Complete Tie Rod End Replacement Instructions
Inner and outer tie rods allow articulated movement of the steering mechanism, up and down, right and left, as well as forward and reverse. These components are simple ball and socket components that have a full range of motion. As with any ball-and-socket device, it wears over time.
Type of service has an impact on the life of the part. If the vehicle is driven in extreme environments (e.g., an off-road Jeep® Wrangler or a Dodge Challenger police car driving over bumpy city streets), it can be just as much of a contributor to wear as extended mileage.
This segment discusses steering basics, diagnostics and tie rod repair.
The rotation of the steering wheel is converted to linear (side-to-side) motion through the meshing of the helical pinion teeth with the rack teeth within the steering gear. The lateral travel pushes and pulls the tie rods to change the direction of the front wheels of the vehicle.
The tie rod is a two-piece component. It consists of the inner end — which is threaded to the end of the rack gear — and the outer end — which has one end threaded to the end of the inner end shaft and the other end press fit into the steering knuckle. Both ends are ball-and-socket designs.
Power assist steering is provided by hydraulic pressure. The hydraulic fluid is diverted to one side of the rack gear, or the other, to provide this power assist. If the power assist is lost, the vehicle can still be steered manually, but with increased effort.
DIAGNOSING TIE ROD WEAR
Let’s start with the outer tie rod end. When checking the outer end for wear, do not rotate it by hand. Just because the tie rod end rotates easily does not mean that it is worn. A more precise test is required. Mount a magnetic dial indicator on the brake rotor. Position the contact needle in the same direction of the tie rod end stud. Zero the dial indicator. Move the tie rod end up and down with light hand pressure. If the amount of travel exceeds 0.002″, replace the outer end.
If the outer end is not worn, check the inner tie rod end. Grasp the inner tie rod end near the steering gear bellows (see Figure 1). Attempt to move the tie rod end up and down. If any free play is detected, the tie rod end is worn and must be replaced. If no free play is felt, the tie rod end is good.
REMOVING THE OUTER AND INNER TIE ROD ENDS
Lift the front end of the vehicle and support it with a jack or hydraulic lift. Then remove the road wheel. Remove the jam nut from the tie rod stud. Separate the tie rod stud from the steering knuckle using the appropriate tool (either special tool 9360 or a tapered fork). See Figure 2.
Loosen the jam nut on the inner end shaft. Remove the outer tie rod end from the inner tie rod end. Count the number of rotations needed to remove the outer end as a reference for installing the new outer end.
On the All-Wheel-Drive (AWD) Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300, the outer tie rod end design is different in appearance than the standard outer tie rod end. As shown in Figure 3, the arm of the outer end is much longer than the standard design. In addition, there is a 90-degree bend in the arm. The tie rod stud, however, is tapered and is pressed into the steering knuckle in the same manner as the standard piece.
To remove the inner end, first remove the bellows (see Figure 1) by removing the inner and outer clamps. Slide the bellows off the inner end threaded shaft. Using an inner tie rod socket and wrench, or equivalent tool, remove the inner tie rod end from the end of the steering gear rack gear (see Figure 4).
INSTALLING NEW INNER AND OUTER TIE ROD ENDS
Before installing a new inner tie rod end, apply Mopar® Lock and Seal Adhesive, or equivalent, to the inner threads of the ball-and-socket assembly. Install the inner tie rod end onto the steering gear rack gear using the appropriate inner tie rod end installer tool (see Figure 4).
On a typical FCA US LLC minivan, tighten the inner tie rod end to 65 ft.-lbs. Check the appropriate service manual for the vehicle being serviced. Loosely place the new clamp over the large end of the bellows. Slide the new bellows, with clamp, over the inner tie rod end and onto the steering gear housing. Push the small end of the bellows past the groove machined into the inner tie rod shaft. Apply a small amount of Mopar Lubriplate, or equivalent, uniformly to the groove. This grease will allow for toe adjustment without twisting the bellows. Pull out the small end of the bellows until the ridge inside the bellows engages with the groove.
Install the new small clamp over the small end of the bellows. Using crimping pliers, crimp the large clamp to secure the bellows to the steering gear housing. If the outer end uses a small clamp, slide that clamp onto the small end of the bellows.
Thread the outer tie rod end jam nut onto the inner tie rod end shaft. Be sure it is threaded far enough to install the outer tie rod end. Install the outer tie rod end. Thread the outer tie rod the same number of turns as it took to remove it. This will set the toe close to the required setting.
Install the tapered stud into the steering knuckle (see Figure 2). Install and tighten the nut to the specified torque setting. Do not tighten the jam nut until after the vehicle is aligned.
After the inner and outer tie rod ends are installed on both sides of the vehicle, install the tire and wheel assemblies. Lower the vehicle. Perform a wheel alignment to set the toe to specifications on each side of the vehicle. Tighten the jam nut on both outer tie rod ends.
The next step is always the best one. Return the vehicle to a happy customer.