Auto PartsTech Tips

Replacing Tie Rods

As you know from my last post, my car failed inspection due to excessive play in the front end, which I later traced to the tie rods. So, I decided to spend the rest of the weekend fixing the problem. I was able to locate a set of new inner tie rods, so I spent the day Sunday replacing the parts.

First, I had to raise the front end of the car on jackstands, remove the lugs and then the front wheels. Once the wheels were off, it was fairly easy to access everything. I used a bit of paint to mark the tie rod ends‘ relative position to the tie rod, so as to ballpark the alignment upon reassembly. Then, I had to loosen the lock nut securing the outer tie rod ends to the inner tie rods. Of course, that was easier said than done. The lock nuts were frozen in place, and I needed to heat them up a bit with a torch before they’d budge. From there, I removed the cotter pin holding the castle nut to the outer tie rod end, and then press the tie rod ends out of the steering knuckles with a tie rod end separator.

At that point, I removed tie rod end and lock nut and set them aside. Then, I pulled the steering rack boot, exposing the inner tie rod. From there, a borrowed inner tie rod tool made short work of unthreading the tie rod from the steering rack. Once it was off the car, I put the new inner tie rod side by side with the old one and made a similar paint mark on the new one. Of course, given all the play in the old rod, the paint mark on the new part would only help to roughly align the car.

From there, I reversed the process and reassembled everything, making sure to torque the new inner rod and outer tie rod properly. So, the car is back together. However, there was so much play in the old inner tie rods that the paint marks I made to preserve the old alignment weren’t much good. Due to the uncertainty introduced by that play, I’ll need to take the car for an a

lignment in the next day or so. I don’t want to introduce a situation where I’ll have unsafe handling or uneven tire wear.

In all, it wasn’t too bad a DIY job. The important things to keep in mind when doing this job are torque specifications, having the proper tools on hand, and as always, making sure to support the car properly with jackstands.

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