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Pelican Technical Article:

Tie Rod End Replacement

Nick Czerula

Time:

2 hours2 hrs

Tab:

$100

Talent:

***

Tools:

Set of sockets (16, 18mm), large adjustable wrench, floor jack, jack stands, wheel chocks, safety glasses, torque wrench, lug wrench

Applicable Models:

R56 MINI Cooper Hatchback (2007-11)
R56 MINI Cooper S Hatchback (2007-11)

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 MINI R56 models is known as electric-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. An electric motor powered by the engine electrical system, applies force to the gear, 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 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 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 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).
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 (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 16mm fastener (red arrow) about three turns.

Working at the outer tie rod, remove the 18mm tie rod end nut (red arrow).
Figure 3

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

Using a ball joint separator (red arrow), remove the tie rod end from the steering knuckle.
Figure 4

Using a ball joint separator (red arrow), remove the tie rod end from the steering knuckle.

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 you're replacing both, follow the remaining steps. If stuck, counterhold the 13mm hex boss (red arrow) while rotating the outer tie rod.

Next, use pliers and remove the outer clamp (red arrows).
Figure 6

Next, use pliers and remove the outer clamp (red arrows).

Then remove the inner clamp (red arrow).
Figure 7

Then remove the inner clamp (red arrow). This photo shows the clamp as viewed from below, looking above the subframe.

Then remove the inner clamp by opening it using a long flathead screwdriver.
Figure 8

Then remove the inner clamp by opening it using a long flathead screwdriver. Insert the screwdriver into the clamp crimp and lever it open. Be careful not to damage the boot when levering on the clamp.

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

Next, loosen the inner tie rod end (red arrow) 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.
Figure 10

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 use new dust boot clamps (red arrow) on the dust boot.
Figure 11

Remember to use new dust boot clamps (red arrow) on the dust boot. Once you are done, have the vehicle professionally aligned. This will ensure proper tire wear.

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