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Bad Tie Rods?

04-22-2009, 10:33 AM
How can I tell if my tie rods and ball joints need to be replaced? 2001 Ford Econoline E150 XLT.

04-22-2009, 08:41 PM
C'mon, no one out there able to answer this question????

04-22-2009, 09:03 PM
ok jack your truck up one side at a time and take your hands and grab tire at the sides and wiggle it back and forth and see if theres play in the tie-rod nuckles if so replace and for ball-joints jack the same way but get your jack as close as you can on the under neath get it close as you can to jack up under ball-joint for checking lower ball joints and take a pry bar and pry up under tire and see if you have up and down movement if so it's bad. you can also tell by the grease zerts wipe zerts clean and see if the nuckle inside is pushing the zert out off ball-joint and same way with tie-rods. another thing is check bearings by grabing top of tire with one hand the other hand at bottom and push in and out to see if you have allot of play in bearings....good luck.....

04-22-2009, 10:50 PM
Thanks Scrapper!

I noticed from the Ford service manual that there should be a 15 - 20 degrees of 'rotation' on the outer tie rods. In other words, if ya grab one of the tie rods and twist it 'vertically', there should be some rotational play at the tie rod knuckles. However, as you say there should be no 'horizontal' play at the knuckles. I'm just trying to get some expert advice because I feel I'm being sold a bill of goods that I don't need to the tune of $2,000 for tie rods, upper and lower ball joints, new shocks. A Goodyear tech used a large plyers to show vertical ( rotational ) play at the tie rod knuckles which he said indicated bad tie rods.

04-23-2009, 10:50 AM
Please get a 2nd opinion. The tie rod has an internal spring which allows it to move when the wheel is turning. Squeezing the tie rod with a pair of pliers is an old trick that has been around forever. I can't believe he did that. There is nothing wrong with your tie rods as far as veritcal movement. Like Scrapper says, jack up the wheel and take hold of it at 9 oclock and 3 oclock. Move back and forth. Any play? Tie rods.

04-29-2009, 09:25 AM
Thanks Davescort97! Will do! Yes, the 'display' by this tech and sales gal was unbelievable now that I know the tie rods should 'rotate' vertically at the knuckles. I checked a couple of new vans and, sure enough, I could grab a tie rod and 'rotate' it somewhat to the same extent I can on my van. One has to wonder how many car owners are being ripped off for unnecessary repairs.

04-29-2009, 09:52 AM

After I contacted Goodyear customer support about my perceived consumer fraud regarding an misleading diagnosis ( $2,000 for new tire rods, ball joints, shocks ) of one of its dealers, Goodyear sent me to another dealer to determine whether I do, in fact, need new ball joints, tie rods, and shocks. This sedond dealer found NOTHING wrong with my tie rods and could see no problem with my shocks. There was some very slight play in one front wheel due to an apparent worn 'camber bushing'. A check of the alignment showed an out of spec camber ( -0.5 degrees for spec of -.3 degrees to 0.8 degrees ) and out of spec toe ( 0.29 degrees for spec of -0.10 degrees to 0.16 degrees ). Net - I need a new camber bushing and a suggested new set of upper and lower ball joints....$775!

Then Goodyear customer service, as a courtesy, offers to replace my slightly worn ( Forterra ) tires ( outer edge feathering on ALL four tires ) for my merely paying $32 / tire to mount. Interesting?

From the beginning, my point in all this was to determine the root cause of the slight feathering of ALL four tires ( inner and outer edges ) - approximately one inch inward from the edges. Essentially a 'flattening' of the original rounded edges of the new Fortera tires. Only one tire, the divers side tire, has more feathering on the inner edge - the tire mounted on the wheel having the supposed camber bushing problem.

Nevertheless, I'm still trying to determine the root cause of feathering on inner and outer edges of ALL four tires! Normal wear? Given that these tires had only 8000 miles on them and given that the tires have not yet been rotated, one has to question why the rear tires were experiencing the same inner and outer feathering as the front tires.

Goodyear, are you listening? Poor Fortera thread design for van utilization?

Thoughts anyone?

04-30-2009, 08:18 AM
Are the Forterra tires a Goodyear product? If the dealer is so kind as to replace them at a low cost - I would assume they knew the tires would continue to wear adversely.

05-04-2009, 08:57 AM
Just a related note. I have a 1999 Econoline 150. A year ago I saw some inner wear on the driver's front tire. I went to a local alignment shop and they started finding all kinds of things wrong. Starting with ball joints but they wanted to replace "everything from the radiator to the tail pipe and all in-between".

I checked (as described above) and the ball joints did need to be replaced. They wanted $660 so I went to Advance Auto and got all four ball joints for $13 each and they lent me a press to push the old ones out and install the new ones. It was a bear of pressing but I did it.

Then I went to another alignment shop and they said I needed new ball joints. HUH? Two weeks later I took it in for inspection and they checked it. The ball joints were fine (of course).

I'm wondering if these shops just don't want to take on the alignment because of the bushings. Do a lot of vehicles use bushings verses some screw adjustment method?

I can see how "guestimating" what replacement bushing is needed can be a problem.

(1) You have to know what the camber change and castor change needs to be. And changing the bushing effects both.

(2) You have to know what bushing is in there.

(3) You need to "imagine" how removing the installed bushing changes the camber and caster back to zero.

(4) Then you use the chart in the shop manual to decide which bushing you need and at what angle you need to install it.

(5) Also you have to adjust for the sign (+/-) for correcting, plus for the RH side and minus for the LH side.

So, I can see why a shop would need to keep all the different bushings and guestimate which one is needed, install it, then check the result. Easy for a dealer that has a full supply of bushings but expensive for a mom and pop shop.

Just my theory, any comments?

Oh, for my van, using various "shade tree" methods I am convinced my RH side camber is in spec. but the LH is -1.47 degrees but should be between +0.75 and -0.25 so I need to correct by 1.5 degrees or so. This is consistent with the wear of the tires and the pull of the steering.

Now I'm trying to measure the caster and see what correction is needed there. Hopefully I'll be able to zero in on what bushing I need.


05-04-2009, 07:38 PM
I dont recall how Ford manages their alignment on vehicles with the usual A-arm front suspensions, but I doubt it involves different bushings. On my 87 Chevy G20 van, the upper control arm on each side has two bushings on its inner end, and a pivot rod fits through both bushings. That rod has two holes at right angles to its length, which slide over studs mounted to the front frame. That is how the upper a-arm is held to the vehicle. You put shims between the frame and the rod on the inner side of that upper A-arm, to get the correct camber AND castor. There are locknuts that are torqued down to hold that pivot rod tight. When you loosen the two locknuts, you can use pliers to remove/install shims.
As with most suspension bushings, the old ones have to be pressed out, the new ones pressed in - and the pivot rod has to be assembled with the bushings as they are pressed into the control arm.
If the shop told you that you needed new ball joints when you took it back to them - either 1. They assume you (like most customers) dont know anything about the vehicle and will swallow whatever they say, or 2. They assumed from its age that it would need ball joints, or because it didnt show the proper/symmetrical alignment values. I would assume any van over 20 years old that had its original ball joints and suspension bushings would not show the alignment values that the vehicle came with. Thats not to say they might be good enough - just that a valid case could be made for replacing the old parts and checking/adjusting the alignment.
I dont possess the usual alignment 'table', but manage to do the alignment on my vehicles using carpenter squares, a circle gauge I have with degree markings and a bubble level, measuring tape, and a really really level parking lot. It sometimes take me several tried to get it right too.

05-04-2009, 08:06 PM
Thanks denisond3

[QUOTE=denisond3;5965322]I dont recall how Ford manages their alignment on vehicles with the usual A-arm front suspensions, but I doubt it involves different bushings. .....(snip)...QUOTE]

Actually they have many different bushings and each is adjustable. Here is an image of a +3 to -3 degree Moog bushing.


The shaft of the upper ball joint fits in the hole in the bushing. The hole is offset from the center of the bushing and goes through at an angle. Thus the orientation (rotation) of the bushing changes both camber and caster.

In the Ford shop manual they list only 3 different bushings with six rotations for each. Each listing describes the change in both camber and caster for each rotation.

I can't get that kind of information for the Moog bushings. I called a few places that say they sell them but none have any in stock. I need to get the specific camber/caster change for each rotation before I know which one to order.

Just to give you an idea of how confusing it is, Advance Auto lists 17 different bushings (including zero) of all different ranges.

This is a link:

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