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Old 07-09-2006, 01:11 AM   #1
batmobile
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Question Replacing outer tie rod boots

Hello, this is my first posting. I have a 94 Saturn SL2 with 178,000 miles and I am doing my best to keep it going! I just changed my front brakes and rotors today and discovered that the tie rod end boots were torn on both sides. Initially, I was quite concerned because I figured I had to replace the whole outer rod. There is not a lot of play in the wheel and it appears as though I can just replace the boot (according to this thread and other info I have seen). I guess my question is how is it done? My trusty Haynes manual doesn't even mention the boot. Do I need to separate the tie rod end from the joint as though I was going to remove it or can I simply remove the cotter pin, castlenut, etc? I also noticed that there was no grease fitting on this joint. Were these made to be greased once and sealed for a 'lifetime'? Thanks for any help you can give. - Jim

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Old 07-09-2006, 03:47 AM   #2
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Default Re: Replacing outer tie rod boots

you just lose the pin, crank off the nut, and pound it out of your knuckle to get at the boot.

"Help" or "need-a" sections of auto parts stores has spare boots but I dont know how well they fit.

IIRC autozone or advance auto has a new tie rod end with boot and grease zerk for only $11 or so.... of course if you unscrew the old unit from the tie rod itself you vastly increase the possibility of messing up your alignment...

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Old 07-09-2006, 09:44 PM   #3
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Default What is the deal with the $11 tie rod end???

Well, for $11 I think I would just go ahead and replace the part since I don't know how long those boots have been torn and sometimes I think I am getting a faint wiggle in the steering....better safe than sorry. I have a lifetime alignment plan on this car that I bought many years ago so it would be free to get that done. I just checked autozone.com and and I don't see the $11 part you mentioned here. Autozone has a valucraft at $23.99 and that is the lowest. Looking at Advanace Auto online yields a "Tread Saver" Tie Rod End for $11.48. The other ones they list are $35-$50. Why the large differences? What am I getting for $11.48? This is my wife's car and we are having a baby soon, so I don't want to be screwing around with something that is not going to work well. Anyone know why the "Tread Saver" is so cheap?

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Old 07-10-2006, 03:43 AM   #4
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Default Re: What is the deal with the $11 tie rod end???

I put those "tread saver" ball joints on my brother in laws bonneville. They seem adequate.

This is USA and an unsafe product would lead to lawsuits so I'm sure the part is safe and fine for use. You're buying from a store backed by partsamerica which is a huge corporation. What would be sketchy would be buying this part on ebay from a gray market importer.

I used to not shop advance auto since their only store was in the ghetto side of town but their website impresses me and they have the best prices on a lot of saturn stuff. So I've come around.

For example, their lower control arm, TRW brand, which is OE, is $68, while the dealer and napa want $120 for the same thing.

They just want your business more and give away fewer hats and free deliveries to pros.

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Old 07-10-2006, 07:37 AM   #5
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Default Re: What is the deal with the $11 tie rod end???

Replace the whole tie rod end. You'll probably want an alignment afterwards too for several reasons- getting the new tie rod back in EXACTLY the same position as the old one won't be easy (remember, a small error in placement yeilds a much larger effect on the toe setting), and that's assuming the old position was good, plus the new tie rod end may be slightly different in size. It's just what I would do.

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Old 07-10-2006, 10:22 AM   #6
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Default Re: What is the deal with the $11 tie rod end???

I agree with Tom. I did the same repair about two months ago. Found the boot was torn, so I replaced the whole tie rod end because the condition of the ball joint didn't seem adequate. It was only ~30$ and it was an easy repair.

-Jeremy

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Old 07-10-2006, 12:25 PM   #7
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Default Do I need a torque wrench?

Thanks for all the help, guys! I have decided to go forward with replacing the tie rod ends. I think another reason why the tread saver parts are so much cheaper is that they have a grease fitting versus the more expensive ones being sealed with no maintenance involved. I can borrow a ball joint puller from Advance at no cost, but I don't have a torque wrench for tighteing the castle nut to specs. How critical is that for this job?

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Old 07-10-2006, 01:15 PM   #8
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Default Re: Replacing outer tie rod boots

I know it has been said that this should be an 'easy' job, but I am not feeling particularly easy about it. I just have a feeling something could go awry. Can anyone think of something in advance here? What if the jam nut is stuck? I am going to try and do this early tomorrow morning and I would like to be prepared.

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Old 07-10-2006, 01:44 PM   #9
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Default Re: Replacing outer tie rod boots

If your going to replace the whole outer tie rod end you'll want some MAPP & Oxy just in case the lock bolt is rusted on there. I started with the worse side first, right side, that way the other side would be a breeze. But don't blame me if you hurt yourself though.

Get the nut red hot, rust flakes off then, then break it.

The knuckle nut should not be that hard though.

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Old 07-10-2006, 03:59 PM   #10
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Default Re: Replacing outer tie rod boots

It truly is a quick and simple job. I just applied some penetrating oil to the jam nut and the castellated nut and they came right off. Also, I don't see why you're going to need a ball joint puller since the tie rod end includes the ball joint.

-Jeremy

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Old 07-10-2006, 04:46 PM   #11
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Default Re: Replacing outer tie rod boots

The jam nut will be your hardest part as well as keeping the middle of the tie rod from spinning. I recommend breaking the jam nut and also the threaded part of the tie rod end loose while the tie rod end is still in the knuckle.

I thought I was hot stuff using a paint mark and counting turns of the old tie rod, compared the old to new (exactly the same) but still wound up with alignment problems.

Getting the old end off is super easy, just take the castle nut off and pound down on the threaded stud that's left with a 2 lb sledge.

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Old 07-11-2006, 10:15 AM   #12
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Default Re: What is the deal with the $11 tie rod end???

Put PB Blaster on the jam nut ahead of time and loosen the jam nut before you take off the castle nut.

Quote:
Originally Posted by eljefino
I used to not shop advance auto since their only store was in the ghetto side of town but their website impresses me and they have the best prices on a lot of saturn stuff. So I've come around.
It's the most convenient parts store from my house and I've found out that if I find a part cheaper at Autozone, they'll match the price.

...
There is nothing more frightening than ignorance in action.

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Old 07-13-2006, 03:41 PM   #13
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Thumbs Up Re: Replacing outer tie rod boots

Hey guys, I just wanted to say 'Thanks' for all the advice. It did it yesterday morning without a hitch! Another successful Saturn repair is done! It was a bit easier than I thought it would be. I put some Kroil on the jam nut, used a 7/8 crow's foot with a breaker bar and it was real easy to free. One thing I should mention about the $11.48 outer tie rod end at Advance: it comes with its own lock nut so you won't be using the castle nut or need new cotter pins with the part. Oh, and I didn't even need to 'mark' the threads with paint or anything before unscrewing it. I found that the different shades of surface rust on the threads provided any easy mark in itself. I also counted revolutions when unscrewing the tie rod end. The alignment shop guy said they only needed to make a minor adjustment so I guess I estimated it pretty good. As mentioned in the last post, I also just found out recently that Advance will match competitor's prices, or at least Autozone. I wish I knew that a long time ago when I used to spend so much time and effort trying to get the cheaper part at the Autozone that was more inconvenient to reach. They may have just recently started doing that but I have never seen it advertised.

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