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Tie rod end replacement--how hard/easy is it?


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33 replies to this topic

#1 Kwhistle

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 09:18 AM

I'm trying to pass the damn NY State inspection, and it seems every time something new comes up. A week ago, they claimed brakes were bad, wanted me to pay $200+ to put in new pads. Well, I slapped on new pads myself, went to a different place, and they tell me that the "tie rod end is bad."

How hard is it to replace it? If you don't have a garage? And how much should it cost at a shop?

As always, thanks in advance for all the responses.

Edited by Kwhistle, 19 January 2010 - 10:18 AM.


#2 destey

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 10:14 AM

Depends. If its rusted it may need to be heated with an acetylene torch. The end that connects to the inner tierod may be frozen, as well as the jamnut on it. If you don't have a torch which it doesn't sound like, you could hit it a week ahead of time with some pb blaster.

The end that sticks up through the knuckle may be frozen as well. I use a pickel fork and beat it out. You might be able to find some combo of straight punches and pieces of metal jammed in there to cause it to break loose.

After you replace one end or both ends it will need an alignment. So you'll have to take it to someone anyways. Something to consider, maybe just have them do it all.

#3 Kwhistle

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 10:17 AM

Thanks for the info. Sounds like I do have to take it to a mechanic. How much should this repair cost? The inspection station people wanted $150 for it, and I don't know if that includes alignment. Does that sound reasonable?

#4 grossgary

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 10:17 AM

You don't specify inner or outer by i'm guessing it's the outer?

Tie rods are really easy, it's only two nuts and that's it. They're also very critical, probably one of the most dangerous items on the car should it fail. So if the boot is broke or it's loose definitely a good thing to replace.

But there are a few things to note:

* Count exactly how many rotations it takes to remove, then reinstall the other the same number of turns. This maintains your alignment. I also don't back the nut off much to keep alignment of the tie rod itself close. I'd use a Subaru unit so everything is made the same. If you don't do this step then you might be off a bit and need to get an alignment.

* Have a pickle fork to make your life easy. The tie rod is tight fit in the hub and can be hard to get out. A pickle fork means it takes 6 seconds every time. PLaces likes advaned auto parts or autozone have loaner tool and tool rental programs so you can borrow a tool like this for free. stop in and ask them.

* Rust is not your friend. The nut on the tie rod might be tight. Spraying it all down really good with PB Blaster before hand, like a couple days even...even a couple times (both ends of the tie rod is a good idea) helps. The more rusty it is, the more annoying it may be. Loosen the inner nut first before remove the tie rod from the hub.

I've actually replaced tie rods before without even jacking the car up and removing the wheel. I don't recommend it, particularly a bad idea your first time, I'm just saying it's possible.

That being said - it's well under an hour job at a shop, so it shouldn't cost much to fix.

#5 grossgary

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 10:19 AM

TThe inspection station people wanted $150 for it, and I don't know if that includes alignment. Does that sound reasonable?


Anyone replacing the tie rod is not going to align the car. If you do it right there's no need for an alignment (see my notes above). I never get an alignment after replacing tie rods. "alignment" is such a marketed term these days, no one really understands it, everyone thinks it's some mystical thing.

$150 is reasonable. Not cheap but reasonable.

#6 johnceggleston

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 11:13 AM

somewhere i read if, after you back off the lock nut, you spray some paint on the threaded part of the tie rod, you will know exactly how far to thread on the new one. however, if you have been spraying the thing with pblaster for a week, the paint may not stick.

#7 nipper

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 11:25 AM

I just count the 1/2 rotations of the tie rod as it unscrews. It can actually be theraputic to do, especially if you really have to beat the snot out of it to get it off. Or you can do it the easy way and get tie rod press.


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#8 destey

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 12:32 PM

Manufacturing differences will make "counting threads" a rough way to get it approximate but if you want it spot on and to handle better than before you'll want an alignment.

I shouldn't be one to talk, I'm so cheap when I replaced my rack I set the two units next to each other and made them "the same". But its a beater and I don't mind it pulling to the right and eating up beater tires. I've got a pile of free beater tires but an alignment is $72 and an hour of my time at monro's (whom I like)

When a thread machine makes threads they're not always the same. The threads may start in a slightly different spot rotation wise, the threaded portion may be in a slightly different spot relative to the datum from piece to piece... That's why alignments are done versus the ballpart method described above. If you go to a factory they don't count threads or rotations, its just not that accurate.

My other car was just aligned and they got it to 0.020" toe in. This slight toe in is intentional as the car will tend to toe out as the geometry changes with the control arm moving up and down.

This is all out the window if you don't have good bushings everywhere. The stock control arm bushings aren't very good, all the way around. Also the steering rack bushings are soft and the rack slides back and forth slightly on them. Also might want to check the ball joints while you're at it. Anything that's sloppy will render all the work your doing to be pointless.

#9 Kwhistle

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 01:19 PM

Thanks for all the replies and all the advice. Just a few more questions. I'm pretty good with my hands, but I'm no mechanic, not even an amateur one. So just to fill in a few blanks, what exactly is a tie rod/end and why is it crucial to replace it? What could they mean by "bad tie rod end"? I'm just concerned they are making things up just to make some money. Could what I have hold for another month and half + 14-hour highway ride? (Just because I'll be moving to a state that doesn't require inspections, and only want to do this now to avoid $65 tickets. Plus, I'll have a garage where I'll be able to replace it myself for about $100 less and knowing that I did it right).

P.S. if anyone knows if a NYC ticket for missing/expired inspection can be dismissed if I get inspection, pls let me know :)

#10 grossgary

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 01:52 PM

A tie rod is what connects your steering to your front hub (think - wheel). When it breaks (rare) the wheel/hub is free to turn anywhere it wants regardless of where you turn the wheel because it's no longer connected. That's why I say it is a safety concern, there's hardly anything more dangerous.

Tie rods fail inspection typically when the boot is busted or it's loose. Usually it's just a busted boot. It is very unlikely to fail if it's not making noise. They make noise when they run out of grease and start to grind metal on metal. Even then it will be awhile before they fail.

If the car has ever been in an accident or severe collission, the joint may have been stressed outside of normal wear and tear.

That's cool if you like getting an alignment, but it's not necessary and I wouldn't advertise that it is. It's been done for decades and is fairly easy to maintain alignment when replacing a tie rod. Actually it's really easy and done all the time. If someone is performance minded and such then I doubt they're worried about saving cash replacing a tie rod to pass inspection. I might not post this same response on the NASIOC turbo performance forum.

With the frequency you should be rotating tires on an AWD Subaru you can keep an eye out for improper tire wear and get an alignment when you notice it or your rotating mechanic will let you know. That's what I do and I haven't paid for an alignment in 10 or 15 years except in rebuilding a wrecked car.

#11 nipper

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 01:53 PM

http://auto.howstuff...m/steering2.htm

A tie rod end is a vital component to the steering. What the mean but it being bad is that it is worn enough to have unexceptable play in the joint. This results in the car drifiting when trying to go straight. The tire following grooves in the pavement. Vibration in the front end, and if it gets really bad a to cmplete loss of control when it snaps (been there but at low speed).

Saftey insepctions are vital, and on state inspectiosn there arent any fluff. They have listed what the minimal of what is required to be safe (though an argument can be made for aftermarket or factory fog lights).

Have them show you the play, but it is a saftey item and may not last an hour, or may last a year, but is your life or someone elses actually worth that risk?

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#12 johnceggleston

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 01:53 PM

the tie rod end connects to the wheel and is used to steer the car. if it fails it can cause an accident, the faster you are driving the worse the accident.

have you had this shop / inspection station do any work for you in the past? i gouess not. i had my wifes car in for annual inspection, got a call saying i needed 500$ of work to pass. i went in and reviewed all of the items only to learn from the shop mgr, "oh, he mis-spoke, that was a mis-communication." yeah, right.

if you go to a different shop and ask them if you need one you may get a different answer. especially if they see you as a new long term customer. maybe take it in for an oil change an while they are doing it mention that you are not going to your old shop because they tried to rip you off. "by the way, how do the tie rod ends look?"

#13 nipper

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 01:54 PM

http://www.2carpros....rk/steering.htm

better link


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#14 grossgary

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 01:56 PM

You can also visually inspect the tie rods, there's hardly anything to them. A boot - which will be visibly torn or play, which will be obvious. I've yet to see any Subaru tie rod with play, but I'm sure it happens. Broken boot is much more likely.

#15 nipper

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 01:57 PM

PS if your car has over 100K on it or higher, the more likely you will need tie rod ends and ball joints, as they do wear out with time. Both are saftey items.


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#16 nipper

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 01:59 PM

You can also visually inspect the tie rods, there's hardly anything to them. A boot - which will be visibly torn or play, which will be obvious. I've yet to see any Subaru tie rod with play, but I'm sure it happens. Broken boot is much more likely.


I had two of them, but Blu also had over 200,000 miles on him.


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#17 Kwhistle

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 05:26 PM

Thanks for links, nipper. I read the wikipedia article about tie rods, but really couldn't wrap my mind around the concept from what they wrote.

I guess, I'll call a couple places and see how much it would be to replace it for my car. There is no way for me to do it myself.

Just one more thing--I did see them "shake" the wheel when they raised the car, so from what you guys are telling me, it seems they did know what they were doing, and didn't really make it up. Also, I did notice what seemed like excessive vibration at high speeds. The speed at which it would vibrate depended on the road, and seemingly also on the wind. Could that be related to the alleged tie rod end troubles?

#18 nipper

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 05:34 PM

Also, I did notice what seemed like excessive vibration at high speeds. The speed at which it would vibrate depended on the road, and seemingly also on the wind. Could that be related to the alleged tie rod end troubles?


Yes.

#19 grossgary

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 05:40 PM

Yep - it could be more ominous too - like an inner tie rod. Either way if you're experiencing sypmtoms i'd get it one sooner rather than later.

#20 nipper

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 06:02 PM

Get that fixed. Then find a shop you trust and tell them to gover the front end of the car and see if anything else is going to need replacing.

The shop did you a favor by finding it.


Cheap oil changes serve two purposes (which is why i am so against driv in oil change places). The primary is to get the car in on the lift twice a year or more for inspection, the second is that same and to make the shop money. There is nothing wrong with the second, just you have to use your brain. If the shop says you have an oil leak and it costs much bucks to fix, you live with it and now know to check your oil regularly (which of course you do anyway). If they say you need a saftey item, stop and thinkg if you had any wierdness in the car, and look at the mileage. If the car has voer 1XXXXX miles odds are you need it.

Especially if it keeps the wheels on the car or makes the car stop. Other things can be put off till later.


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#21 1-3-2-4

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Posted 20 January 2010 - 11:40 AM

I gotta do this myself now.. the front is feels nasty I was going to buy this tool from amazon.

http://www.amazon.co...&pf_rd_i=507846

will it work on Subaru's? my inner and outter need to be replaced along with both boots as they are ripped all the way around.

#22 grossgary

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Posted 20 January 2010 - 12:09 PM

The inner tie rod is never a problem getting off since it doesn't sit entirely exposed and prone to rust like the outer tie rod. You will find both nuts to be the pain to remove, not the inner tie rod.

well at least in my experience. wrenches, monkey wrench/pipe wrench will get it off no problem.

#23 nipper

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Posted 20 January 2010 - 12:13 PM

On the inner the two biggest fights are the boot and the #$#%$@#%^$%^$%$@#^&#@ locking tab. The tierod itself once you get on it comes right off.

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#24 1-3-2-4

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Posted 20 January 2010 - 01:25 PM

You can also visually inspect the tie rods, there's hardly anything to them. A boot - which will be visibly torn or play, which will be obvious. I've yet to see any Subaru tie rod with play, but I'm sure it happens. Broken boot is much more likely.


I have both play and torn boots all the way around.

and people talk about this locking tab whats so hard about it?

all I have to go by is pictures but I plan on taking care of this the first or 2nd week of Feb. can't be hard.. bend a tab and your done.

#25 grossgary

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Posted 20 January 2010 - 01:28 PM

I've never had a problem with the tab, guess it depends on the vehicle.




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