Ford F150: How To Install Tie Rod Ends

All tie rod ends go bad eventually. Worn out ends can make the steering in an F-150 vague, darty, and dangerous. Luckily, replacing them at home is simple.

By Makeda - December 4, 2014

This article applies to the Ford F-150 (2004-2014).

As you are driving while heading home from work, you notice your car pulling, wandering in the opposite direction, and experiencing difficulties with steering. Does the car need an alignment? What could have caused this? It’s about that time to install new tie-rod ends, which is an easy job requiring minimal experience and costs less than paying an auto body shop or your dealership to replace it if you do it yourself.

Materials Needed

  • 21mm wrench
  • 15mm wrench
  • Pickle fork
  • Ball joint separator
  • Hammer/small mallet
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Vise grips
  • Grease/oil

Step 1 - Lift the truck

Lift the front of the truck by placing a jack underneath the front frame. Lift the truck until the wheel is suitably suspended above the ground. Place jack stands underneath the frame, and lower the truck onto them. Finish unbolting the wheel and remove it from the truck.

Figure 1. Lower the truck onto jack stands.

(Related Article: How to Jack Up Your Truck - Ford-trucks.com)

Step 2 - Detach tie-rod end from steering knuckle

Remove the cotter pin and nut from the end of the tie rod. Use a hammer or small mallet to hit the steering knuckle until it pops out. Alternatively, use a pickle fork or a compact puller tool to separate the two parts.

  • Figure 2. Remove this nut to free the tie rod end.
  • Figure 3. Use a pickle fork to disconnect tie rod end from steering knuckle.

Step 3 - Remove tie rod end

Before removing the tie-rod end, measure the exposed amount of thread and write it down. You'll need this distance later when installing a new tie-rod end.

Removing the tie-rod end is a two wrench job. Hold the tie-rod still using a 15mm wrench. There's an indentation for the wrench on the side of the rod closest to the frame. Use a 21mm wrench on the tie-rod adjustment nut. Unscrew it until the tie-rod end comes off.

Figure 4. Unscrew the tie rod end from the rest of the tie-rod.

Pro Tip

Measure the distance between your tie rod and the front tires. It's important for your alignment that they be re-installed at the same length.

Step 4 - Install new tie rod end and lower the truck

Screw the new tie rod end into place. Stop when the amount of thread showing is the same as what was recorded in the previous step. This will make sure your alignment is roughly the same. Install the castle nut and cotter pin. Re-install the wheel and lower the truck.

Step 5 - Get an alignment

Take the truck to shop for alignment or do it yourself at home. A full alignment is probably a good idea, but if that's not an option, there's a guide for aligning the truck's toe below. After getting an alignment, drive your car on regular roads and on the highway to see if the replacement has made a difference in your steering.

Featured Video: How to Change Tie Rod Ends

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