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Front Tie Rod End Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Front Tie Rod End Replacement

Steve Vernon

Time:

2 hours2 hrs

Tab:

$15 to $175

Talent:

**

Tools:

19mm socket, large adjustable wrench, pliers, floor jack, jack stands, wheel chocks, safety glasses, torque wrench, lug wrench

Applicable Models:

Porsche 944 Turbo (1986-89)

Parts Required:

Front inner and outer tie rod ends, tie rod boot

Hot Tip:

Measure the tie rod length

Performance Gain:

Replace faulty tie rod end, restore firm steering

Complementary Modification:

Have vehicle professionally aligned

The front tie rod end has three parts, the outer tie rod end, inner tie rod end and tie rod boot. The inner and outer tie rod ends have ball joint sockets on each connecting end. These sockets wear over time creating free-play in the steering, which can lead to tire wear and an undesirable steering feel. 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 outer tie rod end, squeeze boot and locate socket of inner tie rod and repeat wiggle test. The outer tie rod ball joint boot is subject to ripping and should be inspected at least once a year. The nice thing is you can replace just the outer ball joint without having to remove the whole tie rod.

Raise and support the front of the vehicle on jack stands and remove the engine tray. See our tech articles on these procedures for additional information.

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

There are two tie rods on the front of the vehicle that connect the steering rack (red arrows) to the spindles (yellow arrows).
Figure 1

There are two tie rods on the front of the vehicle that connect the steering rack (red arrows) to the spindles (yellow arrows).

You will need to remove the tie rod end (yellow arrow) whether you are just changing the end or the whole tie rod.
Figure 2

You will need to remove the tie rod end (yellow arrow) whether you are just changing the end or the whole tie rod. If you are replacing the entire tie rod you will need to disconnect it from the steering rack (red arrow).

Inspect the condition of the tie rod outer ball joint.
Figure 3

Inspect the condition of the tie rod outer ball joint. This one is shot, as the rubber is ripped, and the joint is contaminated with dirt and debris (red arrow).

Begin removal by using a set of pliers to straighten out the cotter pin and pull it from the top of the ball joint shaft (red arrow).
Figure 4

Begin removal by using a set of pliers to straighten out the cotter pin and pull it from the top of the ball joint shaft (red arrow).

Use a 19mm socket and remove the nut (red arrow).
Figure 5

Use a 19mm socket and remove the nut (red arrow).

Depending on the age and condition of the tie rod end, you may need to use a pickle fork or ball joint remover (red arrow) to separate the ball joint from the spindle.
Figure 6

Depending on the age and condition of the tie rod end, you may need to use a pickle fork or ball joint remover (red arrow) to separate the ball joint from the spindle. If you are planning on reinstalling the same ball joint, use a ball joint remover, as the pickle fork usually destroys the rubber boot.

Measure and mark the installation position of the outer tie rod end (red arrow) or count the turns when removing.
Figure 7

Measure and mark the installation position of the outer tie rod end (red arrow) or count the turns when removing. This helps with getting the alignment as close as possible when replacing it. Use two adjustable wrenches. Holding the tie rod in the space in the arm that is provided (yellow arrow) with one wrench, use the other to loosen and remove the ball joint (green arrow).

If you are replacing the inner ball joint, pull the boot (red arrow) off the steering rack (yellow arrow) with your hands.
Figure 8

If you are replacing the inner ball joint, pull the boot (red arrow) off the steering rack (yellow arrow) with your hands.

Use a large adjustable wrench and unscrew the ball joint end (red arrow) from the steering rack.
Figure 9

Use a large adjustable wrench and unscrew the ball joint end (red arrow) from the steering rack. There should be very little force needed to loosen the joint. There is a taper in the nut. Holding the tie rod on, gently tap this back so you can loosen it. If you are worried about applying too much force or yours seems stuck, you can wrap the steering shaft in a rag and hold it with vise grips while loosening the joint. Just make sure not to marr the steering shaft joint.

Here you can see the groove that the tie rod nut sits in (red arrow).
Figure 10

Here you can see the groove that the tie rod nut sits in (red arrow).

If you are replacing the complete tie rod, lay the old one on your bench and measure it, and set the replacement new one to the same length.
Figure 11

If you are replacing the complete tie rod, lay the old one on your bench and measure it, and set the replacement new one to the same length. You will still need to get the vehicle aligned, but this will get you close enough that you can drive to the alignment shop without doing damage. Transfer over the dust boot if your new tie rod did not come with one. Installation is the reverse of removal.

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