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How long can you drive with failing inner tie-rod ends?

01-02-2008, 09:22 AM
Been thinking about this since reading a thread recently concerning a strange 'popping' sound coming from the front end.

Our Van has been doing this on and off for about 2 years now. Mostly from cold start in the driveway. Probably have an extra 20,000 miles on the Van since the sound was first noticed.

The front end seems solid, and the steering seems tight. There is no shimmy, tire wear or wander on the highway or in town either.

Raising the vehicle, there doesn't appear to be any play in the inner rods or the outer, although the last time I had the van in the air this summer to replace the lower control arms, I noticed that the right side outer tie-rod was a tiny bit looser than the left outer (swiveled on the ball easier). I couldn't identify any play in the inner tie-rods at all.

I haven't seen a replacement inner tie-rod to examine how it is manufactured, but my guess is that the rod end that swivels (in the cup that screws onto the end of the rack) is likely machined to fit inside a socket in this cup (which is filled with grease, I assume).

That leaves me with four questions:

1. If the inner tie-rods are failing and making the noise, how long can it go on before there is a catastrophic failure (separation)?

2. If I remove the bellows cover from the rack end and slide it back, is there anything I need to unfasten or remove (a locking pin perhaps?) before I can remove the inner tie-rod cup by unscrewing it from the rack?

3. Is there a torque spec for torquing it when replacing, or do I care?

4. Can the inner tie-rod be easily unscrewed from the rack with a pipe wrench or is there a trick to it?


01-02-2008, 12:49 PM
Much too important to your safety and your family, you got pop change it now and have a shop do the job you will need an alignment afterwards any way, don't wait

01-03-2008, 09:10 AM
I've driven in this condition for a little while and it takes a very small play to make a lot of rattle. Mine is a '93 but arrangement is quite similar ; I did drop the rack completely to make the change..and that is no small endeavour. HOwever some forum members manufactured special "makeshift" tools to change them "in situ"...I will try to find the references and link them later..
the inner tie rod end is screwed in then press locked in place on a flat you have to unscrew against the lock without stressing the rack....and place for work is scarce... Then once you are able to install the new ones, you must "press lock" them.....that is the bottom line. ALl in all, not an easy prospect....
..but if it happens to me again, I think I would replace the whole rack...while I'm there...

01-20-2008, 07:46 PM
the inner tie rods are locked in place by a washer that is bent over on the wrench flats on the inner end. you have to beat or tap the locks out or up and away from the flats. g.m. techs have a special wrench to remove the inners from the rack. they loosen to the left. don't think you gonna be able to get a pipewrench in the space to get a grip on it. if you know someone that has some scrap flat steel 1/4 " thick you could measure the distance across the flats and get them to cut you a wrench out of the 1/4" steel. i have not checked the inners on mine as no play yet. but my toyota inners took a 30mm wrench. as for how long you can drive with bad inners ....until the ball comes out of the socket.... when this happens things get squerrilly fast

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