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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 Z4 Convertible (2003-06)
BMW Z4 Coupe (2006)

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 Z4 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 which 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.

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 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. Questions or want to add to the article? Leave a comment below. When leaving a comment, please leave your vehicle information.

Raise and support front of 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 front wheel from side of vehicle you are replacing the tie rod on.

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

The inner tie rod is hidden behind a dust boot (purple arrow), the outer can be seen here, attached to the steering knuckle (red 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. Loosen the 24mm lock nut (red arrow).

Loosen the nut about 3 turns.
Figure 3

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

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

Working at the outer tie rod, remove the 18mm tie rod end nut (red arrows).

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 (red arrow).
Figure 6

At this point; you can replace just the outer tie rod end (red arrow). 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 diagonal cutters to remove the dust boot clamps (red arrows).
Figure 7

Next, use a diagonal cutters to remove the dust boot clamps (red arrows). Once open, remove them from the dust boot.

Slide the dust boot (red arrow) toward the outer tie rod end.
Figure 8

Slide the dust boot (red arrow) toward the outer tie rod end. This allows access to the inner tie rod end nut (purple arrow).

Next, loosen the inner tie rod end using a 32mm wrench or inner tie rod end tool.
Figure 9

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 10

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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Page last updated: Fri 12/2/2016 03:00:07 AM