Ford Escorts have a rack and pinion steering system to turn the front wheels left and right. The steering wheel is connected to the rack and a gear drives a pinion to turn the wheels. The tie rod connects to the pinion and the wheel hub. Whether your Escort has standard drum brakes or optional disc brakes, it makes no difference to the tie rod connection to the wheel hub. The tie rods are adjustable in length and align the Escort's wheels, keeping them parallel to the car's centerline.
Tie Rod Replacement
Tie rods are engineered to only resist compression. Any strike to the tie rod by a road hazard can break it. Also, many drivers who want to improve the Escort's performance will replace the standard tie rod with a part more responsive and able to handle aggressive driving. Also, the tie rod ends that connect to the pinion and the wheel hub bracket can wear over time and result in the Escort losing proper front-end alignment.
Although there's no reason to remove the brakes on a Ford Escort to access the tie rod, you do need to take off the wheel and also raise the car on a sturdy jack stand. Use the tire jack to raise the Escort's frame as least 13 inches. Once up insert the jack stand adjusted to 12 inches under the Escort's side frame (located just inside the lower edge of the bumper panel behind the wheel well). Lower the tire jack one inch. You can now remove the five lug nuts and take off the wheel to remove the tie rod on one side of the car. Repeat this procedure when removing the second tie rod on the opposite side.
Locate the Tie Rod
Once the wheel is off, turn the steering wheel so the wheel hub rotates with the rear section point out--turning right for the left hub and left for the right hub. You can now see the tie rod between the wheel hub and pinion behind the brakes.
Remove the Tie Rod
Where the tie rod attaches to the wheel hub is a large six-sided bolt securing the end. Remove the bolt. On most vehicles you may need to get a large screwdriver or other wedge to pry the tie bar loose. Just insert the wedge blade between the tie rod end and the bracket and give a tap with a rubber mallet.
The tie rod is threaded into the Escort's pinion. Before removing mark on the tie rod where the threading is exposed. This indicates the tie rod's depth for wheel alignment. As you unscrew the tie rod be sure to accurately count the number of turns to remove it from the Escort. This is a double-check of the tie rod's depth in addition to the thread marking.