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Pelican Technical Article:

Tie Rod Replacement

Steve Vernon

Time:

3 hours3 hrs

Tab:

$25 to $200

Talent:

**

Tools:

21mm, T30 Torx, large adjustable wrench, pliers, floor jack, jack stands, wheel chocks, safety glasses, lug wrench, torque wrench

Applicable Models:

Mercedes-Benz C250 (2012-14)
Mercedes-Benz C300 (2008-14)
Mercedes-Benz C350 (2008-14)

Parts Required:

Tie rods

Hot Tip:

Use a ball joint separator

Performance Gain:

Proper steering feel

Complementary Modification:

Have vehicle professionally aligned

The tie rods on a vehicle do exactly what their title describes; they are rods that tie the steering rack to the steering knuckle. The rod has two ball joints on each end. These ball joints wear over time creating free-play in the steering, which can lead to tire wear and an undesirable steering feel. The rubber boots protecting the ball joints on the tie rod ends also can get damaged, rip and dry out over the years allowing the grease inside to escape and causing the joint to fail. You can replace the inner and outer separately. Just be sure to have your vehicle aligned once complete. To inspect, jack up the front of your vehicle. Wiggle the wheel in both directions of the steering axis. Take note of any free-play. If free-play is felt, repeat the wiggle test while holding the outer tie rod. If no free-play is felt in the outer tie rod end locate the inner tie rod, and repeat the wiggle test.

Raise and support the front of the vehicle on jack stands. See our tech article on jacking up your vehicle.

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

The tie rods are made up of two parts, the inner tie rod, which connects to the steering rack (yellow arrows) and the outer tie rod, which connects to the steering knuckle (red arrows).
Figure 1

The tie rods are made up of two parts, the inner tie rod, which connects to the steering rack (yellow arrows) and the outer tie rod, which connects to the steering knuckle (red arrows). Check for the condition of the rubber boots protecting the ball joints at both ends to make sure they are not ripped and leaking grease.

This close up of one side shows where the outer tie rod connects to the steering knuckle (red arrow), where it screws into the inner tie rod (blue arrow) and the rubber boot protecting where the inner tie rod connects to the steering rack (yellow arrow).
Figure 2

This close up of one side shows where the outer tie rod connects to the steering knuckle (red arrow), where it screws into the inner tie rod (blue arrow) and the rubber boot protecting where the inner tie rod connects to the steering rack (yellow arrow).

Where the tie rods connect is where a shop will make changes when doing your alignment (red arrow).
Figure 3

Where the tie rods connect is where a shop will make changes when doing your alignment (red arrow). When you are replacing the tie rods you will need to get the vehicle professionally aligned afterwards but make sure to mark the adjustment area or count the turns when removing the old section. This way when you install the new part you can get it close enough not to do damage to your vehicle while driving to the alignment shop.

Use a 21mm wrench and break loose the retaining nut before you remove the tie rod from the steering knuckle (red arrow).
Figure 4

Use a 21mm wrench and break loose the retaining nut before you remove the tie rod from the steering knuckle (red arrow).

Use a 21mm wrench (red arrow) and a T30 Torx (yellow arrow) to hold the ball joint stud from turning, and remove the nut on the ball joint to the steering knuckle.
Figure 5

Use a 21mm wrench (red arrow) and a T30 Torx (yellow arrow) to hold the ball joint stud from turning, and remove the nut on the ball joint to the steering knuckle.

The ball joints are held in place with a surprising amount of force.
Figure 6

The ball joints are held in place with a surprising amount of force. While you can whack away at the top of the joint with a hammer you really run the risk of bending and/or damaging a part of the suspension. Make sure to use the proper tool; a ball joint separator (red arrow) will make quick and easy work of separating the joint. Note: do not get any part of yourself around the joint when separating, as it has a tendency to let go with substantial force.

With the ball joint free you can now change out the outer tie rod section.
Figure 7

With the ball joint free you can now change out the outer tie rod section.

If you are changing the inner tie rod section or replacing a damaged protective boot (red arrow) you will need to remove the inner section from the steering rack.
Figure 8

If you are changing the inner tie rod section or replacing a damaged protective boot (red arrow) you will need to remove the inner section from the steering rack.

Release the two clamps on the boot, and slide the boot back off the tie rod.
Figure 9

Release the two clamps on the boot, and slide the boot back off the tie rod. Next, use a very large adjustable wrench, and unscrew the inner tie rod joint (red arrow) from the steering rack. Installation is the reverse of removal. Do not forget to get the vehicle aligned.


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