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2004 Sienna CE 97k miles
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
at first i thought it was the outer cv boot, but I guess not. is it possible to just replace it w/o take out a bunch of stuff, maybe using a split boot kit?
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2009 Sienna LE
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I'm not real familiar with that, but here are some quick thoughts: I think that's the power steering boot. I think the reason that happens is that the seals in the rack and pinion fail, power steering fluid escapes into the boot, and then the boot ruptures under the additional pressure. Depending on how bad the leak is, I think you might be able to add power steering fluid from time to time. The fix would be replacing the rack and pinion.

Again, I'm not real familiar with this, so I'm sure others will have better advice. Just wanted to post something in case you're stratching your head!
 

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Second Gen Sienna have a known issue with rack and pinion seals... they leak on the passenger side and the fluid gets collected by the boot. I think it most often fails on the bottom or at least lower half of the boot. Lots of posts about it on various sites. I have to deal with mine in the near future. Some people have had success adding a specific type of power steering fluid (I don't recall the type) that keeps it from leaking at the seals. Others have purchased refurbished rack and pinion parts. Again, lots of posts about it.. But once the boot is damaged, it has to be replaced. Please let us know how you proceed and the outcome.
 

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Yes, some have had success replacing the boot and flushing the power steering system with Dexron 3 transmission fluid.
 

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Valvoline MaxLife Dex/Merc is the ATF you want. It has seal conditioner in it. Flush the old fluid out and replace with it instead.
The rack boot is not difficult to replace. I have done it on mine. The secret to doing the replacement without having to get an alignment done afterward is to count the exact number of turns it takes to remove the tie rod end and reinstall it using the exact same number of turns. The new one has been on mine for about 4 years and shows no signs of deterioration, so I consider the problem as being solved. There are YouTube videos on this.
 

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You can also try Lucas power steering stop leak. Its not junky snake oil and at about $12 for a bottle its a lot cheaper than replacing the rack. Obviously the boot still needs to be replaced but I have used the Lucas and it worked.
 

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There is ALSO a technique to replace the boot without removing the outer tie rod. It's called something like the glove technique or some such. Basically, you disconnect the tie rod from the knuckle, wrap the outer tie rod ball joint with a nitrile glove (or a sandwich bag or whatever), smear a ton of grease all over the glove and then use the stretch of the new boot combined with the lubricating power of the grease and just pull it over the end of the outer tie rod. And, yes, it happens due to a leaking rack. Sometimes, fresh fluid will slow/stop the leak. Sometimes, a stop-leak product will do it. If not, the new boot will survive for maybe 2 years before it fails again. If your inner and/or outer tie rods have a lot of play, they are probably fairly worn, you'd probably be better off replacing the whole rack (which comes with inner tie rods and boots already installed and sometimes includes outer tie rods). If the joints are tight but not seized, I'd probably just replace the boot and keep topping off the fluid for a year or two. Oh, and paying someone to replace the rack, from estimates I've seen here, range from about $1200 to $2500. If you DIY, Rack Doctor has Gen 2 racks for $307 (including outer tie rods) and then you'd want to get an alignment afterwards.
 

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2004 Sienna CE 97k miles
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
thanks for all the info. any idea how much new fluid is needed after flushing? wanted to try the Lucas stop leak, I remember it got pretty good reviews by Scotty Kilmer although it was a different product( Lucas ATF additive). $19 for 32 oz on Amazon. is that enough ?
 

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thanks for all the info. any idea how much new fluid is needed after flushing? wanted to try the Lucas stop leak, I remember it got pretty good reviews by Scotty Kilmer although it was a different product( Lucas ATF additive). $19 for 32 oz on Amazon. is that enough ?
I have a bottle of DEXRON III ATF sitting on the shelf. I added a tiny bit on 3 different occasions and did a turkey-baster partial swap twice. There's still plenty left in there. Part of me wants to pull the reservoir, clean it out thoroughly, and rig up a power flush of sorts, dumping the return into an empty container and the feed drawing from a fresh, clean supply, but I haven't done that yet. If I ever get around to replacing the rack, I'd probably do that first.
 
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