This item easily falls into the category of spare parts, the rubber boot being a cheap piece with a role that deserves attention. The cost of not replacing this cheap rubber boot could be higher because in time the drive shaft will fail and the cost will be 30 times higher.
Sometimes they warn you when changing tires that you have a broken rubber boot and that it should be changed. You can already consider yourself lucky, maybe it saved you a lot of money. There are others who ignore the beating sound or find out too late – maybe even when their car breaks down. So what is the risk?
What are the symptoms?
Of course there are signs which indicate when the rubber boot is “finished”, some of them are visible, whereas others can be heard from the inside of the car. The first signs can be seen on the wheel plastic guard, on the rim, on the tire, on the inner arm, on the elements of the braking system, or even where you parked the car like grease / grease stains. The stains remain even after you go to the car-wash or reappear, so it’s kind of hard to ignore.
When there is no more Vaseline in the rubber boot, you can hear the drive shaft spins without lubrication, metal on metal. In time, dirt, water, salt from the road will get in and the drive shaft will fail and you must replace it.
In this case, you can no longer drive the car because one of the drive shafts gears is no longer connected to the wheel. You must tow the car in order to be replaced!
What is the rubber boot on the planet?
As a construction is a piece of rubber, plastic or newer silicone. Its role is to seal the drive shaft head from dirt / moisture and at the same time to ensure the lubrication of the drive shaft head. A drive shaft gear consists of a shaft with two ends and a rubber boot mounted on each end. On single-axle cars you will find two drive shaft gears and on 4 × 4s you will find 4 drive shaft gears, one for each wheel.
There are several reasons why a rubber boot is destroyed:
- The rubber “bakes” over time
- Because of the stones that hits the rubber boot it cuts / breaks it
- Due to overload on corners it breaks
- Too long operating period
- The manufacturing material is of poor quality
- Improper mounting of the collar – detaches from the rubber boot
- Maximum extent until it detaches from the planetary head
What is the exchange interval and when should it be checked?
I also heard from some that they didn’t change the bellows even after 300,000 km and that it was “still working”, but here we have to take in consideration the operating conditions and the condition of the road. We cannot compare one example with another, but for countries with bad roads the exchange period falls between 100.000 and 200,000 km, there are also cases in which the exchange was made even after 10.000 km. There are many factors to consider here. Check their condition every time you arrive by car in repair shop / tire shop. You can also do this in the parking lot – turning the wheels to the maximum in one direction and then in the other, so you can inspect the situation.
How much does it cost, how long does it take and who are the producers?
As I said above, the purchase costs for a rubber boot are quite low. The kit contains the rubber boot, vaseline, nut and clamps and the price starts from 5 € and goes up to 50 € . This is a cheep part if we compare the cost of a drive shaft that starts from 100 € and can reach up to 600 € . You have to make an appointment at the auto repair shop, maybe even leave the car all day if you need to change the rubber boot from the gearbox.
Our recommendation is to choose a better quality bellows, so you can avoid frequent repairs. The best known manufacturers are SPIDAN, SASIC, NTN, FEBI, SWAG, TOPRAN, LOBRO.