Vanagon – steering arm boot and radius arm sleeve

It all started so easily, replacing a torn steering arm boot (same boot in all Vanagons).

I figured if I removed the ball joint end of the arm from the steering knuckle I could pull the boot off over it and and not change the arm adjustment (toe in). Out to the ball joint at that end, castellated nut with cotter pin.

I pulled the cotter pin and unscrewed the nut, then screwed the nut back on backwards to protect the threaded end, gave the steering knuckle around the ball joint a couple of good raps with a heavy hammer, then rapped upwards on the nut and the joint popped free. Nice when it happens so easily.

The boot was held on by 2 metal clamps (Oetker?) and I snipped the crimped part with some wire cutters and then pulled the boot out towards the ball joint.

That rubber doughnut on the arm locates the outboard end of the boot. The new (well, used one I had in my parts bin) went over the ball joint and up to the rack. Oh, I did put a bit of grease on the exposed ball joint on the inboard end of the steering rack. I used cable ties to secure the boot the the rack and the rubber doughnut.

Now the interesting part, while under the van I decided to have a look at that side’s radius arm rubber bushing and inner sleeve. These parts do wear out, and the sleeve rusts. I undid the drop link from the sway bar to the radius arm, the 19 mm nut at the out board end of the radius arm (inner bolt not touched, to keep the castor unaffected), and the 3 X 19mm bolts that holds the radius arm to the steering knuckle. As suspected, the sleeve was badly rusted and the bushings shot. The subframe hole also was rusty, but still sound underneath. Pretty well the same set up in 2wd Vanagons, its just that the syncro has that front subframe. Neil has a great write up on fixing his damaged radius rod mount on a 2wd Vanagon.

So I have to get new bushings, but right now I decided to make a new sleeve. The dimensions of the sleeve (found on this Samba thread) are: 56 mm long, 25 mm OD, 19mm ID. I did not have any pipe that was close to those dimensions but I had some stainless steel shafting from the scrap yard. It’s not the most efficient way of making a sleeve I admit.


I could have made a few pot scrubbers with the swarf. The finished sleeve beside the rusty one (btw, the stock sleeve looks like welded tube, and only rusty on the outside).

I slathered everything with a homemade Waxoyl concoction and put it all back together. I’ll order some new bushings.


  1. #1 by edbee on September 20, 2011 - 12:23 am

    Your radius rod sleeves were almost pristine compared to mine: although not sure how much longer that link will work

    Sure would love to have a lathe! Once we move in a year or so at least I’ll have room for one. I am a journeyman machinist but haven’t work directly in that trade since I was 24 years old (long time ago!)

    • #2 by albell on September 20, 2011 - 7:05 am

      Did you notice, as I did, that the rust was mostly between the sleeve and the bushing and not between the sleeve and the rod? Hold on, your sleeve has rusted right trough in the middle.

      I have a lathe but no training, you have the training but no lathe – proof that god does exist 🙂


  2. #3 by albell on September 19, 2011 - 11:01 pm


    you should do a quick search for upper control arm bushings on the Samba. I seem to recall a thread with complaints etc about the quality of replacement bushes.

    Here is the link



  1. Vanagon – steering arm boot and radius arm sleeve « 1985 VW Vanagon

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