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Changing Your Tie Rods
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Changing out your tie rods is similar to changing your control arms but a bit easier. Once again the hardest part is simply seperating the ball joints. However once it's done, the rest of the job is easy! This took me about 2 hours simply because I was taking my time. Now the reason why I had to replace my tie rods is because the dealership (where I took it in for an alignment) said my tie rods were siezed. I was at 100k so I just decided to go ahead and replace them. Now my entire front end should be good for another 100k.
Needle Nosed Pliers
Various Sockets and Wrenches
34mm Crows Foot (Pipe wrench could work if you don't want to buy a some more tools. I also enjoy the opportunity to buy some new tools)
5mm Allen Wrench
Penetrating Oil (This will help do some of the work for you like PB Blast)
Pickle Fork (Can be rented from your local auto parts store for free)
Rubber Mallet and a Sledge Hammer (I used a 10lb to get the job done quickly)
Hack saw or dremel with metal cutting attachment
Lemfoerder Tie Rod Assembly With Hardware Left (Part # 32-11-1-096-897) $75
Lemfoerder Tie Rod Assembly With Hardware Right (Part # 32-21-1-096-898)
Anti-Sieze Compound (To make the job easier next time)
Zip Ties (One long and one medium)
Safely lift at least the front of the car
1. Using a lift or a floor jack with ramps lift at least the front of the vehicle. Instructions for jacking up your car can be found here. This can be a very dangerous step, so make sure that the car is properly secured before ever getting under it. Never get under a car that is just supported by a jack!
Remove the front wheel
Remove the front wheel
Remove the front wheels
2. Using a 17mm deep socket with an impact wrench or hand ratchet, remove the lugnuts and set your wheels aside. If your alloys are siezed onto your brake rotors, sit down on your butt and give the sidewalls of the tires a good kick until it becomes loose. If they have siezed on, make yourself a note to add some antisieze lubricant to the brake rotor mating surface before reinstalling the wheels.
Remove the splash shield
The splash shield
Remove the splash shield
3. Using a phillips screwdriver, loosen the seven screws and take off the engine cover. (Note: the screws won't come out, they will stay in place)
Tools needed to seperate the ball joint
Spay some penetrating oil and loosen the nut
Seperate the ball joint
Get the proper angle
Seperate the ball joint from the steering knuckle
4. Spray some PB Blast onto the ball joint nut and let it sit for a few minutes. After you've waited a bit, get a 18mm wrench and remove the ball joint nut. If it spins then you'll need to hold the ball joint with a 5mm allen wrench (see below).
5. Make sure that the nut is still threaded on slightly, this will make sure it doesn't fall when it's seperated. We will remove this nut later.
So now the nut is off but the ball joints are probably siezed. This is where the pickle fork comes into play. First get the proper angle on the pickle fork (note the pictures) and pound it into place with the rubber mallet. If you're really lucky it will seperate nice and easy, for me it didn't want to play nice. Have the wheel slightly turned, but not too much or that will tend to hold the ball joint in place.
Note: Please be careful while using a large hammer on the pickle fork to not damage the car or yourself. Make sure to wear safety glasses and other personal protective gear.
In order to help things along, i broke out my 10lb sledge hammer. It only took a couple of good whacks before they will seperate. If it's been a few good whacks, spray some PB blast, wait 5 minutes, and repeat. Since we're not reusing the ball joint, it doesn't matter if they get damaged. Trust me they will eventually seperate, just give it a few good whacks.
Remove band on the tie rod
Remove the band on the steering rack
Remove the bands from the dust boot
7. Using a flat head screwdriver and pair of needle nosed pliers, remove the bands holding the dust boot onto the tie rod and steering rack. We're not going to reuse them, so it doesn't matter if they get broken. We ARE going to reuse the dust boot (which are about $30) so make sure you don't damage it.
Put everything else back together
19. Reinstall the splash cover and tighten the screws.
20. Put the wheels back on (put some anti-sieze on the rotor hat if you had some trouble getting your wheels off before) and torque down your lug nuts to 88 ft-lbs after safely lowering your car.
21. Make sure you go and get a 4 wheel alignment as soon as possible. If you've got some other projects you're working on like tie rods, RTABS, etc. then wait till you've finished them all.
After getting my alignment done, I can definitly tell that the steering is much more responsive and bumps don't affect the steering neerly as much. It feels like a brand new car again and if you're nearing 100k, I'd highly recommend changing things out. The only reason I changed mine was the old ones were "siezed" and even though they probably could be "un-siezed" with 100k on the ball joints, it was probably time to change them anyways. One less thing to worry about now.