Uneven wear on tyres or excessive steering movement could be an indication that the track rod ends that connect to the front wheels have gone beyond their useful life (below left – comapred to new unit) – Roger Taylor explains how to replace the track rod ends.
Before starting work it is advisable to spray all the securing nuts and bolts with a penetrating oil as they are in areas most exposed to dirt and grime and this will ease their removal.
Begin by loosening off the locking nut that secures the bottom of the track rod end unit where it is located to the steering arm – this is often a nylock nut so may need a little bit of brute force.
Once this is loosened do not remove it all the way as it will help to hold the track rod in place when you prize the ball joint apart.
To release the ball joint you will need a specialised ball joint puller (above) that operates a tread to gradually separate the two parts. If you don’t have one of these you can use a lever bar and a lump hammer but this is not recommended as you can do serious damage to the vehicle and yourself – better to get a mechanic with a puller to do the job or borrow one.
Once the joint is free, release the nut (above) that secures the track rod end to the track rod itself and unscrew the end counting the number of revolutions required to remove it completely – make a note so that you can fit the new unit into approximately the correct distance, as each side is likely to be different .
When this was undertaken by Roger on this vehicle there was a difference of four revolutions between the two ends. Then remove the lower securing nut and take off the old track rod end.
Next screw the new track rod ends into place, remembering how many turns to apply before using the nut on the track rod to fit into position and secure into place using a new nylock nut which will align the ball joint – you will need to use some pressure to stop the track rod spinning as you tighten the nylock.
While the car is in a raised position this is a good time to grease the king pins and the suspension joints.
Finally you will need to get the vehicle tracking checked and adjusted (above) so that all four wheels are correctly aligned – many garages offer this service at around £20.
Replacement Track Rods Ends cost £8 each plus VAT.
If you are replacing the track rod ends it is also the perfect opportunity to check the condition of the steering rack gator and replace if necessary.