How to Replace a Tie Rod in a Mercury Cougarby Contributor
When you find that the steering of your Mercury Cougar is off, and doesn't resolve after an alignment, it may be time to change your tie rods. The tie rods connect the steering knuckle to the wheels, and when they're bent or damaged, it can throw your steering off. Fortunately, changing the tie rods is something you can do yourself.
Remove Tie Rod
Buy the right tie rods for your Mercury Cougar. These can vary from model year to model year.
Open the hood and disconnect the cable from the negative pole on the battery. Use a lug nut wrench to loosen the lug nuts on the front tires, then jack the Cougar up. Once you have your car supported on jack stands, remove the wheels.
Take out the front subframe as well as the rack and pinion steering gear. Secure the rack and pinion in place with a holding fixture.
Unscrew the outer tie rod, making sure you keep track of the number of turns, and then take off the jam nut on the outer tie rod.
Use a wrench to remove the outer clamp that connects the tie rod bellows to the tie rod's spindle.
Employ a wrench or a screwdriver to loosen the inner clamp enough so you can remove the tie rod's bellows, then move the rack and pinion so you can see some of the pinion's teeth.
Grasp the rack with a wrench as you use a pipe wrench to loosen the ball joint nut on the tie rod, then remove the tie rod.
Check over the rack and pinion to make sure you don't see any steering fluid leaks. If need be, you can replace the rack and pinion if the seals are leaking.
Replace the Tie Rod
Put in a new inner tie rod assembly, then turn the rack and pinion to secure it in place.
Grasp the rack with a wrench as you tighten the ball joint nut with a pipe wrench.
Place some grease on the bellow's lips, especially where is connects to the tie rod spindle. This frees the shaft to turn without obstruction or resistance.
Install the bellows and secure it in place with the inner clamp. Use a wrench to tighten the clamp.
Replace the outer clamp with a new one using needle-nosed pliers. Screw on the jam nut onto the spindle of the tie rod.
Add some grease to the outer tie rod threads and screw it on (the same number of turns it took to remove it). Repeat Section 1 and 2 for the other tie rod, then reinstall the rack and pinion back into the front subframe.
Reinstall the tires, and tighten the lug nuts to 27 to 35 foot pounds. Reattach the battery cable, then get your Mercury Cougar aligned.