If your inner or outer tie rod ends have started to wear, these excellent do-it-yourself steps and tips will help you replace them on your own. These steps can be generic and so you may need to adjust depending on your vehicle.
- Step one: Gather your tools. There are a few tools you will need to replace your tie rod ends. These include a torque wrench, a ratchet, 22” and 24” sockets, pliers, a flat-head screwdriver, wire cutters, 27” and 32” open-ended wrenches, a crescent wrench, Loctite for threads, a hammer and chisel or punch.
- Step Two: Removing outer tie rod end. Once you have gotten your vehicle jacked up and removed your wheel, you will see your outer tie rod end, and the inner tie rod end will be covered by the tie rod bellow. First of all, if you leave your keys in the ignition of your vehicle then this will allow you to move the wheel assembly freely. Start off by loosening the jam nut that is connecting the outer tie rod end to the inner tie rod end. You will need to use the 27” open ended wrench for the nut and the crescent wrench for the inner tie rod to hold it in place. The jam nut will most likely not come off so you will probably have to wait to take it off with the rest of the outer tie rod. So after loosening the jam nut, go ahead and move on to the castle nut. You will first have to remove the cotter pin using your pliers or a pick tool, keeping it flat and level. Once you’ve removed it, take the castle nut off. By this point you should be able to knock the tie rod end out of the steering knuckle with your hammer. Now that it is out of the knuckle, loosen it from the inner tie rod end and count the turns to help keep your alignment.
- Step Three: Removing inner tie rod end. In order to remove the inner tie rod end, you must first remove the bellow by taking off the bellow clamps. Pull on the tabs of the inner clamp first to pop it loose, then twist the boot. Proceed to the second clamp and remove it by using the pliers to pull it off. When pulling the boot off, you will most likely damage the seal, so be ready to replace that as well. You should now see your inner tie rod, and the tabs around it. Simply knock the tabs back, and loosen the tie rod. You should be able to unscrew it by hand after this.
- Step Four: Installing new inner tie rod end. Before installing the new inner tie rod end, be sure to add the Loctite to keep it from loosening after installation. The washer that comes with the new tie rod end has tabs that holds the rod in place while installing it. Go ahead and line the tabs up with the grooves on the rack of your vehicle and then tighten your inner tie rod end onto it. Now use the hammer to stake the washer into the tie rod, you can turn the wheel to push the rack and rod out, allowing you more room for the hammer. Stake the washer on both sides, and then install the new bellow or, if the old bellow is still in good condition, install the old one. Push the bellow into the groove and then install your inner boot clamps to hold the bellow in place. If the clamp is loose, squeeze it together to tighten it to its proper tightness.
- Step Four: Installing new outer tie rod end. When installing the new outer tie rod, screw the jam nut onto it to where the jam nut is or was located on the old outer tie rod. Recall the amount of turns it took to unscrew the old outer tie rod end from the inner, and proceed to do that many to screw the new one on. Once you get it to where you want it, take the new castle nut off, insert outer tie rod into the knuckle, and then reinstall the castle nut. Now you will use the torque wrench to tighten it, do this by pulling the wheel assembly all the way out to make it easier to tighten. Make sure to line up your castle nut with the hole in the thread for your cotter pin. Never loosen to line up the holes. Insert your cotter pin and bend the pin with the wire cutters. Finally, tighten the jam nut onto the inner outer tie rod end.
Once you have followed these steps, replacing your tie rod ends should be the money saving success you were hoping for. Remember to properly torque and lock all fasteners, and then have a professional do an alignment as soon as possible after your tie rod end replacement.