This thread is aimed at those of you who always wanted to learn how to change both inner and outer tie rods, but were too afraid to try it on your own. Pokey and I ran this job in about two and one half hours today while taking pictures. It turns out, I had been hearing rattling coming from the front end for a few weeks, and this is why:
Independent suspension geometry therefore requires an inner and outer tie rod end mounted at approximately the same pivot points as the front lower control arm. The right- and left-side tie rods are connected to each other by a center link, which is also mounted to the Pitman arm on the steering gear and the idler arm on the passenger side of the vehicle. In the straight-ahead position, the Pitman arm, center link and idler arm form a rectangle. When the vehicle is turned, they form a parallelogram, which gives this particular design its name.
Rack and pinion steering is much simpler in design, since the steering gear or rack is mounted directly between the inner and outer tie rod ends. The inner tie rod end is a ball-and-socket design, which forms the body of the tie rod and which is threaded to the outer tie rod end. In most cases, rack and pinion steering gears are sold as “long racks,” which include the inner tie rod ends and boots. Rack and pinion steering is currently the most predominate of the two steering linkage systems.
As you steer your car you are rotating a steering wheel. That steering wheel is connected to a steering shaft which transmits your steering inputs to a power steering gearbox. This gearbox uses the hydraulic pressure from the power steering pump to move the steering gear. The steering gear moves the pitman arm to the left and to the right. The pitman arm is attached to your center link and also moves back and forth with your steering inputs. At each end of the center link there are tie rod ends that connect the center link to the spindles. This design uses two tie rod ends on each side, one inner tie rod one outer tie rod. Having two tie rods allows for maximum flexibility while turning the steering wheel and suspension movement while driving. Over time the tie rod ends can wear out from all the steering and suspension movement. When a tie rod end wears out the spindle is allowed to wobble while the car is in a turn under load. This can cause a vibration in the steering wheel and uneven tire wear. The inner and outer tie rod ends can be replaced separately although we recommend you replace all of them at once. In addition, there is a connecting sleeve that connects both inner and outer tie rods together and also allows the distance between the two to change for your toe adjustment. Due to rust and corrosion on the tie rod threads it is very difficult to break the rust free and thread out the individual tie rods. We recommend you replace the inner tie rod, adjusting sleeve, and outer tie rod as an assembly on each side. In this tech article we will go over all the steps to remove your inner and outer tie rods.