts stores (lotusgarage, sector 111, eliseparts, eliseshop, blackwatchracing, boefabrication), and none of them have this. The lotus parts list doesn't have them as a separate item.

In another thread, I saw that our ball joints are the same as the front lower ball joint on a 1987 Chevrolet Chevette, so I tried searching for boots for that online at autoparts stores (NAPA, O'Reilly and Autozone), but no luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
I have found a manufacturer of universal boots, but naturally the Elise is not in their standard application guide. But, if I had the dimensions of our joints, they may have one that fits.

Does anyone have a stock ball joint and a stock tie-rod end lying around, and could measure the appropriate dimensions with some calipers? The link to the measurement page is:
energysuspension.com | Tie Rod End Dust Boots

I also found out that in addition to sharing our ball joints with the front lower joint of a 1976-87 Chevrolet Chevette, it also the same as a 1984-87 Pontiac Fiero. A Fiero search seems to bring up more options - it is the more popular car now.

Does anyone know what cars we share or tie-rod ends with?

The stock boots are imprinted with some part numbers, but I wasn't able to find them doing a Google search. Does anyone know how these numbers might help?
Tie Rod End: LRW-16 21-100-06​
Ball Joint Boots:
Front Lower Left: LRW-7 21-300-06
Front Upper Left: LRW-8 (hidden behind the steering arm - guessing 21-300-06)
Front Lower Right: LRW-7 21-300-06
Front Upper Right: LRW-14 21-300-06​
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Ball joint boot repair

My track rod (steering) ball joint boots were split. I removed them, cleaned out the old grease, cleaned the interior and exterior with an alcohol solvent to remove any grease film, then patched it with Toyota FIPG (Form In Place Gasket), the same stuff you use to seal oil pans to the engine block. I let it cure for about 14 hours, then installed it with new grease. It seems to work fine.

I smeared the FIPG on thick, principally on the inside surface, but I worked some into the split and on the outside surface. For curing and final application, I compressed the boot into the shape that it will have when installed. This will alleviate stress on the cured FIPG when installed, as it will cure in the proper shape. You just have to make sure that you aren't gluing it together in the compressed shape (i.e., that you can still expand it after curing in order to pack it with grease.

Make sure you clean out the old grease from the joint, apply new grease to the joint, and work in the new grease as best you can before install the boot. You should use a quality high pressure grease designed for suspension use.

Pack the boot about halfway full of new grease when in its uncompressed form. When installing the boot, the excess grease and air needs to come out. I used a small jeweler's screwdriver inserted into the wide end of the boot to create a break in the seal, and pushed the boot onto the shaft and compressed it up the shaft by hand to squeeze out the excess air and grease through the break in the seal. Then install the shaft back to the steering arm and torque it down.

I recall seeing another thread somewhere where the author used a thin piece of rubber from an inner tube kit to patch the inside of the boot. This seems like a good idea, and should work well with the FIPG (which is better than regular RTV or rubber cement). I just didn't have a patch kit at the time.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Track Rod (Steering tie-rod) boot measurements and replacement

I was unable to find track rod end boots specified for the Elise online. While I was repairing my steering track rod (tie-rod) boots, I also measured the track rod end joint shaft and base so that I could find universal boots that would fit.

Boot information stamped on stock boots:
Track Rod: LRW-16 21-100-06

Joint Measurements:
Track rod end has a shaft (the narrow end of the boot), and a base, which has a slot in it.
Shaft Diameter: 13 mm
Base diameter: 32.25 (boot slips over this)
Inside slot diameter: 30 mm (helps hold the boot in place)
Above base: 34.8 mm (boot does not slip over this)

Measurements of original Track Rod end boot:
Shaft hole diameter: 11 mm
Large end diameter 30 mm
When boot is open and uncompressed:
widest outside diameter: 41 mm (upper middle of boot, not the holes.
length: 23 mm​

The shaft and base diameters of the boot should be slightly smaller than the metal diameters so as to get a good seal. The boot will stretch to fit.

I found a multiple sources of universal boots, where you pick the boot according to the small (shaft) and wide (base) diameters. In the US, the two top contenders are the Energy Suspension brand and the Prothane brand, which sell polyurethane boots. There is also a UK brand, Slide-A-Boot, which sells rubber boots that look very much like the original. I also looked at Dorman boots, but they didn't have any that fit. Daystar sells polyurethane boots, but they don't list the measurements (they just use an application guide by car year, make and model).

Energy Suspension and Prothane look like they sell the same boot (sizes are the same). The Energy Suspension and Prothane boot dimensions are 12 mm and 30.5 mm, which matches well to our track rod ends (and the original boot). Energy Suspension sells them in black or red, and round or octagon shapes.

Supplier links:
energysuspension.com | Tie Rod End Dust Boots
Product Number: 9.13103 (round) or 9.13104 (octagon)

http://prothane.com/images/prothane_catalog_12.pdf
See page 11 near the bottom. Product number 97-1711

Ball Joint Boots
The "small" size should fit well, and looks like the original stock boot.

You can buy these parts from other online retailers, such as:
Energy Suspension Tie Rod Boots & Ball Joint Boots - JEGS
Tie Rod Boot | AutoZone.com
Amazon.com: rod boot: Automotive

Suspension Restoration Parts Co. - Polyurethane ball joint boots and tie-rod boots. (sells above Energy Suspension products, but has extra info)

You can get a two pack for $4-$5 before shipping costs.

Disclaimer: I HAVE NOT TRIED THESE, SO CAN'T CONFIRM THEY REALLY WORK. But, I thought it was worth reporting the information. Does anyone want to try any of these boots and report back? It is a very small cost.
 

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Rod ends don't normally use boots, especially in teflon lined, but they are available.
There is a company making two piece retrofit boots for repair use too.

I can't recall brands now.
Check racing supply companies.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Rod ends don't normally use boots...
The Elise stock steering track/tie rod ends use boots (as does every other car I have ever owned). The boot can be seen in the attached picture.

Also, for anyone trying to pop the track rod end shaft from the steering arm, the tool shown in the picture worked out best for me. I have a set of 5 types of ball joint tools, and tried a few of them that looked close in size. You do have to gently tap this one in place with a hammer.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Ball Joint Universal Boots

Like the steering track-rod end boots, I could not find replacement boots for the ball joints. So, I took measurements as best I could with the ball joint in place, and looked up the matching boot from the same sources described in post 4 above.

Measurements:
The ball joint has a shaft (the narrow end of the boot), and a base, which has a groove in it, just like the track rod end does.

Shaft Diameter: 16.2 mm (where boot goes. The shaft has a step as it gets closer to the joint, but the boot doesn't go there.)

Above base diameter: 40.4 mm (ball joint was in place, but measured the outer diameter of the wishbone housing for the ball joint, 56.1 mm, then measured the distance from the outer part of the wishbone to the base through an existing hole, 7.85 mm, and computed the base diameter.)

Base diameter: 40.4 mm estimated (couldn't measure it directly because the boot was still on, but measured the diameter above the groove, and it looked like they were the same, unlike the track rod end base.)

Inside groove diameter: 38.2 mm (estimated based on track rod end groove depth, and probing at the top edge of the boot into the groove)

Boot sources:
See the links for part sources in post 4. They are listed as tie rod end boots, but it will work for ball joints if the size is right.

The best fitting Energy Suspension part is 9.13105 for round and 9.13106 for octagon shaped. They have a minimum shaft diameter of 14 mm and a minimum large end diameters of 36.5 mm. It should stretch to fit (may need to use a small screwdriver to help stretch the large end into position. The next larger size looks slightly too large, although given how cheap they are, you might order both sizes for the first one you change

Prothane: 19-1713 looks best. It is a little on the small size (must stretch to fit), but the next larger size (19-1714) looks to be slightly too big, although given how cheap they are, you might order both sizes for the first one you change.

Slide-a-Boot: The "Large" size looks best.

Disclaimer: Like the track-rod boots in the earlier post, I have not actually tried these. I am just posting the measurements and the sources that I have found. Replacing boots is a lot cheaper and easier than replacing ball joints.
 

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I just replaced a ballpoint on my Elise. They are the same ball joint that fit a Chevy chevette and a Pontiac fireo.

From what I saw, it is probably as easy to replace the ball joint as it would be to do just the dust cap. Double true if you have access to a press, (thanks Randy).
 
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