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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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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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