How To: Replace steering inner tie rod end

Discussion in 'How-To's' started by paul01zx2, Oct 7, 2013.

  1. paul01zx2

    paul01zx2 FEOA Member

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    2001 Ford Escort ZX2 5-speed 257K+ miles

    I finally needed to replace the (original) L inner tie rod end on my ZX2. I have done plenty of outers and they are fairly easy but I never had done an inner.

    This procedure should be the same for all 91+ Escort/Tracer and 98+ ZX2

    I used Motorcraft MES3066 for the replacement inner tie rod.

    I started by pulling back the inner tie rod end bellows from the steering rack end so that I could measure the distance from the end of the inner tie rod end attaching nut to the center (grease fitting) on the outer tie rod end. I will use this dimension to set the existing outer tie rod into the new inner so that the alignment (Toe) will be about where it had been. The bellows is held to the rack with a stainless steel band clamp and to the inner tie rod with a simple squeeze clamp. With the bellows slid out you can see the end of the rack where the inner is attached:

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    Loosen (slightly) the inner-to-outer tie rod end jam nut then remove the outer tie rod end from the spindle. In my case this was very easy since I had recently replaced this part and used anti-seize on the tapered stud/hole and the threads on the end on the inner where the outer/jam nut screws on:
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    Next remove the outer tie rod from the inner:
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    Remove the jam nut and then slide off the bellows:
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    Here is the old bellows, outer clamp, and outer tie rod end. All will be re-used:
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    Here are detailed pics on the nut on the inner tie rod where it attaches to the end of the rack:
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    The nut needs to be unscrewed from the end of the steering rack. Its installed very tightly and there is not a lot of working room. A special inner tie rod end tool is required which I had. This tool is not inexpensive - perhaps they can be rented - but there really is no other way that I can see to get that nut off. This tool comes with a series of spanner wrenches that attach to the end to the drive tube. The size for the nut on the inner is 1-3/16". A second wrench is used on the rack (behind the nut on the inner) to reduce the twisting load on the rack teeth when the nut is broken loose:

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    To be continued...
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2013
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  2. paul01zx2

    paul01zx2 FEOA Member

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    Here is the old inner (bottom) off the car next to my new Motorcraft inner. Although slightly different the overall length and nut hex size (1-3/16") were the same:
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    Here is what the threaded stud on the end of the rack looks like. I still have the support wrench on the rack:
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    The new inner installed on the end of the rack. I coat the threads for the outer tie rod/jam nut with anti-sieze compound. The special tool is used to tighten the nut with the support wrench used to counter the tightening torque of 35 Ft-LBs:
    [​IMG]

    I cleaned up the original bellows and clamp before installing them. However the original clamp just did not want to go back on and instead of fighting with it I ended up using a large nylon tie strap:

    Before:
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    After:
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    Re-install the bellows over the inner tie rod. Then install the jam nut and the outer tie rod using the measurement taken earlier to set the position of the outer tie rod end on the inner tie rod. Re-install the outer into the spindle and install the rack bellows over the new inner's nut:

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    Last edited: Oct 8, 2013
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  3. denisond3

    denisond3 Moderator Staff Member

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    Excellent write up and pictures! I got the Inner Tie Rod Removal Tool in a set (3 sizes of 'jaws') from ebay for about $35. I used a 3" radiator hose screw clamp to secure the inner end of the bellows.
  4. EscorGo

    EscorGo FEOA Donator

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    You can borrow the tools from places like Autozone, O'Reilly's, etc. Nice writeup. I maintain the correct length by counting the number of turns of the outer rod end.
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  5. ivmikh

    ivmikh New Member

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    Why did you decide to change the inner tie rod?
  6. dchawk81

    dchawk81 FEOA Member

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    My Autozone doesn't have that style inner tie rod tool. They only have the Saginaw type. I ended up buying the crow's foot style from Harbor Freight. Glad I did because my replacement tie rods were bigger than my old ones, as well as a different design. I used two different adapters that came in the kit.

    And those bands are not designed to be reused.
  7. dchawk81

    dchawk81 FEOA Member

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    Because they go bad, just like ball joints and outers. Mine were floppy doodles, just like ball joints and outers. New ones stay in position.
  8. Maxwelhse

    Maxwelhse FEOA Member

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    Throwing this out there because I just did this job and wasn't able to find much information ahead of time when doing a MANUAL rack...

    Manual steering cars use a different inner tie rod (it has male threads and the rack is female) and goofy little locking clips that are supposed to keep the tie rod from backing out later. The tabs on the clips must be broken off/pushed back with a large screw driver or pry bar before you can take the inners off. There are 4 tabs that each grab one of the 4 flat sides of the tie rod. All 4 must be broken off (not hard to do).

    The clips are designed to work like axle nuts where both sides of the clips are peened into depressions in the rack with a hammer and punch (the tabs go around the "nut" part of the tie rod and there is a circular part that goes around the rack. That circular part is what is supposed to be peened to the rack). The problem is that those depressions on the rack are facing front-to-back where it is literally impossible to get a punch and hammer in as opposed to up-and-down (where it would be dead simple to swing a hammer and deform them). Unless someone knows a trick I do not (which happens all the time) it is literally impossible to lock the inners, with the supplied hardware, without pulling the rack out of the car.

    What I did is add 5/8" grade 8 lock washers in between the inners and the rack (remember, the tie rods are made exactly opposite of those shown above so the lock washer do have 2 flat surfaces to compress against. I also used Moog EV276 inners, which had about another 1/8" of thread compared to stock, so approximately the same amount of thread went into the rack as stock despite the extra thickness), a boatload of red loctite, and torqued them down. The torque spec on the manual rack is way higher too. Like 80ft-lbs. I can't remember exactly, but the torque spec is included with the Moog part.

    I wish I would have taken some pictures while I was doing it, but I think you should get the general idea. To lock the inners on a manual car you need to pull the rack if you want to use the supplied hardware. I think the lock washers and loc-tite are going to work out fine.

    I added some pictures of the tie rod that may help you understand what I'm trying to say.

    tierod.jpg
    clip.jpg

    Otherwise everything about the job on a car with a manual rack is pretty much the same as a power rack. I used the exact same Lisle tool and everything. Pretty straight forward job.
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2015
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