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Tie Rod End Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Tie Rod End Replacement

Nick Czerula

Time:

2 hours2 hrs

Tab:

$100

Talent:

***

Tools:

Set of sockets (18mm), pry bar, wire brush

Applicable Models:

BMW Z3 (1996-02)

Parts Required:

inner and outer tie rod ends

Hot Tip:

Replace inner and outer together

Performance Gain:

Quiet and smooth front end

Complementary Modification:

Replace both sides

The steering system used in BMW Z3 is known as power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering. Rotating the steering wheel spins a small pinion gear, thus sliding a toothed rack left or right. The ends of the rack attach to tie-rods that steer the front wheels. A hydraulic pump, powered by the engine accessory belt, forces steering fluid into hoses leading to pistons in the steering rack. A hydraulic valve in the steering rack varies the hydraulic fluid pressure in the two cylinders, dependent on how fast or forcefully the pinion gear is rotated. This multiplies the driver's force in steering the wheels.

An optional active steering system varies the force multiplication of power steering depending on vehicle speed. At low speeds steering assist (force multiplication) is at a maximum to aid in low speed driving and parking. At high speed steering assist is reduced.

The tie rod ends connect the power steering rack to the steering knuckles. There are two tie rod ends on each tie rod, each with a ball joint. I will refer to these as inner and outer tie rod ends. They can be replaced separately. However, I prefer to replace them in pairs. The inner and outer tie rods are threaded together and, in my region, they rust together and make adjusting the alignment difficult. Rather than fighting this when aligning, I replace them together. 

When tie rods ball joints wear out, they create excessive free-play in the steering. You may notice a knocking noise or looseness in your steering. You can check for steering free-play by jacking the front of your vehicle and wiggling the wheel side to side. If there is any free-play, replace the tie rod.

Keep in mind that when your car was serviced before, parts may have been replaced with different size fasteners used in the replacement. The sizes of the nuts and bolts we give may be different from what you have, so be prepared with different size sockets and wrenches. 

Protect your eyes, hands and body from fluids, dust and debris while working on your vehicle. If you're working with the electrical system, disconnect the battery before beginning. Always catch fluids in appropriate containers and properly dispose of any fluid waste. Recycle parts, packaging and fluids when possible. Do not work on your vehicle if you feel the task is beyond your ability. 

Vehicle models change and evolve, as they grow older, so the vehicle shown in our illustrations may vary slightly from yours. If something seems different, let us know and share your info to help other users. Do you have questions or want to add to the article? Leave a comment below. When leaving a comment, please leave your vehicle information.

Raise and support the front of the vehicle on jack stands. See our tech article on jacking up your vehicle. You'll want both wheels off the ground for this repair.

Remove the front wheel from the side of the vehicle you are replacing the tie rod on.

The inner tie rod is hidden behind a dust boot (yellow arrow), the outer can be seen here, attached to the steering knuckle (green arrow).
Figure 1

The inner tie rod is hidden behind a dust boot (yellow arrow), the outer can be seen here, attached to the steering knuckle (green arrow).

Start by loosening the connection between the inner and outer tie rod ends.
Figure 2

Start by loosening the connection between the inner and outer tie rod ends. Counter-hold the inner tie rod end with a 13mm wrench while loosening the 24mm lock nut.

Loosen the nut about 3 turns.
Figure 3

Loosen the nut about 3 turns. Then slide the locking sleeve (green arrow) over toward the nut to loosen the connection

Working at the outer tie rod, remove the 18mm tie rod end nut (green arrow).
Figure 4

Working at the outer tie rod, remove the 18mm tie rod end nut (green arrow).

Use a ball joint separator to separate the tie rod end from the steering knuckle.
Figure 5

Use a ball joint separator to separate the tie rod end from the steering knuckle. If you do not have one, a swift blow from a hammer will break the connection, At this point; you can replace just the outer tie rod end. Loosen it, counting the turns, and then install the new one in the same position. Using the number of noted turns to install it. Install new ball joint nut and tighten. Then tighten tie rod locking nut. If replacing both, follow the remaining steps.

Next, use a flathead screwdriver to open up the dust boot clamps.
Figure 6

Next, use a flathead screwdriver to open up the dust boot clamps. Once open, remove them from the dust boot.

Slide the dust boot toward the outer tie rod end.
Figure 7

Slide the dust boot toward the outer tie rod end. This allows access to the inner tie rod end nut.

Next, loosen the inner tie rod end using a 32mm wrench or inner tie rod end tool.
Figure 8

Next, loosen the inner tie rod end using a 32mm wrench or inner tie rod end tool. If you do not have a wrench this large, you can use an adjustable wrench. The tie rod is not held on with a lot of torque, it will loosen easy. Keep this in mind when retightening it. Unscrew and remove tie rod end from vehicle.

Compare length of old tie rod with new, adjust if needed.
Figure 9

Compare length of old tie rod with new, adjust if needed. Complete tie rod ends are available, you will have to check that the installed length will be close before installing it. Then install into vehicle Reverse removing steps when installing. Remember to replace locking nuts and use new dust boot clamps on dust boot. Once you are done, have the vehicle professionally aligned, this will ensure proper tire wear.

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Comments and Suggestions:
ALaS Comments: Are there no Stop-Locks for the E36 tie end rod? I've swapped in a Z3 1.9 rack into my E30 but I noticed no stop locks.
June 24, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: In the rack? Not, the suspension has the stops. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
MC Comments: Is there a need to somehow hold the rack itself to resist the torque applied to the large inner tie rod nut? You don't seem to use one on Figure 8.

I feel like the torque applied to remove/install would be bad for the rack internals. Or maybe I am imagining things.
March 2, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Over-thinking it. There isn't much torque on the tie rod fasteners. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
chris32896e36 Comments: its a 328 '96 e36. I am trying to replace the complete tie rod. I am going to find a 32mm clutch fan tool. Hopefully that will help me turn the thing!
March 31, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can figure out what part or repair kit you need.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
chris32896e36 Comments: My inner tie rod is absolutely held on with lots of torque. I cant get a large wrench on it as the rounded parts prevent purchase and my thin nose vice grips slip off before the nut will turn :'
March 31, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: What vehicle are you working on? You may need to replace the inner and outer as a set if they are seized. This is quite common. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
sondjata Comments: One last follow up. I wasn't paying attention and put the tie rods back on the wrong sides. Pay attention folks so you don't waste money twice on alignment. The bags they came in had little "l" and "r" on it.

*Puts on dunce cap and sits in the corner*
April 21, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Great tip and thanks for sharing your troubles with us. This info will certainly help someone avoid a problem in the future. Thanks again. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
sondjata Comments: Thanks for the replies. The welding was an attempt at humor. Anyway the part finally broke loose this morning. This tool: http://www.harborfreight.com/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/i/m/image_12294.jpg

along with a long pipe connected to a wrench is what did it.
April 20, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Ahhhh, humor can be hard to get across in text, at times. Glad you got it worked out. Thanks for the follow up. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
sondjata Comments: Thanks for the reply. I didn't specify that it was the outer rod to the wheel hub, not the rack. I'm replacing the rack so the inner could be welded for all I care. lol
April 18, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I wouldn't weld steering or suspension components, I suggest replacing them. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
sondjata Comments: Any suggestions when the outer tie rod won't come loose. Hammer, penetrating oil, fork. Nothing is working thus far.
April 18, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Likely frozen. I have seen them stuck pretty good over the years. If it won;t come off, you may need to replace the inner and outer together. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
saneesh8 Comments: Removed the boot and checked it. Seems i was actually pushing too hard and steering was also moving. My bad !!
January 17, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the follow up. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
saneesh8 Comments: Please see the video at http://s1095.photobucket.com/user/saneesh8/media/BMW/Front-Underbody/DriverFrontEndPlay_zps71acb105.mp4.html.

I changed the Control arm bushings and outer tie rod both from pelican sometime back. This play that you can see, is it from the inner tie rod? I used Karlyn outer tie rod from pelican. The rocking at 3-6 clock makes this on video first i tried this, then at 6-12 and then at 5-11..wheel location like a clock. Car feels ok with new tires, but some looseness is there. Also Karlyn brands, how reliable are they? Control arm bushing i used is Lemforder.
January 12, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The parts are reliable. It's hard for me to tell where the movement is. If you pinch the tie rod boot and the inner joint, does the movement stop? I would check that all the ball joints are tight also. - Nick at Pelican Parts  

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Page last updated: Mon 10/23/2017 02:08:07 AM