Well after a routine check of my truck after a run I noticed I had some play in the front passenger wheel. I traced it to the steering rack, fearing that I had toasted another rack I grabbed my spare rack (the one I already broke a mounting tab off of) and looked into the issue further. I lucked out, the play was due to a very used Inner Tie Rod, and the 'ball joint' of the Inner Tie Rod had no grease, creating the slack in it. I already had to replace the boots (the cause of the Inner Tie Rod failure) so I took the good boots and a Inner Tie Rod off my spare rack and went at it.
This was a surprisingly easy thing to fix. After figuring out how to get the Inner tie rod off of the rack it was very fast.
NOTE Most pictures are of the spare rack being broken down, You DO NOT need to remove the steering rack. It is acutally easier with it on the truck.
(FYI: you do not need to remove the outer tie rod from the spindle to get the inner tie rod changed. as long as the tire is in the air, and you have loosened the jam nut you can spin the inner tie rod to get the outer out of the inner. it will "toe in" just enough.)
- Socket to remove lug nuts
- Two crescent wrenches or open end wrenches (sizes unknown.. I use a crescent wrench that goes to ~30mm
- Larger MM sockets (19mm+) [I can't remember what sizes]
- Small hammer
- Medium flat screwdriver
- Large Channel Lock pliers
- New Inner Tie Rod (If needed)
New Steering Rack boots (If needed)
- Clamps for steering rack boots
1) Remove your tire
2) Remove the cotter pin from the nut on the Outer Tie Rod
3) Remove the Outer Tie Rod from the spindle with a tie rod puller, or put the nut back on (so that the threads are protected) and hit it with a hammer.
4) Loosen the jam nut on the Outer Tie Rod from the Inner Tie Rod, and unscrew the Outer Tie Rod from the Inner Tie Rod. (mark where your jam nut is so your alignment isn't extremely off.
5) Now cut off the inner clamps on the rack boots, I used large wire cutters. Use your fingers or a pair of pliers to remove the outer clamp (keep this clamp)
6) Pull the boot off, be careful if you are going to re-use the boots... and if they have holes in them you might get dirt/mud flying at you.
7) With the boot off you can inspect the Inner Tie Rod, if there is any play in the joint it needs to be replaced, if it is really hard to move around, put some grease in on the joint and work it around and put some more grease on for good measure.
(Top bad, bottom good ITR)
[Steps 8 and 9 are for replacing the Inner Tie Rod, if you are just replacing the boots, skip to step 10]
8) Take your hammer and screwdriver and bend back the two tabs that lock the Inner Tie Rod in place, the metal is thin so just tap it. With this out of the way, get a LARGE open end wrench or a crescent wrench and break loose the Inner Tie Rod from the steering rack, after it is broken loose, it is easy to unscrew out of the steering rack. Put the new Inner Tie Rod on with the metal washer that is used to lock it in place. Make sure the Inner Tie rod is screwed back into place tightly. I gave the crescent wrench a good hit from the hammer and was satisfied.
9) Now take your channel locks and press the washer around the Inner Tie rod where it was before. Be careful not to damage the Inner Tie Rod joint in the process, make sure the tabs are flat.
10) Take your new or old boots and slide them over the Inner Tie Rod. I used hose clamps to secure the inner side, but the stock clamps would be fine if you got them. Clamp the inner side down, making sure it gets a good seat in the channel. Put the stock clamp back on the outer side, again making sure it seats, there was a small bit of play on mine, but not enough to worry. Hose clamps would work here also.
11) With the Boots and Inner Tie Rod back in place you can screw the Outer Tie Rod back into the Inner Tie Rod. DON'T Tighten the Jam nut yet.
12) Put the Outer Tie Rod back into the Spindle and tighten the nut unitll you can put the cotter pin back in (it is normal to use a new cotter pin)
[repeat for other side if you need to replace the Inner Tie Rod or a boot]
13) Put your tires back on and tighten the lugs to 85 ft/lbs.
14) Take a tape measure and pick a point on the tread of your tires, make sure it’s the same on both tires. Take that measurement and move to the back of the tires, if it is within 1/4" you are pretty close to a 'good' home alignment. If it is off by more than 1/2" I'd adjust the Inner tie rods (where the Outer Tie Rod goes into the Inner Tie Rod) until they are close. Tighten the Jam nuts when you are done
15) Go get your truck aligned at an alignment shop.
(My Alignment specs comming soon)
Left/Right: -1.1 to .6 (deg)
Left/Right: 1.9 to -3.4 (deg)
Left/Right -.04" to .06"
-.5 to .5 (deg)
-.5 to .5 (deg)
-.5 to .5 (deg)
.08" to -.18"
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