B5 – Tie Rod End Replacement

  B5, DIY

A quick background, I had a slight shimmy in my 1.8TQMS. In the hunt, I did the fool proof wheel bearing check. This is where you have the car on a jack, and you try to wiggle the wheel. There should be NO play. I found that I could move the wheel back and forth (your hands at 3-9 on the wheel) a significant amount. Well looking around I found this:

You can see the damage.  I went to ESC Tuning and purchased their Tie rod end kit for both sides plus new hardware, shipped for just under $100. I would rate this job a fairly easy 2.  Where as the timing belt job is a 7 or 8.  No real special tools or skill are required.

The Disclaimer!  I am not a mechanic and probably neither are you if your reading this. This article if for general guidance only and if you break yourself or your car it is your own fault!!!

What you’ll need:

  • Jack and Jack-stands
  • Torque wrench
  • 14 and 16mm sockets
  • 18mm and 22mm box end (however a 22mm crows foot is recommend, I got one for $3 at Autozone)
  • ruler or some other measuring device.

What else did I use?

  • Blue thread lock, silver anti-seize
  • Channel locks
  • Hex key set

I used the Bently CD as a guide, but keep in mind if you use it that its description is to remove THE ENTIRE TIE ROD not just the end.  It has an excellent diagram of how things go, and of course the appropriate torque settings.

Jack up the car and remove the wheel.  If you haven’t seen Andy_TN `s outstand pics of the proper jack/jack stand points here it is.

Getting to work

  1. Jack the car up and get it on the stands. While this is safer then leaving it on the stand you will need the jack. From the lower control arm, jack the entire suspension back up, so that is back at a “normal” height.  This will make it much easier to remove stuff and make sure everything is lined back up later.
  2. Next measure the distance from the back of the tie rod to the lock nut (1).You will need to know this for reassembly.  The more precise this measurement is the better.  I had my car aligned after this procedure, however the tech said the toe-in was just fine so if you are careful here you may not have to shell out for an alignment.
  3. Use your 22mm box end or crows foot and loosen the lock nut (1). Brace the tie rod with a 18mm box end directly behind or you can do like I did and grab with the channel locks CAUTION do not damage this 18mm adjustment hex, as this is what is used to set the toe in of your car. The nut (1) only goes on with 30 ft/lbs of torque so it came off easily.
  4. Remove top bolt (2) with 14mm socket and nut (3) with the 16mm. The side nut (3) is on a self hold bolt, as you back it off, it will try to turn, just hold it in (towards you) while you undo the nut. Remove and discard the old hardware except for the lock nut. (you got the hardware kit like I told you RIGHT!)
  5. Pull down firmly on the tie rod, it will be pretty tight, you can wedge something between control arm and the suspension structure if your are stuck. I was able to remove mine with just a slight wiggling of the rod while I pulled down.Once it is loose, just unscrew the tie rod from the adjustment hex. (The 18mm thing you held)
  6. Take the lock nut (1) and thread it back on the new tie rod to the distance you measured in step 2, plus one or two turns. This is where I used a little bit of the silver anti-seize compound on the threads of the new tie rod end and then thread the tie rod back through the adjustment hex, back up to the lock nut. Measure one more time and finger tighten the lock nut.
  7. Make sure that the groove in the upright of the new rod end is aligned with where the side bolt (3) will go through.This is where are big hex key or hex socket comes in handy to turn the upright. Now run the tie rod back in.  Again it will be very tight, a little wiggling will be necessary.  Avoid the temptation of hitting it from below, as this is where the actual joint is.  Adjusting the jack stand up and down a little may help. Also if your measuring wasn’t exact this maybe a problem as the upright needs to be exactly in line with the hole.
  8. Now you can replace the top bolt (2) and side nut (3).I looked all through Bentley and could not find a specific torque value for these two.  They were not on there particularly tight when I took them off, so I used 30lbs, with a couple of drops of blue thread lock. [Ed. Note: This is too high, it actually should be torqued to 7nM (5 ft-lb) ]
  9. Tighten the lock nut (1) to 30lbs (if you are using the crows foot connected to your torque wrench) or “pretty tight” if you are using a box end wrench.

All done! Replace the wheel, and do the other side.  Not only did this get rid of the shimmy, but also the front end feels noticeably tighter.  The first side took about 30 minutes as I figured stuff out, and the other about 10.

Good Luck.


(Original: http://www.audiworld.com/tech/wheel29.shtml)  – By Chris Haigh


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