How to Replace Inner Tie Rod
How to Replace Inner Tie Rod
The inner tie rods don't wear easily, but swapping one out that is busted can be easily done at home.
Tie rods are the rods that turn the wheels of a car. They're typically split into two parts. The outer tie rod is the half that connects directly to the steering knuckle, or hub, where the wheel is attached. It is connected to the inner tie rod, which connects directly to the steering rack. The inner tie rod has a ball joint that allows the entire tie rod to pivot up and down and left and right. Like any joint, it can get worn out after many miles, causing the steering to bind or feel unresponsive. If the rubber boot protecting the joint is torn or otherwise damaged, it's likely that the ball joint inside is bad, too. Luckily, replacing the inner tie rod isn't terribly difficult. Old ones can be stubborn due to corrosion, but the actual process is relatively uncomplicated.
Step 1 – Lift front end
Before anything, life the front end of the Civic and secure it with jack stands. You'll need to remove the wheel to access the tie rods.
Step 2 – Disconnect the outer tie rod
Begin by removing the outer tie rod end. You can identify the tie rod as the bar attached to the wheel hub and steering rack at the center of the car. If you turn the steering wheel, the tie rod will push or pull the hub in the direction you're steering.
The outer tie rod is secured to the wheel hub by a flexible rubber joint secured by a castle nut and cotter pin. Use pliers to remove the cotter pin first. Then, use a 17mm socket to remove the castle nut.
After the nut has been removed, separate the tie rod end from the wheel hub. You can do this by using either a pickle fork or ball joint separator to pry the two apart. Otherwise, try whacking the side of the steering knuckle where the tie rod is connected with a hammer. The shock should cause the tie rod end to pop out. DO NOT hit the tie rod end (or anything else, frankly) with a hammer.
The final step is to twist off the outer tie rod. Before doing this, be sure to measure the amount of thread that's exposed where the outer tie rod meets the inner tie rod. This is important. Later, you'll need to re-install the tie rod end to this distance.
Step 3 – Remove inner tie rod boot
The inner tie rod is protected by a rubber boot that keeps dirt from contaminating the ball joint inside. Use pliers to pull off the outer clip on the side closest to you. Another band clamp secures the boot at the end closest to the steering rack. Cut this and pull it off and replace it with a screw clamp or another pinch clamp when re-installing. Remove the nut on the threads of the outer tie rod end and pull off the boot.
Step 4 – Remove the inner tie rod
There are a few ways to remove the inner tie rod. You can use an inner tie rod tool, which can be rented from your local auto parts store. This is a special wrench that slides over the inner tie rod end and torques the ball joint. This is generally thought of as the easiest way. Slide the tool over the ball joint, connect it to a wrench with a 1/2" adapter, and twist it counter-clockwise. Alternatively, use a crescent wrench to remove the ball joint while using another wrench to prevent the steering rack from turning.
Once loosened, continue turning to remove the tie rod end. The lock washer between the steering rack and the ball joint should fall out.
Step 5 – Install new tie rod
Fit the new lock washer to the end of the new inner tie rod that faces the steering rack. The tabs on the lock nut should be pointing towards the center of the car as you go to install the new inner tie rod. Make sure those tabs line up with the gaps on the steering rack.
Tighten the tie rod end to 40 lb/ft. Liberally apply grease to the ball joint housing, taking care to keep it off the threads for the outer ball joint. Finally, slip the boot back on over the inner tie rod. Secure the side closest to the steering rack with a CV clamp or screw clamp. Re-install the tie rod clip with pliers. Re-install the nut to the base of the tie-rod end threads.
Lastly, re-install the outer tie rod end. Screw it on so that the same amount of thread you measured earlier is exposed before reattaching it to the steering knuckle.
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