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Pelican Technical Article:

Tie Rod End Replacement

Nick Czerula

Time:

2 hours2 hrs

Tab:

$100

Talent:

***

Tools:

Set of sockets (21mm), 24mm wrench, large adjustable wrench, pry bar, wire brush, floor jack, jack stands, wheel chocks, safety glasses, lug wrench, torque wrench

Applicable Models:

BMW 525i/xi Sedan (2004-07)
BMW 528i xDrive Sedan (2009-10)
BMW 528i/xi Sedan (2008-10)
BMW 530i/xi Sedan (2004-07)
BMW 530xi Wagon (2006-07)
BMW 535i xDrive Sedan/Wagon (2009-10)
BMW 535i/xi Sedan (2008-10)
BMW 535xi Wagon (2008)
BMW 545i Sedan (2004-05)
BMW 550i Sedan (2006-10)
BMW M5 Sedan (2006-10)

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 the BMW E60 is a power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering system. 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. In addition, at high speeds (above 75 mph or 120 kph) the active steering microprocessor reduces driver input into the steering system in order to prevent the transmission of unintended rapid steering movement to the front wheels.

The tie rod ends connect the power steering rack to the steering knuckles. There are two tie rods on each side, 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. In my region of the country they rust together and make adjustments difficult. Rather than fighting this when aligning, I replace them together. When tie rods wear, the ball joints will wear creating free-play. You may have a knocking noise or looseness in your steering. You can check for free-play by jacking up 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.

Remove the wheel well liner from the side of the vehicle you are removing the tie rod on. See our tech article on wheel well liner replacing.

The inner tie rod is hidden behind a dust boot (yellow 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. Then slide the locking sleeve (inset) over toward the nut to loosen the connection

Working at the outer tie rod, remove the 21mm tie rod end nut (green arrow).
Figure 3

Working at the outer tie rod, remove the 21mm tie rod end nut (green arrow).

Pull the ball joint down out of the steering knuckle bore.
Figure 4

Pull the ball joint down out of the steering knuckle bore. You will not need a separating tool. BMW vehicles with aluminum steering knuckles do not have interference fit ball joints. If the ball joint is stuck, it could be due to corrosion (green arrow). If needed, tap the ball out of the steering knuckle by hitting it on the top of the threads using a soft-faced hammer.

At this point, you can replace just the outer tie rod end.
Figure 5

At this point, you can replace just the outer tie rod end. Loosen it, counting the turns, then install the new one in the same position. Use the number of noted turns to install it. Install the new ball joint nut and tighten it. Then tighten the tie rod locking nut. If replacing both, follow the remaining steps.

Next, use pliers and remove the outer clamp (green arrow).
Figure 6

Next, use pliers and remove the outer clamp (green arrow). Then remove the inner clamp (yellow arrow).

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 the tie rod end from the vehicle. Compare the length of the old tie rod with the new one and adjust it if needed. Complete the new tie rod end before installing it. Then install the ends into the vehicle. Reverse the removal steps when installing the new inner and outer tie rod end components. Remember to replace locking nuts and use new dust boot clamps on the dust boot. Once you are done, have the vehicle professionally aligned. This will ensure proper tire wear.

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Comments and Suggestions:
Mosh Comments: I'm stuck on step 3. I'm using an adjustable wrench but the bolt doesn't seem to be moving at all. It does have slight corrosion on it.
August 7, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You will need the correct size wrench, you may strip the nut using an adjustable wrench. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
AK Comments: Should you replace dust boot, or use the current one when changing tie rods ?
October 22, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If it is not damaged, you can reuse it. I usually do. - Nick at Pelican Parts  

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Page last updated: Mon 1/16/2017 02:42:05 AM