- Difficulty Level:
So, it was a nice day, decided to sort out my inner tie rod ends. I replaced my outer ones a few months ago as their boots had cracked and there was a slight knocking coming from the car whenever I pulled away from a standstill with the wheel turned to the right only. Anyway, I narrowed it down to the inner tie rod ends after checking everything else and decided that I would change these at some point. This is mainly about the inner tie rods (I decided to change both inner tie rods as they have done the same amount of work and I feel better changing things like this in pairs - old habits die hard etc), however to remove the inner tie rod, you obviously need to remove the outer one first. The outer and inner tie rods are OEM. I appreciate this is a Honda forum, but this, in my experience, is pretty much the same on the vast majority of cars.
You do not need to remove the steering rack to replace these items, there is more than enough room if you turn the steering rack to full extension.
- 17mm socket
- 14, 17 and 19 mm open wrench
- Adjustable spanner
- Loctite (medium strength which is blue)
- Flat head screwdriver
- Circular clips (or cable ties as a short term solution but I wouldn't recommend it long term personally)
- Copper Grease
- Pliers (long nosed and snub)
- Stilson wrench (not essential - for getting a difficult clip off)
- Replacement cotter pins (can buy from halford for a few quid)
+/- 1 hour
Jack up the complete front of the car, not just the side you are working on. This is so that you can turn the wheel from the hub assembly to give you access to the inner tie rod. I worked on one side at a time, even though both were lifted off the floor and supported on axle stands. Take wheel off,etc etc, and remove the cotter pin from the wheel knuckle assembly which holds the outer tie rod on and loosen the castle nut (17mm socket) but keep it on the thread. Stops the tie rod from flinging up in your face when it finally pops loose.
Loosen the securing nut on the shaft which holds the outer tie rod end. This is the nut (19mm) which a wheel alignment centre loosens to adjust your alignment. Just crack it loose. You don't have to do it now, but they are normally on tight so it makes sense to use the cars weight against itself to help break it loose.
With the cotter pin already removed (ideally, replace it with a new one when you reassemble), you now need to loosen the outer tie rod from the wheel knuckle assembly. DO NOT hit the tie rod (unless it is shot and you are replacing it, even then, I wouldn't personally), DO NOT hit the bolt of the outer tie rod etc. I was always taught to hit what the object goes through, not the object itself, so get your hammer and strike the knuckle:
This should pop out, you will know when you have broken it loose from the knuckle assembly. May need to give it a good few whacks, but it will pop itself loose.
Either way, now grab your 14mm spanner, attach it to the inner tie rod shaft (which also is what the nut is attached to), and grab your 19mm and put it on the slot on the outer tie rod.
Now just turn the outer tie rod anti clockwise and count the amount of turns it takes for the outer tie rod to come off. You should be able to turn this by hand once you have broken its hold on the inner tie rod shaft. On my car, it was 20 complete turns on both sides. This also helps you to remember how many turns to put it back on with. If you are using OEM parts, as I was (always with suspension in my humble opinion), you will get it back fairly accurate afterwards.
Lets digress slightly here.
IF YOU ARE REPLACING JUST THE OUTER TIE ROD END:
After you have cracked the nut free, I personally snug it back against the rear of the outer tie rod end with your fingers (just another way to ROUGHLY help you keep your current alignment so you can drive it to be properly aligned afterwards).
IF YOU ARE REPLACING THE INNER OR BOTH:
Personally, I crack the nut and spin it back. No use trying to use it to help you keep alignment as you are changing the inner, and therefore the very shaft the nut is on.
Remove this clip with your pliers. These are a pain in the neck and will test your patience:
and remove the second clip further back on the steering rack. These require you to put a screwdriver in there and break them loose.
(Digressing here again - is that a leaking steering rack? It didnt smell of hydraulic fluid at all)
Remove the boot. It will be on little lips, so a bit of silicont spray if you have some will help or just brute force like I did will also get them off. Check the boots for any cracks etc, this is an MOT failure so its an ideal chance to change them seeing you are already at this stage if they need it. Mine were fine thankfully.
If you are doing your right side, turn the steering wheel far left. This will force the steering column, and subsequently the inner tie rod, to move out as far as possible into the right wheel well. You need this space to swing the spanner on the inner tie rod. Really important to be able to turn your steering. Once the boot is removed, you will be faced with this:
Grab your large flathead screwdriver, and tap back what is labelled as number 1 in this picture. It is a securing tab. Doesnt take much, just a few light taps. This directly connects to your steering rack so you don't want to abuse it too much (don't want to damage seals etc)
Label number 2 is a 24mm opening. I don't have a 24mm spanner so I used an adjustable wrench.
Some people use monkey wrenches etc - its your car, use those things if you want, I personally wouldn't. On the steering column, just behind the tab you knocked back is another flat spot for you to put a 19mm spanner on and hold the steering column steady whilst you turn the 24mm/adjustable anti clockwise to loosen the inner tie rod. No picture unfortunately. I have done this on cars where the inner tie rods put up a hell of a fight, but on mine, they both came out pretty easily which I was happy over.
Give the threads a wipe out, mine were clean anyway but its a force of habit. Note those two ridges. This is where the securing clip which you knocked back with your screwdriver seats itself. You will have a new one with your new inner tie rod:
This obviously goes onto the inner tie rod with those elevated parts pointing towards the steering rack so that it seats itself correctly
I was being guarded against my neighbours cat here I think, he loves chasing them....
Anyway, back on track, put some Loctite threadlocker onto the threads of the inner tie rod. Use medium strength only, which is blue in colour. I couldn't buy any anywhere other than ebay and changing these today was a spur of the money decision. I went past my local garage, asked if they had any spare going which was almost finished and ready to be binned. They did, and gave me an almost empty bottle, but it was enough for what I needed. You only need to put a few drops on the threads.
Hand tighten the inner tie rod onto the steering rack, remember to ensure that the washer is seating into those two slots correctly. Tighten the tie rod down using the same technique as loosening it. Then bend those tabs back. This is probably the hardest part as there is nowhere to swing a hammer and don't really want to swing anyway against the steering rack. I used stilsons in the end to bend them down and then lightly tapped them into position using a screwdriver and light taps with a hammer. Slap a bit of grease into the inner tie rod if needed.
Put boot back into place, against, silicone spray works well here, or just brute force. I would suggest that you secure the boot where it connects onto the steering rack first. Ideally, I would use another metal clamp to secure it. The clamps I had today were too big and would not wind down enough so I was forced to use cable ties. In my opinion, this is not ideal, but it was the only option I had available to me today and this will be corrected shortly. The boot itself doesnt move a huge amount and there is no pressure under it (unlike some cars where you need to evacuate the air pressure inside of there). This is a temporary solution and I have more metal clips on order already which I will replace when they hopefully arrive on Tuesday. Do not need to strip it down to do this as you can loop them through.
Put the clamp over the smaller end of the boot, again, good luck with this thing, have fun.
Put some copper grease on the threads of the inner tie rod and thread on the outer tie rod securing nut. Copper grease makes life easier for the wheel alignment centre and helps them give you freebies (like a free rear alignment in my case). Whilst I am on this, keep the nuts the same size on both sides of the car, stops them running back to get different spanners all the time...
Thread the outer tie rod back onto the inner tie rod thread and count the amount of turns. Finger tighten the locking nut against the rear of the outer tie rod and put the ball joint back into the wheel knuckle assembly and bolt it down with the castle nut. Now, snug down the locking nut on the rear of the outer tie rod. Align the castle pin with the hole of the threads and replace with a new cotter pin.
Put the wheel back on, take it to the alignment centre, have a cup of free coffee, blag a free rear wheel alignment check and enjoy your new quieter ride.
Repeat for the other side and you are done.
Hope this helps someone.
No more DIY's I think from me for a little while, she is now just as I want her to be mechanically/safety wise.
Replacing Inner and Outer Tie Rods