If your vehicle vibrates or the steering wheel shakes, you may have defective tie rod ends. Tie rod ends connect the tires to the steering wheel, and they should be replaced immediately to keep you safe on the road. It is simple to replace the tie rods yourself by following these steps.
Prepare to Replace the Tie Rod
To replace tie rods gather:
- work gloves
- jack stands and wheel chocks
- tie rod puller
- socket and ratchet set
- needle-nose pliers
- impact wrench or breaker bar
- torque wrench
- 1/2-inch inch breaker bar
- cotter pins (optional)
- boot clips (optional)
- new tie rods
Put the vehicle in park, and turn off the motor. Loosen the lug nuts on the tires with the impact wrench or breaker bar, but don't remove the nuts completely.
Raise the vehicle front on jack stands, and support the opposite end with wheel chocks. The preferred points are the pinch welds on cars, and the frame on trucks, or check your manual.
Remove the Castle Nut, Pinch Nut, and Cotter Pins
Disconnect the lug nuts completely, remove the tires, and set parts aside. For extra support on the front-end, slide the wheels under the vehicle. You should now see the tie rod ends on the front wheels.
The tie rod is a long shaft coming through the steering knuckle that has a castle nut (a nut with slots at one end resembling a castle) and the pinch nut at the end of the rod. Turn the steering wheel to further push the tie rod out for easier access. Trace the path of the outer tie rod to where it meets the inner tie rod.
Use the correct wrench to loosen the pinch nut at the end of the rod that keeps it from turning on the inner rod spindle. Raise the nut to reveal the threads, and mark them with a marker to help position the new tie rod ends correctly.
Detach the castle nut on the steering knuckle with the correct socket and ratchet, and remove the cotter pins (metal parts that hold the tie rods together) by unbending the pins with the needle-nose pliers.
Replace the Tie Rod Ends
Remove the tie rod end with the puller, counting the number of rotations you make. To remove inner tie rods, detach the pinch nut, and boot clamps with pliers. Look for another clip inside the rod, and break it with a flat-blade screwdriver, remove the boot, then the tie rod end.
Install the new tie rod ends using the same number of rotations you did when you removed them and the markings. Tighten the bolts using the suggested torque. Replace the inner nut using new boot clips. For more information, contact an auto repair shop near you.