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Old 07-31-2006, 12:16 AM
mad1's Avatar
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Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Toronto, Canada
Posts: 59
WRITEUP - Tie Rod Assembly Replacement

This is a writeup on how I replaced my front left and right tie rod assemblies. Please feel free to criticize/improve - this was the second time I ever got under a car.


Tools Required:

Jack Stands - $20-60 for 2
Jack - $30+
Liquid Wrench/PB Blaster/equivalent - $5-10
Torque Wrench - $20-200
Breaker Bar - $20-30
metric sockets - 10mm, 17mm - $20-30 set
metric wrenches - 12mm, 17mm, 19mm - $20-200 set
Wheel wrench - could also use 17mm socket - stock
Tie rod ball joint removal tool (I used fork type, MB sells puller type) - rent/borrow


Parts required:
Tie rod assembly - left and/or right, depending on what needs replacing - $50+ at stealer

Self locking hex nut for tie rod assembly - 2 per tie rod assembly. If you order from the stealer, they should know to give you the nuts anyway (pun intended) - $2 each at stealer








DO YOUR TIE RODS NEED REPLACING?

1. Jack up the front of the car.
2. Hold a front wheel at 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock and try to move it, pushing with one hand, pulling with the other.
3. If the wheel moves significantly (mine moved about an inch), the tie rod balljoints are worn.
4. Don't forget to test both wheels.
5. There could be other symptoms, this is only what my mech showed me.








IDENTIFYING THE TIE RODS
This is a picture of the right tie rod assembly. It is as seen from under the car. A is the inner tie rod end. B is the outer tie rod end. C is the tie rod. A,B and C combined are the tie rod assembly. We'll get to the other letters later.



Here is another picture of the right tie rod assembly, as seen from the wheel well












REPLACING TIE RODS
I will describe how to do the the right tie rod assembly, for the left, it's the same method.

1. Chock the back wheels, apply the parking brake and jack up the front of the car. Use jack stands on both sides.



2. Remove the right front wheel.

3. Remove the engine cover on the underside of the car. You'll need the 10mm socket. There are six nuts to undo, nothing complicated here.

3. Spray penetrating oil on the two self-locking hex nuts D (see pic). Remember, there are two self-locking hex nuts, one for each tie rod end. The inner one faces downwards and the outer one faces upwards. Go have a coffee/nap/vacation.

4. Return from vacation/nap/coffee and bring out the breaker bar. Using the 17mm socket, break loose the hex nuts and then remove them completely.

5. Bring out the tie rod ball joint removal tool.

Remember the hex nuts you just unscrewed? Insert the fork on the other side of the tie rod balljoint - do the outer one first as it's easier.


The yellow drawing in the above pic shows where the fork should go. The balljoint should be centered in the fork. Insert the fork as far as it will go by hand.

6. Now hammer the fork deep into the joint. The idea is to get the balljoint to pop out of its hole. The deeper the fork goes, the more the balljoint separates. Eventually, after a couple of minutes of hammering, the balljoint will separate.

7. Now, separate the inner tie rod balljoint, using the fork. It's a little harder here because you have to take care not to wedge the hammering end of the fork against the subframe else you won't make much hammering progress. So insert the fork into the balljoint (again, on the opposite side from the hex nut), and rotate the fork for the best clearance. Hammer away, and the old tie rod is now completely out.

8. Bring out the new tie rod. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THE CORRECT TIE ROD FOR THE SIDE YOU'RE WORKING ON. Now, you need to get it to be the same length as the old one.

9. If you look at the new tie rod, you'll see that the ends are threaded into the rod. You adjust the tie rod length by rotating the ends so they thread into or out of the rod, as required.

10. One thing you could do is to measure the length of the old tie rod assembly , balljoint center to balljoint center and get the new tie rod assembly to the same length. Or, you could count the number of exposed threads on each end. Whatever rocks your boat. You should really get an alignment done anyway, although some claim that you don't need to, if you measure properly.

11. Once you're done measuring, look for the clamp on the inner end and a hex clamping ring on the outer end (E and F in the tie rod pic). Just moderately finger tighten them for now.

12. You have now finished preparing the new tierod and can now start to install it. Before installing, CLEAN the mounting areas thoroughly - no grease or dust is to remain there.

13. Insert the inner end of the tie rod into its mounting hole (basically where you took it out of). Since the inner tie rod end points downward, you'll need to insert it from above. Now, insert the outer end into its mounting hole, UPWARDS, from below. This is just as you found it, so it's really pretty simple. This is why I asked you to only finger tighten the clamps, so you can rotate the ends a bit to get the proper angle. Try not to, but if you have to, wiggle the wheel a bit to get the tie rod end to fit in.

14. Now, tighten the clamping nut and ring (E and F in the pic above). You'll need to use a torque wrench to tighten these. The inner clamp nut (E) should be tightened to 15 lbf (pounds-feet) and the outer (F) to 37 lbf. DO NOT OVERTORQUE.

15. Now, put the NEW self-locking hex nuts (D) on the tie rod ends and tighten. Torque them to 26 lbf.

16. Replace the right wheel, rinse and repeat with the left side.

17. Replace the engine underside cover.

18. Really, do go get an alignment.


As usual, the above is given only as an opinion - I'm no expert. Use at your own risk, assume your own responsibility, $hit happens, etc. etc.....
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Old 07-31-2006, 09:21 AM
Sportlines
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Johnson City, TN
Posts: 985
Good for you, and very nice write up.

I have two comments.

Not a good idea to crawl under a car that is jacked up with the factory jack that is standing on a brick. I see the jack stand, but if you intend to do any more under the car wrenching you need to invest in a proper floor jack. You method just looks unsafe.

My last comment is that with the propler ball joint tool, not pickle fork, removal of tie rods is as simple at take off the nuts, fit the tool, turn the
bolt and pop, off they come. Hammering a pickle fork while laying on your back is simply too tough.

Now what is you next project?

Steve
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Old 07-31-2006, 09:42 AM
mad1's Avatar
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Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Toronto, Canada
Posts: 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by softconsult
Good for you, and very nice write up.
Thanks!

Quote:
Not a good idea to crawl under a car that is jacked up with the factory jack that is standing on a brick. I see the jack stand, but if you intend to do any more under the car wrenching you need to invest in a proper floor jack. You method just looks unsafe.
I used the car jack as backup for the jack stand. It's not obvious from the pic, but the jack stand is supporting all the weight. The car jack is just there for backup. I move the car jack to whichever side I'm working on, just to be as safe as I can. In any case, a floor jack is on my shopping list.

Quote:
My last comment is that with the propler ball joint tool, not pickle fork, removal of tie rods is as simple at take off the nuts, fit the tool, turn the
bolt and pop, off they come. Hammering a pickle fork while laying on your back is simply too tough.
Yup it was tough, but that's all the local parts stores had to loan.

Quote:
Now what is you next project?

In a few weeks, rear thrust arm replacement and getting the A/C working - I recently took delivery of a compressor.
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