I have an 84 F250 diesel and the stealership just told me I need to replace inner and outer tie rod ends and the drag link. They offered to do this for $1015 which seems really high when I price out the parts.
I'm thinking I could buy the parts for $300 and do it myself with a bit of guidance. I have read that I should measure the existing tie rod ends and count the exposed threads to make sure I get the new parts on in as close to the same position as possible, then take it to the alignment shop.
My question is how difficult is it to remove the old parts and what is the process? I have read about needing special tools to pull the tie rod ends but have also read that not all trucks need this tool. Do I need this tool for this truck?
Having no experience with this, is this a job I should leave to the pros? If so, what should this cost me? I like to learn about this stuff and try to figure it out, so if I could do it without a pro but with someone else who has done it before, is there anyone in or near Atlanta who would want to walk me through this in person for some extra $$?
Of all the suspension work, otherthan shocks, the tie rods and drag link is the simplest.
Just take-off the bolts and drive the tapered studs out of the sockets - re-install in the reverse - You can do a rough alignment by measureing the center line of the tires front and rear - adjust so the measurements are as close as possible.
'79 150 4x4; '86 150 4x2; & '96 150 4x2 all with 300's and '85 SB 4x4 w/ 302 FI.
i found them to come off fairly easily but i have a tie rod end removal tool (pickle fork). you are replacing them so you dont have to be very gentle with them, just be careful not to mushroom the end so they dont fit through the hole. i would just be careful with the thread trick as not all manufacturers have the same number of threads on them. you can use a tape measure to measure across the back of the tire vs the front to get it close so the aligment goes fast and easy.(hopefully)
ah crap oscar scooped me with the tape measure thing.
You can replace every single item under there cheaper than $300. just drive up on a ramp, remove the old and put in the new and if you dont jack up the front - you have essentially done a gross alignment to get you to sears.
some days there are advantages to ford's rude and crude 'never the same toe twice' steering system - check writing day is one of them!
If you are trying to measure to get it back right, I have found measuring from centerline to centerline of each joint seems to be most accurate. I agree, the thread counting method did not work very well for me either.
Thanks for all of the advice so far. I've purchased the parts and started the process. I have my truck up on jack stands, have removed the nuts from both tie rod ends and the two nuts on the drag link. So far no luck with the hammer getting the bolts to pop out of there, but I shot it with a ton of PB Blaster penetrating oil and will try it again in the am. If all else fails, I did see the removal fork in the store for $20 today so I may just go and buy that.
On a separate note, the new tie rod ends and the new draglink have cotter pins that screw into the joints. Do I need to fill the joints with grease before screwing in the pins? Also, the guy at NAPA told me I can get a "limetime" alignment at Firestone for $140. Has anyone else done this and is it truly unlimited alignments for the rest of the time this beast is running? That seems like a good deal to me since it will surely go strong for another 25 years at least.
I never use a pickle fork, but instead use a trick I learned many years ago. Hitting the end of the stud often mushrooms it out. Instead, strike the side of the knuckle where the tie rod stud goes through. The hole is tapered just like the stud and usually a few sharp blows on the side of the bore and the tie rod will fall out on its own. I've done this for years at work as I often remove the steering knuckle to do other repairs and I don't want to damage the tie rod end.
ASE certified master tech, 20+ years experience
'92 F-250 XLT 4x4 7.3 diesel 5 speed
'88 Ranger STX 4x4 2.9 5 speed
'87 F-150 4x4 300 4 speed
'84 F-250 XLT 4x4 460 ZF 5 speed conversion
The Swamp Rat: '89 Chevy S-10 body mounted on a '75 Chevy K-10 4x4 chassis.
So far no luck with the hammer getting the bolts to pop out of there, but I shot it with a ton of PB Blaster penetrating oil and will try it again in the am. If all else fails, I did see the removal fork in the store for $20 today so I may just go and buy that.
You are going to have to get mad at it, and really give it one big blow with a good sized hammer. Frontend work is not easy in my opinion. They don't want that stuff falling apart as you are driving down the road, so now you are finding out how good a job they did designing it to hold together.
Thank you all for the encouragement and the advice on how to get this done. I finished it off this morning and drove it over to the alignment shop. Total price before alignment was $238.20 which included buying a big ol ball pien hammer and a grease gun. I went with the lifetime alignment for $149 just so I can quit paying for those in the future. All in all, I feel great having done this myself and learning something new. Thanks again for all of your help.
Like Dave said, next time just whack it once with a BFH and they usually pop right out.
One more thing for future reference: If you don't put it on jack stands like you did and just leave it on the ground, the tires don't usually move side to side unless you touch the steering wheel or intentionally move the tires.
You can usually just leave everything where it's at, pound out the old ones and drop the new tie rods right back where they were and your alignment will not change.
I forgot to add the fact that I didn't end up using the pickle fork.....just whacked it with the hammer till it popped out. And I certainly learned that it would have been better on the ground than on the jack stands. I locked the steering wheel so the wheels wouldn't move, but once I had the old tie rods out it didn't matter. I was glad I had measured the spans before taking off the old. I just drove the truck home from the alignment shop and it was a GREAT feeling. All in total cost of $388. I'm sure I'll be fixing a lot more on this truck on my own after this experience. Next up is the blower motor. Right now it only works on high...no low or medium after the cab filled with smoke a few weeks ago. Thanks again all.
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