When Micah and I were renewing the front brake system on the ’63 Comet, we noticed the boot on the outer tie rod on the driver’s side had been split open. We had heard some occasional clunking while going around corners, so this was not a complete surprise. Well, Macrina and I finally had a chance to get to that this week (Micah was out of town). If you haven’t done this before but you’re interested in giving it a try, read through the steps below, with the picture from Macrina and I, and you’ll learn it’s really not all that difficult. With some basic tools you can save yourself the $150 or so that a garage would charge you for doing it.
Here’s what we started with. If you look carefully, you can see the split in the boot:
After taking this picture, we soaked down the castle nut and the nut and bolts on the clamp with some PB Blaster and let it sit for a few hours. Then we began.
Macrina removed the hub cap and loosened the lug nuts:
Once that is done, jack up the car and put it on a jack stand. I keep the jack on the car as well, for some redundancy, even though the jack stand is holding the driver’s front corner up. Here is what you’ll then see. Remove the cotter pin:
Pin removed, loosen and remove castle nut. Then use ball joint separator to pop the tie rod down and out. Put the forks in there, and then hammer on the end of the handle [HT: Thom L for letting us borrow his forks]:
Once out, this will be your situation:
At this point, I had to loosen the nut and bolt holding the clamp together. The tie rod, as you can tell from the next picture, is threaded, and screws into a threaded sleeve that is held tightly by the clamp. It was too corroded to loosen at first, so we soaked this really well in PB blaster for another hour.
The threaded portion that goes into the sleeve is pointing down in this pic. The end with the threads and hole goes up into the knuckle and is where the castle nut and cotter pin go. So, once the PB Blaster had soaked in, Macrina marked where on the threads the old tie rod had screwed into the sleeve:
This will let us compare the old to the new and mark the new, so we get the alignment at least close to where it had been. The tie rod was still a bear to get out, but with a pipe wrench and some elbow grease it came loose. Do note: the tie rod had a left handed thread, which meant is unscrewed by turning *clockwise* (i.e. “righty tighty, left loosey” did not apply in this case). Here’s the old one removed and the new one, just started:
Once screwed in to the marked position, line up the tie rod with the knuckle and gently tap it up into place. Once done, tighten down the castle nut and insert new cotter pin:
Now, the new tie rod came with a grease zerk to be screwed in. Here you can see the zerk and the hole on the back side of the tie rod:
So, with everything hooked up, screw the zerk in until snug. Don’t overtighten. Snug is good:
That’s all there is to it! We put the tire back on, removed jack and stands and were set. Now, it is wise to add some grease to the zerk. Our grease gun was at the farm, so we’ll be buying a second for here in town in the next couple of days and adding some in before doing any extensive driving. The car is still in need of alignment, but at least we save ourselves the expense of an outer tie rod. One thing to consider, is that often when replacing the out tie rod, it makes sense to replace the inner and replace them as a set. In this case, we replaced the one with the split boot, but an argument could be made that we should’ve replaced both and if pressed, I’d have to admit that would be a good recommendation. In that case, both ends are similar and the steps will be essentially the same.