How to Replace an Outer Tie End
The outer tie rod end causes the front wheels to turn back and forth as the steering wheel is turned by the driver. They pivot up, down, left, and right as your vehicle maneuvers, enduring extreme pressure while providing smooth and responsive steering.
The outer tie ends are an integral part of the steering system. With all this movement and stress, they will eventually wear beyond their limit. If an inspection reveals a worn tie rod end, you can replace it yourself. AutoZone has everything you need to do the job right.
How to Replace an Outer Tie End
Park your vehicle on a flat, dry surface and install wheel chocks. Wear appropriate gloves and safety goggles. Lift the car, place it on jack stands and remove the wheels for easy access.
Locate the Outer Tie Rod End
Locate the outer tie rod end. The ball with stud and locking nut attaches to the steering knuckle (spindle) next to the tire.
Locate the Inner Tie Rod End
Many newer cars are equipped with a Rack & Pinion (R&P) steering gear. The inner tie rod attaches to the rack gear and is protected by a dust boot. Other vehicles, like older cars, and many trucks and vans, use a long, heavy piece of metal called a center link.
Loosen the Jam Nut (R&P Type) or adjust Sleeve Nut (Center Link Type)
for R&P Type
The outer tie rod end threads onto the inner tie rod end and is held securely in place with a jam nut. Ensure the threads behind the nut are clean. Using a holding tool in one hand, secure the inner and outer tie rod ends while loosening the jam nut with a wrench in the other hand. Do not allow the ‘loosening pressure’ to put excessive pressure on the R&P. This may harm the gear or seal. Back the nut away and mark the position of the outer tie rod end with a small amount of paint. This will identify how far to thread the new tie rod end onto the inner tie rod.
OR for Center Link Type
The outer tie rod end screws into the tie rod adjusting sleeve. Loosen the adjusting sleeve locking clamp and nut that holds the outer tie rod end. Do not loosen the inner tie rod locking nut. You will likely need to apply penetrant to the adjusting sleeve and outer tie rod end threads. Allow to soak while performing the next steps. Mark the tie rod end position with a small amount of paint. This will identify how far to thread the new tie rod end into the adjusting sleeve.
Remove the Tie Rod End Nut
The outer end of the tie rod bolts to the steering knuckle (spindle). The locking nut must be removed. If equipped, remove the cotter pin and then the nut. Discard the cotter pin.
Detach the Outer Tie Rod End
Detach the outer tie rod end from the steering knuckle (spindle). Note: Loan-a-Tool provides a tie rod separator for your project. Your local AutoZone store will show you how to use the tool. Do not hammer on the tie rod end ball stud or the steering knuckle. Use the proper tool and procedures to avoid damaging the steering knuckle. Once detached, unscrew the outer tie rod end from the inner tie rod end or adjusting sleeve.
Install the new Tie Rod End
Thread the new tie rod end onto the inner tire rod end or into the tie rod adjusting sleeve. Position as close as possible to the original tie rods position. With the new rubber grease boot in place on the tie rod end, insert the threaded ball stud into the steering knuckle mounting hole. Install the locking nut and new cotter pin. Be sure and tighten the to the proper manufactures specification torque. This is important! If the nut loosens or the threads are damaged due to overtightening, the tie rod end could separate and cause an accident! So, be careful.
Note: Some new tie rod ends use self-locking nuts that do not incorporate a cotter pin. Either design will work.
Now, firmly tighten the jam nut or adjusting sleeve nut. Use both tools on the jam nut style just like beforehand to avoid damaging the R&P. If equipped, install the grease fitting. Use a grease lube gun and fill the new tie rod end with chassis lubricant. Do not over do it! Now is a good time to check and lubricate the other suspension and steering components.
Install Wheel and Lug Nuts
Install wheel and wheel nuts. Torque wheel nuts to owner manual specifications. Then, remove the tire jacks. Now is a good time to check the tire pressures.
Check your steering
Check the steering for smooth operation. The steering wheel should turn normally with no binding or catching. The steering wheel may be off – centered. This is due to the wheel alignment changes after the part installation.
Get an alignment
You should have a wheel alignment performed after your part is complete. This will ensure the tires will wear evenly. Be sure and rotate the tires as needed.
Pro Tip: You have made changes to the steering of your car. This means your wheel alignment is not aligned correctly. Take the vehicle to a front end alignment shop before you drive any distances. If you don’t, your vehicle will not steer correctly.
The outer tie ends are crucial to the steering and handling of your vehicle. If you notice any warning signs, stop by an AutoZone or have a service professional inspect your vehicle.