Thursday, July 31, 2014

How to replace the outer tie rod end on a Dodge Caravan, Plymouth Voyager and Chrysler Town and Country

     When the outer tie rod end wears out there will be vibration coming from the front end, especially when at higher speeds. It will be felt it in the steering wheel since this is a steering part. This is not a difficult job on this vehicle, although as usual, removing the old part may be a challenge. Remember that this is an alignment part and alignment should be checked at a shop after the repair.

                                                                The Repair Basics                                      

  • Safety: Safety glasses, gloves 
  •  Tools: Two jacks, jack stands,  22 mm and 18 mm  wrench, 11/32 socket and 3/8" ratchet, hammer 
  •  Parts and materials: Replacement outer tie rod end, 14mm x 1.5 nut, grease gun 
  •  Cost of materials: tie rod end $42 from Napa, nut $1.35
  •  Shop labor cost for the job: 1/2 hour $50 average. I got a complete estimate of $130
  •  Home mechanic estimated time: 2 hours   

1) Break loose the lug nuts on the front wheels.
2) Jack up the front of the vehicle and support. I use two jacks toward the ends of the cradle behind the engine and then used railroad ties. 
3) Inspect both tie rod ends for any looseness or free play. There is play in the left outer tie rod end. If time and pocketbook permit, it may be wise to replace both outer tie rod ends at this time.  
4) Mark the threads with on the alignment adjustment rod where it goes into the tie rod end.
5) Unbolt the old tie rod end from the steering knuckle. With an 18mm wrench on the tie rod nut, hold the stud with an 11/32 socket. I first let it soak awhile in penetrating fluid. I had little trouble with this nut. The trouble would come later.

6) Using a hammer, tap the tie rod out of the steering knuckle. Spinning the nut back on a bit may provide a better hitting surface. This is a press fit. 
7) Let the tie rod rest back in the knuckle and loosen the adjustment backing nut. This one was seized on and that surprised me. No amount of penetrating fluid and grunting and tapping the wrench with a hammer would break it loose. I then broke out the propane torch and heated it for a full five minutes. It turned right off.

8) Spin out the old tie rod end now. 


1) I got a new back up nut (14mm x 1.5) since I had to beat and heat the old one. Position it just past where the mark was for the original.

2) Turn in the new tie rod end until It is just short of the back up nut.
3) Install the grease fitting and the grease cup.
4) Push the tie rod stud through the hole in the steering knuckle.
5) Turn the 18mm castle nut on till it seats and then little more.
6) Insert the cotter pin and bend it over.
7) Fill the cup with grease.

8) Install the wheel, raise to remove stands and lower to the ground.
9) Torque the lug nuts to 100 ft lbs.
10) Have the front end aligned at a shop as soon as possible. I paid $54.95


1 comment:

  1. I just did my outer and inner tie rods today on a 1998 caravan. Good tutorial. Was looking for torque for the caster nut. found it was 40 to 50 foot pounds.This didnt fix my problem...its the lower ball joints that I will do tomorrow...The tie rods still needed to be replaced...tons of slack. 16 bucks each for outer tie ends and 28 bucks for the inner ones from T and T auto...ball joints 28 bucks each..just wondering what a shop would charge to do it all...