How to Change Tie Rods

The tie rod ends in your vehicle are what control the direction your vehicle turns. When tie rod ends go bad, they can cause tire wear and looseness in the steering wheel. Your car has four tie rod ends: two inner and two outer. The inner tie rod ends are long rods that connect directly to the steering rack, and the outer tie rods connect to the end of the inner tie rod ends. Replacing the tie rod ends is relatively simple to do.

Jack up the front of the vehicle and secure it on jack stands.

Remove the bolt at the base of the outer tie rod end with a ratchet and socket. The outer tie rod end is at the very end of the steering rack nearest to the wheel.

Separate the tie rod end from the steering knuckle using a ball joint separator. Insert the smallest part of the ball joint separator between the top of the tie rod end and the steering knuckle. Hit the flat side of the separator with a hammer until the tie rod end separates from the knuckle.

Remove the steering rack bellows, the rubber covers at the end of the steering rack. These are removed by cutting the metal straps that hold them in place and pulling them off the rack.

Loosen the inner tie rod end using a wrench. Remove the inner tie rod end by turning the base where it connects to the steering rack.

Pull the inner and outer tie rod ends from the vehicle as one assembly.

Disconnect the old outer tie rod end from the old inner tie rod end and remove the bellows from the inner tie rod end. Put the bellows on the new inner tie rod end, position the hose clamp on it but do not tighten them.

Connect the new inner and outer tie rod ends by spinning the outer tie rod end onto the inner tie rod end. Make the overall length of the new assembly roughly the same length as the assembly you removed from the vehicle.

Screw the inner tie rod end into the steering rack; tighten it down with the wrench.

Push the outer tie rod end into the steering knuckle where the old one was removed.

Screw the nut onto the base of the outer tie rod end and tighten it with the ratchet and socket. Tighten the locking nut on the inner tie rod end until it is snug against the outer tie rod end.

Push the bellows over the steering rack and tighten the hose clamp to hold it in place. Tighten the small clamp around the small end, securing it to the inner tie rod end. Use either a screwdriver or a ratchet and socket, depending on the type of clamp.

Repeat Steps 2 through 12 for the tie rod ends on the other side.


Take your vehicle to a repair facility to have it aligned after performing this repair.

Things You'll Need

  • Jack
  • Jack stands
  • Ratchet
  • Socket set
  • Combination wrench set
  • Ball joint separator
  • Hose clamps (one large and one small)
  • Side cutters
  • Screwdriver set
  • Hammer
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About the Author

Justin Cupler is a professional writer who has been published on several websites including CarsDirect and Cupler has worked in the professional automotive repair field as a technician and a manager since 2000. He has a certificate in broadcast journalism from the Connecticut School of Broadcasting. Cupler is currently studying mechanical engineering at Saint Petersburg College.