Vehicle tie rods are adjustable bars that connect your vehicle's front wheels to the steering system. Tie rods have inner and outer ends and a coupling sleeve in between. The inner and outer ends connect to the steering system and wheels by means of a ball and socket joint and a tapered stud. These studs tend to force themselves into their mounting holes and can be difficult to remove without proper tools and techniques. Replacing your worn tie rods will improve vehicle handling and safety. Doing the job yourself will save you a significant amount of money.
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Things you need
- Vehicle jack
- Jack stand
- 3/8-inch socket set
- Needle-nose pliers
- Tie rod puller (pickle fork)
Jack up the front end of the vehicle with the jack under the vehicle frame, on the side of the tie rod end you wish to remove. Jack up the vehicle until the wheel attached to the tie rod is off the ground.
Stabilise the jacked vehicle with one or more jack stands. Place them where they will support the vehicle frame and help take the weight load off of the vehicle jack.
Remove the retaining nut on the inner tie rod end with the 3/8-inch socket set. Some tie rod nuts have a cottar pin installed for safety; if your vehicle has one, remove the pin with the needle-nose pliers before removing the retaining nut.
Place the tines of your tie rod puller (pickle fork) into the joint between the inner tie rod end and the rest of the steering system. You will be able to identify the proper location by looking for a rubber boot sandwiched between the tie rod end and the steering system. Place the open tines of the tie rod puller there.
Separate the inner tie rod end from the steering system by hammering on the end of the pickle fork until the tie rod is forced out of its seat. Depending on the age of the vehicle or condition of the steering system, this may require significant hammering force before the tie rod dislodges.
Tips and warnings
- While tie rod pullers (pickle forks) are not common household tools, they are available at most auto parts stores.
- If you have access to an air compressor, an air-powered reciprocating pickle fork will ease the removal of the tie rod ends. Force the powered pickle fork into the tie rod joint and activate the tool.
- Exercise care when jacking your vehicle; improperly placed jacks can cause injury or death.
- Wear safety glasses when performing this job; hammering on a pickle fork could cause metal shards to fly loose and enter your eyes.
- The act of forcing a tie rod end free will likely destroy the rubber boot on the joint, so do not remove tie rod ends unless you intend to replace them with new parts.
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