How to Change Inner Tie Rods

by Don Bowman

The inner tie rods are the direct link from the rack and pinion steering to the spindle used for steering. When an inner tie rod on a rack and pinion steering wears, it becomes loose in its bore and free play will be evident in the spindle. This will allow the tire to move left and right on its own with no movement of the steering wheel. This is a common occurrence with mileage. It causes looseness in the steering, wear on the tires and, if left unattended, could eventually break loose releasing the wheel. This would allow the tire to swing uncontrollably in either direction.

Raise and support the vehicle on jack stands. Remove the wheel using the ½-inch air gun and socket. Remove the cotter pin in the outer tie rod stud using the wire cutters. Remove the outer tie rod nut with a wrench.

Loosen the lock nut on the outer tie rod shaft using a wrench. Remove the tie rod from the spindle by placing the forked end of the tie rod separator tool in between the spindle and the tie rod. Hit the tool with the hammer until the outer tie rod comes loose in its tapered hole in the spindle. Lift the tie rod out of spindle.

Turn the outer tie rod counterclockwise to remove from the shaft. Count the number of turns it takes to remove it from the shaft, as this will be important in installation. Make a note of the turns. The tie rod end will need to be installed on the new shaft the same number of turns for alignment purposes.

Remove the inner tie rod end boot by using the wire cutters and twisting and cutting the clamp holding it in place. Pull the boot off the shaft. Insert the proper-sized end of the inner tie rod remover into the tie rod remover tool. Use the inner tie rod remover to screw the inner tie rod off the rack.

Install the new inner tie rod by screwing it on the rack by hand as far as possible. Using the inner tie rod remover tool, turn the inner tie rod end clockwise until tight.

Push the inner tie rod boot on and place the large clamp around the inner part of the boot where it fits unto the rack. Use the wire cutters to pinch the end of the clamp to hold in place.

Run the lock nut on the tie rod shaft and screw it up to above the middle of the thread. Screw the outer tie rod on for the number of turns recorded when removed. Insert the tie rod into the hole in the spindle. Screw the nut on and tighten with a wrench. Install the cotter pin and tighten the lock nut against the outer tie rod end with a wrench.

Install the wheel with the ½-inch air gun and socket.

Items you will need

About the Author

Don Bowman has been writing for various websites and several online magazines since 2008. He has owned an auto service facility since 1982 and has over 45 years of technical experience as a master ASE tech. Bowman has a business degree from Pennsylvania State University and was an officer in the U.S. Army (aircraft maintenance officer, pilot, six Air Medal awards, two tours Vietnam).