Changing Inner And Outer Tie Rods

This thread is aimed at those of you who always wanted to learn how to change both inner and outer tie rods, but were too afraid to try it on your own. Pokey and I ran this job in about two and one half hours today while taking pictures. It turns out, I had been hearing rattling coming from the front end for a few weeks, and this is why:

This is the driver's side tie rod. Since the car has >224K miles on it, I thought it prudent to go ahead and replace the inner tie rods as well; ymmv.

The usual disclaimer applies - I am not responsible for any damage you might do to your car or yourself in following these directions.

1. Loosen the lug bolts on both front tires.

2. Place the front end of the car on jackstands.
In the pix above, you can see that I have the jackstand positioned on a jackpad that I previously installed on the car.

3. Remove the tires/wheels and set them aside and out of your work area.

Once that is complete, turn the wheel all the way to the left. That will extend the rack all the way on the passenger's side.

Starting with the passenger side first:
4. Using a pair of pliers, remove the clamp on the smaller end of the rubber bellows covering the inner tie rod and slide it down towards the outer tie rod.

5. Remove the "clamp -o- doom" on the larger (inner) end of the rubber bellows; I used a screwdriver to blossom out the pinched part, and then worked the end off until the clamp released.

6. Loosen the nut where the outer tie rod connects to the inner tie rod - you have to hold the inner tie rod while doing so.

7. Pull the bellows out of the way so you can get at the innermost portion of the inner tie rod. Once the bellows is pulled back, use a large adjustable wrench to loosen the large nut on the inner tie rod.

8. Once step 7 (above) is complete, remove the outer tie rod by first removing the pinch bolt through it (16 mm), and then almost completely loosen the upper bolt (13 mm).

9. Once the upper bolt in the outer tie rod is loosened most of the way, use a hammer on the bolt to drive the outer tie rod out of the steering knuckle.

10. Remove the upper bolt, and then drive it the rest of the way out by inserting a large allen wrench into the top of the tie rod stem and tapping it.

11. Once the outer tie rod is freed from the steering knuckle, remove the tie rods as a set.

12. Measure the length of the two tie rods as they are connected together. Adjust the new tie rods to this length. This is to get the alignment close enough so you can drive the car, if necessary, without incurring too much tire wear until you can get the front wheels aligned on a proper alignment rack.

13. Remove the bellows from the old tie rod, as well as the small clamp - then install them on the new tie rods. Don't forget to put some anti-seize compound on the threads of the outer tie rod before you connect the two tie rods together.

14. Screw the new tie rods into the steering rack and tighten the large nut on the inner tie rod at the rack.

15. Pop the bellows over the fitting on the rack, and secure it in place either using a new "clamp -0- doom" or use cable ties.

16. Fasten the smaller clamp onto the small end of the bellows.

17. Reinstall the outer tie rod end ball joint into the steering knuckle and tighten.

The passenger side is complete, once you reinstall the wheel, and torque it down to spec (89 ft lbs).

The driver's side is a little different. The bellows is fully extended since the rack actually sticks out on that side, and an access panel is visible there. Turn the wheel all the way to the right this time.

18. Remove the access panel by first removing the 10 mm nut on the after section of the wheelwell, and then popping lose the two plastic grommets on the forward section of the panel. The grommets will be behind the suspension spring, so a screwdriver is likely to be required - slide it up under the bottom of the panel to pop the grommets loose. Take your time with the grommets, as they will likely break if you do not. Collect them for later use when you put the panel back in place.

The 10 mm nut is visible mid-right on this pix:

The grommets are behind the suspension spring in this pix:

19. Slide the panel back onto the steering knuckle, and out of the way.

20. Proceed the same as the other side - the only difference is, the rubber bellows is fully extended to cover the portion of the rack that extends on this side.


Showing the bellows fully pulled back:

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