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Author Topic: How to change a Track Rod End (Tie Rod)  (Read 13383 times)

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How to change a Track Rod End (Tie Rod)
« on: 17 April 2007, 22:53:21 »

Changing a track rod end

This is not a difficult job to do - I completed the task in around ½ hour.

Featured Car
My 1998 2.5 V6 minifacelift.

Tools and Items Required

19 mm socket (standard)
19 mm socket (deep)
wobbler extension bar for 19 cm socket
18 mm socket
socket ratchet
wire brush
ball joint splitter (available at Machine Mart for about £7.00)
spanner of correct size for ball joint splitter
13 mm socket and 13 mm spanner or two 13 mm spanners
breaker bar or stout screwdriver
Torque wrench

New track rod end.  Official part description - Tie Rod Kit, part number V0009193094, price £62.08 (Ex VAT and Trade Club Price, April 2007)
Dismantling Lubricant (I use Plus Gas)

As ever, do net get under the car if it is only supported by a jack.  Axle stands MUST be in place first.  I also recommend that you wear Latex Gloves (the same that Doctors / Nurses use).  These are available at a reasonable cost at independent car shops.

The track rod end is located between the wheel hub and the central tie rod to which the steering box connects by means of the steering idler.  There is already a guide to changing the steering idler -  Very often the ball joints wear and the MOT tester will fail them as a result.  Replacing the track rod end is very simple.

A few days before doing the work, I recommend that you give the bolts on the side concerned a good soaking with plus gas.  This will make removal of the nuts much easier.

Before starting the job, find a suitable place to park the car, bearing in mind that you will need to jack up the side of the car concerned.  Remove the centre wheel cap if fitted and loosen (but do not remove) the wheel bolts.  Please note that the pictures show my car jacked up on both sides with axle stands in place.  This is because I was changing the exhaust at the same time.  You will only need to jack and support the side of the car concerned.  When jacking the car, use a piece of wood between the jack and the car to protect the chassis.

Removing the old part
Remove the wheel bolts and then the wheel.  To keep the wheel bolts safe, I reinsert them in to the hub having smeared the threads with copper ease.  The track rod will be exposed as the picture below shows.  Whilst I replaced the complete track rod, you can, in fact, replace the ball joints separately.

The old track rod end

Whilst it remains on the car, look at the way the old rod is fitted.  I am replacing the off side (drivers side) arm and there was a letter "R" marked on the outer part of the track rod.  The outer part connects to the wheel hub whilst the inner part connects to the centre tie rod.  The picture below shows where the letter is stamped on the arm.

The "R" mark on the track rod end is arrow (The "R" does not show that well)

With your wire brush, clean up the nuts that secure the track rod in place.  With this done, give them another dose of Plus Gas and set about removing them.  The inner bolt requires a 18mm spanner or socket whilst the outer bolt requires a 19mm spanner or socket.  Why I do not know.  As the outer bolt has a long thread, a standard socket (or at least none of the sockets I had) were deep enough.  Therefore I used a deep socket and wobbler bar to remove this.  The wobbler bar is an extension for a socket and ratchet which allows the ratchet handle to be operated at an angle.  This is necessary to clear the brake disc.  The pictures below show the process:

The inner joint being undone

The outer joint being undone with deep socket and wobbler bar

Now that the bolts are removed, use your ball joint splitter to separate the ball joint from the fixing.  For those of you who have not used a ball joint splitter before, the pictures below show how.  In summary, the fork of the tool slides between the ball joint base and the operating arm makes contact with the ball joint bolt.  The tool is then tightened (the arrow in the picture shows this) which puts a constant and even pressure on the bolt.  Very suddenly, and with a loud crack, the joint will release sending the ball joint splitter crashing to the floor along with the track rod end.

The ball joint splitter in position[/i]

The ball joint splitter being tightened using the arrowed bolt[/i]

« Last Edit: 27 September 2011, 10:28:36 by Jimbob »
1998 2.5 V6 Omega CDX, Leather and Electric Pack!


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Re: How to change a Track Rod End (Tie Rod)
« Reply #1 on: 17 April 2007, 22:58:03 »

Fitting the new part

Now that you have the old arm removed from the car, open the new one and make them the same length as in the picture below.  I recommend doing this on a piece of cardboard to prevent damage.  Place the old track rod as it was mounted on the car (i.e. with the letter "R" the same way).  Now place the new track rod next to the old and make the new one the same length as the old.  To do this, simply turn both of the rods until it matches the old unit.  The picture below shows the parts to turn and the track rods at the same length.

The old track rod and the new are equal lengths - the arrows show which parts to turn to make the length correct[/i]

Unscrew the nuts and keep them somewhere safe.  Then remove the plastic boot protectors (if fitted).  Inspect the black rubber boots on the new rod for any signs of damage.  If damage is present, then return the arm to your supplier for a replacement.  There is no point fitting a known damaged item as if the protective boot has failed, the ball joint will not last too long!  

Fix the new arm to the car starting with the outer joint as this is slightly more difficult to fit.  With this in place, screw on one of the nuts.  Make sure that this is one of the new self locking nuts supplied with the new part.  Next, put the inner bolt of the track rod end into its locating point.  As for the inner joint, screw the new bolt on to the nut.  Make sure that the ball joint is in the same position - for the outer joint the ball joint should be on the bottom of the hub fixing, whilst the inner joint should have the ball joint facing the front of the car. The picture below shows the correct positions - the nuts have not been tightened as yet.

The new track rod end in position, but not yet tightened fully

The next task is to tighten the nuts.  On the new track rod end, I found that both bolts were 19mm. After a few turns of the socket, you may discover that the nut is not tightening any further and the ball joint is turning with the nut.  If this proves to be the case, simply get your breaker bar or stout screwdriver and lever upwards on the bottom of the ball joint.  At the same time, turn your socket and the nut will then start to tighten.  I have not pictured this part for the outer joint, but I have for the inner joint, which is, once again, shown below.

A breaker bar being used to tighten the inner ball joint nut[/i]

Do not do the nuts up too tight as you will want to torque the bolts up.  Haynes says that the torque settings are 26 lbf ft for the inner balljoint (which seems very low to me) and 74 lbf ft for the outer balljoint.  Finally, using your two 13mm spanners or a 13mm spanner and socket, tighten the two pinch bolts in the middle of the arm.  Haynes do not give a torque setting for these (I could not find it at the front of the Suspension and Steering chapter in anyway) so I just tightened them tightly.  Recheck that all the bolts are tight.  The track rod is now fitted and the work is almost complete.

Whilst the road wheel is removed from the car, it is a good opportunity to check the chassis for any corrosion, the under seal for any defects and accumulated mud, the brake discs and pads, the brake pipes both metal and flexible and, lastly, the condition of wiring that exists, such as the ABS sensor.

Remove the wheel bolts that are stored in the hub and apply a smear of copper ease to it.  Refit the road wheel in the normal manner.  Lower the car to the ground and finally tighten the wheel bolts.   Haynes says that the wheel bolts have a torque of 81 lbf ft.  Refit any centre wheel trim and be sure to stow your locking wheel nut socket and centre wheel trim safely.

Finally, at the earliest opportunity go to a decent tyre centre and have your alignment checked - you do not want to be replacing tyres in a few months time owing to uneven wear.  There is a member on here who can advise further above this - I believe that his user name is "wheels in motion".  There are several centres across the country that are recommended by other users on here.  My local one is in Watford which I will go to when the car is on the road again.

Sit back proud in the knowledge that you have done this yourself and saved a good deal of money in the process!
« Last Edit: 24 July 2007, 16:20:40 by TheBoy »
1998 2.5 V6 Omega CDX, Leather and Electric Pack!
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