2007 Dodge Grand Caravan - Outer Tie-Rod End Replacement

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Jul 7, 2014
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5,250
Location
Winnipeg MB CA
I was doing the seasonal tire changeover yesterday, and did my usual quick check of critical front-end components.

Grab tire at 6 and 12 o'clock to check ball joints. Good.

Grab tire at 3 and 9 to check outer tie-rod ends. Uh oh - clunk clunk clunk on the passenger side. (Driver's side was OK, and had obviously been changed out - the outer tie-rod end has a grease fitting.)

Wanted a replacement right then, as the weather is deteriorating rapidly here and I still have a lot of outdoor work to do, so no Rock Auto this time.

Phoned around 1:45 and picked one up from CTR (Central Transport and Refrigeration) about 3:30. It had to be brought in from a local warehouse. It turned out to be a Moog Problem Solver, with the box marked "Made in USA". Strangely enough, it also has a grease fitting.

Anyway, got home and started the job just after 4 p.m. It's pretty much too dark to work outside by about 5:30, certainly 6:00, at this time of year, soon to get worse by an hour.

Anyway, the job went reasonably well. After loosening and backing off the locknut (had to lie down and give the wrench a good push with my leg to break it free), I painted the exposed threads so as to know how far to thread on the new part. (This only works, of course, if the new part is the same length as the old one.)

I ran into a seized outer tie-rod end on my friend's Hyundai Sonata a few years ago, and feared the same here. To my surprise, someone had oiled the threads (unless my penetrating oil had migrated that far that fast, which I doubt). I could turn the tie-rod end by hand on the threaded rod. There was enough slop in the ball & socket assembly that I could turn it 30 degrees or so before popping the spindle out of the steering knuckle.

Popping the spindle out of the hole in the knuckle was a challenge. Due to really long threaded spindle on the old part, the tie rod press wouldn't fit. (I could have cut the spindle shorter, if it came to that.) The ball joint press was too wide to side on the knuckle properly.

I wound up putting a bottle jack underneath and putting upward pressure on the spindle while hitting the knuckle with a hammer. No joy. (The bottle jack compresses the coil spring, but also does put significant pressure on the spindle.) I left the jack in place and got out the pickle fork. BANG! after just a few blows from the hammer.

Put everything back together and cleaned up before I ran out of daylight.

Did it have to be done right then? Who knows. The upselling service writer will say "Well sir, it could go a day, it could go a week, it could go three or four months. I mean, I'd hate to see anything happen to your family ..."

In this case, he'd be right - I'd hate for it to fail in January and come home on a tow truck. Glad it's done.

The van drives fine, so I guess I got the toe-in close, but I should take it in for an alignment anyway.

Sorry about the quality of the first photo - diminishing daylight, I guess.

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I use a Tenhulzen automotive toe plate wheel alignment tool for setting toe-in after an inner or outer tie rod replacement on my vehicle.
 
I use a Tenhulzen automotive toe plate wheel alignment tool for setting toe-in after an inner or outer tie rod replacement on my vehicle.
The Tenhulzen 2200 toe plate was delivered today. Looking forward to trying it out. Thanks for the recommendation.
 
@DougR, I finally made time to use the Telhulzen 2200 today. Was doing oil and filter, tranny drain-and-fill, siphon-out-and-replace PS and brake fluid, and had to pull the wheels to lube the (aftermarket) tie-rod ends and ball joints anyway.

I had noticed some wear on the outer parts of the front tires, and figured something was going on.

Toe-in was excessive at 9/16" - with some trial and error I got it set to about 0. (The factory spec is around 0 with a slight margin on either side.) Did all the adjustments on the side where I'd replaced the outer tie-rod end last fall.

Drove fine before, seemed perhaps a bit better afterwards, but that may be a placebo-effect thing. No matter, glad it's done, and thanks again for the tip.
 
I use a tape measure and set tow to about 1/8 of an inch if I have to set tow. I usually just tell people to get an alignment after I do suspension work to make sure it's all set right.
 
I use a tape measure and set tow to about 1/8 of an inch if I have to set tow. I usually just tell people to get an alignment after I do suspension work to make sure it's all set right.
I had tried previously with a tape measure, and could never seem to get it right.

The Tenhulzen works well for me. Besides our Grand Caravan, I recently checked Jr's Kia van. (We had replaced outer tie-rod ends last November.) Glad to say the toe was right on.

So that's two wheel alignments I've saved now - the tool has more than paid for itself.
 
Wouldn't bother with an alignment if it runs straight and the steering wheel is centered. If it still concerns you, maybe do a tape measure check.
If my steering wheel was straight and no abnormal tire wear, and I change one tie rod end, and it's not straight when I'm done, I adjust it and road test till it's centered. Last car I did that to, the front tires wore perfectly even all the way across!
 
I had tried previously with a tape measure, and could never seem to get it right.

The Tenhulzen works well for me. Besides our Grand Caravan, I recently checked Jr's Kia van. (We had replaced outer tie-rod ends last November.) Glad to say the toe was right on.

So that's two wheel alignments I've saved now - the tool has more than paid for itself.
Good Work! Two for two. I bet you can do three for three.
 
Tie rods are easy. I just sight down the outside of the front tires to the rear tires. Steering wheel straight and do the math. Maybe I'm supposed to see and inch of the rear tire or maybe none of it. Whatever the specs are. No tools required. Works all the time.
 
Tie rods are easy. I just sight down the outside of the front tires to the rear tires. Steering wheel straight and do the math. Maybe I'm supposed to see and inch of the rear tire or maybe none of it. Whatever the specs are. No tools required. Works all the time.
That would work - I never thought of it.
 
If my steering wheel was straight and no abnormal tire wear, and I change one tie rod end, and it's not straight when I'm done, I adjust it and road test till it's centered. Last car I did that to, the front tires wore perfectly even all the way across!
I changed the R outer tie-rod on the Grand Caravan last Fall - found it clunking when I did the front-end check while doing the seasonal tire changeover.

Match-marked the old one with paint, and counted threads. Thought I had it right.

Had some tire wear over the winter, finally used the toe plates, and found the toe-in was 9/16"!
 
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