Question about Dodge Grand Caravan
Hi, the important thing on inner tie rod ends is to distinguish between rack motion and ball joint play. There will always be some play in the rack. What you have to do is to unclamp and then peel the boot back off of the joint. Then, with the wheel off the ground, pull the joint from the tie rod in every direction. The most critical direction is along the rack. Any play along the direction of the rack will add to the normal play in the steering wheel. I new tie rod has no play at all. Some play certainly develops early in the life of the joint, but if the boot has torn open, chances are the joint is now wearing rapidly. They can also wear out even with a perfectly good boot. If you can feel play in the joint when there is no motion in the rack, the joint is worn; however, play up to about 1/16 inch is probably not worth the effort to repair until it gets worse or unless you plan to keep the vehicle on the road an additional 5 years or more.
To replace the inner tie rod, the procedure varies with model. I will provide a general procedure, and if you reply with your model and year I can update with any specifics you might need to know. Usually the inner rod will unscrew from the rack using a large open end or adjustable wrench. There may be a pin or a sleeve that is pushed into an indent that locks the joint from turning. The pin or sleeve indent will have to be taken out or pulled up with a small screwdriver before unscrewing the joint. In some cases, a pipe wrench may be needed to loosen the joint. When putting that much torque into the joint, it is advisable to also put a wrench on the rack to avoid twisting it.
Screw the joint all the way off the rack and then loosen the outer tie rod lock nut. Do not unscrew the lock not--just loosen it slightly. What you want to do is to get the adjustment of the new tie rod end to match the old one. In this way, you may be able to avoid getting an alignment afte the repair. If you plan to get an alignment anyway then this is not critical. However, if you have to drive the car to an alignment shop, it is best to have it adjusted close to right.
Now, before unscrewing the inner tie rod from the outer tie rod, hold the new inner tie rod end up to theold one to make sure they are the same length. If not, you will need to adjust the lock nut so that the length fron the locknut to the rack is the same. Either way, measure the distance from the locknut to the end of the inner tie rod with the joint aligned along the direction of the rod. Then, unscrew it from the outer tie rod. Screw the new inner tie rod onto the outer tie rod until it is that same length. Then tighten the lock nut. Now you need to screw the inner tie rod onto the rack. This can be difficult as the new joint will be stiff. If you have trouble getting it started on the threads consider removing the outer joint from the steering knuckle to get a better angle with the rack. This is done by loosening the nut on the joint to the end of the bolt and tapping the nut with a hammer to break the taper loose. Then remove the nut and pull the wheel back to give yourself some room. Once you have the inner rod screwed on, use whatever the design allows for locking it in place. If there is no locking mechanism, that's probably OK, as I have never seen one come unscrewed. Once you have it on tight, put the outer joint back together and put a new cotter pin on the outer joint nut. If you have questions or would like some pictures for your particular car, I will try to get them--just send the model and year.
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Posted on Jan 03, 2011
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Posted on Jan 02, 2017
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