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Old 06-21-2018, 01:00 PM   #1
Manospeed
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Default Need technical assistance identifying a problem

Hi Gents,

I changed my Saturn Vue's rotors and brake pads yesterday (first time I ever did this kind of work) as my rotors were warped and rusted. During the installation of the left rotor/pad assembly, I noticed quite a bit of grease on one of the joints.

I have almost no experience with mechanical work besides your standard oil change, basic electrical work, and now rotors brakes. Can someone assist me in identifying this problem, the possible cause, and how realistic would it be for me to fix it despite my lack of experience.

From a tools point of view, I've purchased a floor jack, jack stands, basic ratchet set, a Tekton torque wrench (10-150 ft-.lbs), and a Tekton 1/2-inch drive by 24-inch breaker bar. Are these tools sufficient to repair this?

Thanks
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Old 06-21-2018, 01:15 PM   #2
waiter21
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2003 VUE 2.2L
Default Re: Need technical assistance identifying a problem

Steering tie rod end.. These are permanently lubed, but the boot will crack over time and leak out lubricant..

Wiggle the wheel and see if there is any play in the joint.. If not, you can probably let it go and it will be ok for a while..

You can also replace them.. These run about $25 for both sides. Reasonably easy to change.. If you change them, carefully count the threads exposed (or measure the distance from the end) and put the new ones on in exactly the same distance as the old ones. If you are very careful about the measurement, you should be drive-able, but I'd still get a front end alignment to verify toe-in.

I just looked at mine when I replaced the engine cradle. They have some grease on them, but they are OK, so I'll leave them alone for now.

...
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Originally had 2.2L and Auto trans.

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Old 06-21-2018, 02:01 PM   #3
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Default Re: Need technical assistance identifying a problem

No, don't let it go. Just have a new one put on. Once the boot cracks like that and leaks out the grease, it won't take long for it to fail. A catestrophic failure will leave you unable to steer the car.

It's a relatively cheap repair and will involve a front-end alignment at the end. If it was my car, I'd have both done at the same time (left and right).

Best,

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Old 06-21-2018, 04:27 PM   #4
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Default Re: Need technical assistance identifying a problem

I looked at the other side for any leaks, but it was completely dry. Would I be required to replace both front and rear tie rod ends on both sides or can I just do the rear (I assume the one with the oil leak is the rear)?

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Old 06-21-2018, 06:40 PM   #5
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Default Re: Need technical assistance identifying a problem

Quote:
Originally Posted by Manospeed View Post
I looked at the other side for any leaks, but it was completely dry. Would I be required to replace both front and rear tie rod ends on both sides or can I just do the rear (I assume the one with the oil leak is the rear)?
There is an inner and outer tie rod on both sides.. The outer tie rod (end) is the part you probably see leaking grease. The inner tie rod is the long straight (rod) you see screwed into the part with the stud coming through you spindle (the part the wheel connects to via a hub. It's usually a good idea to change both as they are probably both very worn. I have had a tie rod end failure while driving years ago. I had to get out of my car in heavy traffic while people were yelling and honking, manually turn my front passenger tire in the direction I wanted to move the car, and carefully accelerate..Not fun. At highway speeds you can loose you wheel completely.

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Old 06-21-2018, 07:09 PM   #6
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Default Re: Need technical assistance identifying a problem

Quote:
Originally Posted by Manospeed View Post
I looked at the other side for any leaks, but it was completely dry. Would I be required to replace both front and rear tie rod ends on both sides or can I just do the rear (I assume the one with the oil leak is the rear)?
Go to each tire and and grab at 9 and 3 o'clock. Shake in and out, looking and feeling for play in the joint. If none, I'd leave it alone. Check again the next time you rotate tires or change the oil. How many miles? If getting near 200K, might as well replace all the other common suspension parts, not just this one.

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Old 06-22-2018, 05:44 AM   #7
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Default Re: Need technical assistance identifying a problem

You all missed that his sway bar link was toast

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Old 06-23-2018, 07:26 AM   #8
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Default Re: Need technical assistance identifying a problem

Manospeed, as suggested, jacking the wheel off the ground will allow you to grab the wheel or rotor/caliper at the 9 and 3 o'clock position to push/pull on the wheel hub to see if the tie rod ball joint is worn. The rubber boot acts as a dust cover for grease. The boot is blown or leaking grease and the ball joint may be worn. You can test the other side for comparison. Normally the ball joints are tight like shoulder and hip joints to allow a certain angular range of motion without slop. A worn joint will be loose - you'll have push/pull hard to see and feel a worn joint. As shown in the edited image, the outer tie rod is fastened onto the threaded portion of the steering rod coming from the steering rack. To remove and replace a tie rod requires two wrenches, one on the tie rod flats to hold the tie rod from rotating and the other to loosen the lock nut that prevents the tie rod from turning. A long handled wrench is needed to break loose the lock nut. Don't loosen the lock nut by itself as this strains against the tie rod ball joint. While it won't matter for the old one, tightening the lock nut without restraining the new tie rod from turning may damage the ball joint. The tie rod is aligned to the wheel hub at approximately 90 degrees with the ball joint set perpendicular to the tie rod body. This means screwing on the tie rod to the steering rod so the ball joint points down so the ball joint has its range of motion when steering is full left or right. The ball joint allows for a certain amount of angular motion. Incorrectly mounting a new tie rod can damage or break the ball joint if not paying attention to initial alignment. Google for how tie rods work and youtube videos for how-tos on tie rod removal/replacement. Tie rods are tie rods so it won't matter what car. The tie rod ball joint to wheel hub lock nut also needs to be removed. Once the nut is loosened, the stud may be seized into the wheel hub and difficult to remove. A large ball peen hammer or concrete hammer can be used to bang on the stud end upwards to break loose the stud from the wheel hub. A few hard wacks should do it. The nut can be used to hammer on when the nut is unscrewed to where the top of the nut is level with the stud end, providing a larger surface to hammer on. If you get this far and successfully remove the tie rod from the wheel hub, all that's left is unscrewing the tie rod from the steering rod. Once the other lock nut is loosened, the tie rod can be unscrewed. Count the number of turns it takes to unscrew it from the threaded rod. This will be the number of turns needed to screw on the replacement if the new one is the same length. A rough number may be between 7-15 turns. Another wrench flat on the threaded rod will allow holding the rod against turning while unscrewing the tie rod. Some penetrating oil can help as these threads are dry.

Rockauto and most online stores will have pictures of tie rods.
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Old 06-28-2018, 02:04 PM   #9
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Default Re: Need technical assistance identifying a problem

Gents,

Thank you for the advice. I proceeded and purchased both inner and outer tie rods, along with an Pittsburgh automotive inner tie rod removal tool from Harbor freight, penetrating oil etc.

With that said, I'm having an impossible time finding either the boot kit for the inner tie rod (with front and back clamps) or just the clamps themselves.

Any suggestions on where I can find a boot kit with OEM clamps? I want the car as stock as possible and don't want to mess around with plastic zip ties to hold the inner tie rod boot in place. I live in the northern Midwest part and in the winter they pour tons of salt which will eat through everything.

Thanks

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Old 06-28-2018, 02:51 PM   #10
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Default Re: Need technical assistance identifying a problem

Unless you're absolutely sure both inner and outer tie rods are worn, testing is the way to determine if one or both are faulty. Did you test to see if one or both are worn?

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Old 06-28-2018, 02:56 PM   #11
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Default Re: Need technical assistance identifying a problem

Even with over 200,000 miles I've never replaced inner rods. They are well sealed unless the boots are torn and rarely give trouble unless you hit a curb or something. Don't remember how easy the access is, but while an outer rod is a few minutes job, the inner could turn into a pita.

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