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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
This is for all those seeking to eliminate issues, prevent catastrophic failures, costly repairs etc.

You can perform this inspection every oil change, or just when you discover a mysterious clunk, thud, click or whatnot. What you will need:

Floor Jack, jack stands (not ramps), chock block (in case e-brake fails), a friend/significant other or an internally displaced person that could use a hot shower-meal and maybe a bottle of wine if your single and have no friends.

1. Parking brake set.

2. Place front end on jack stands.

3. Have assistant (spouse, friend or internally displaced person (please do not use illegals for this and then call INS on them so you don't have to pay them, thats pretty messed up)) unlock the steering wheel (engine off) and quickly turn it about 1/16th of a turn back n forth rapidly, enough that the wheels just start to move.

4 a & b. While #3 is happening, you are underneath the front end of the Maggie. First look at your strut to make sure theres no fluid leakage (if yes, replace both sides). Then you will need to look from one side to the other. I start on drivers side. Look at the inner portion of the front wheel, you will see the tie-rod end (it should move in conjunction with the steering knuckle, not pop or have any slop to it). If tie-rod end only moves in proportion to the knuckle then follow tie-rod to the inner rod end (5 a & b. connected to the rack & pinion). If outter tie-rod end is popping or has slop to it, it needs to be replaced (I recommend replacing both outers if one side is bad).

5 a& b. Now that the outer tie-rod end is inspected, its time to check the same on the inners. Normally inners will pop, you may have better luck grabbing the tie-rod with one hand (to feel a pop) while watching the inner end. If inner is tight and not popping, move to step 6. If inner tie-rod end is popping, yep, replace and again, I suggest you do both at the same time.

6. Check ball-joints. Upper and lower (normally uppers will wear out before lowers). Your assist still turning wheel quickly side to side about 1/16th of a turn, visually look from underneath the car at the upper and lower "A" arms, there you will see the ball-joint pressed into the "A" arm and then the stud bolting through the steering knuckle. If it is popping or worn replace. If not, check the other side.

6 b. Secondary ball-joint test. Assistant can take a break now. Sit down with your legs spread under the front tire, grabbing the top and bottom of the tire try to pull the top towards you while simultaneously pushing the bottom away and then reverse. There shouldn't be any play or popping, if there is, thats another sign of a bad ball-joint. This is also a procedure for checking wheel bearings. So if there is popping, have someone look at the upper & lower ball-joints to verify they are indeed the culprit. If the ball-joints look tight, then you need to check/replace your wheel bearings. Repeat for opposite site.

7. Tension Struts- forgot that one. Look at the rubber bushing mount end of the Tension Strut, if it has visible splits in it, yep, replace it. If not, you can check by smacking it with a rubber mallet, if its bad it will move about while bushing does not.


I hope this helps. It can save you a lot of money if you find the issue, then replace it yourself.

Alternate option, take it to a local midas and ask if they will inspect the front end for you as you are getting ready to sell the car (or buy it) and want to make sure its safe. They will perform the same tests, albeit on a rack/lift, then tell you whats wrong and give you some astronomical price to fix it. Take their quote with you to home, hop on here and spill the beans so we can help you fix your car and save some $.

Hope this helps. GL.

Charlie
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Why do the tie-rods fail so frequently? Well theres a number of reasons, but two of the most likely culprits: 1. Improper lubrication during assembly before shipping. 2. Lack of zerk fitting.

How about a way to eliminate both issues? Easy. Go pick up some zerk fittings (either 180*, 45*, 60* or 90* your choice), and a tap with same threads as the fitting. You can do the outer tie-rods on the car, but easier if they are off.

Secure the tie-rod end so it doesn't move around.
Dimple the smooth convex cover on the backside with a punch.
Using correct sized drill bit and a drill stop set for only 5/32" depth (a hair over 1/8")coat drill tip with grease to capture shavings.
Carefully drill hole centermass of the cover.
Wipe any shavings off cover.
Using Tap handle and tap, tip coated in grease, cut the threads for the zerk fitting.
Wipe any shavings off cover.
Install zerk fitting.
Using grease gun, and high quality grease squeeze a few shots of grease into your newly outfitted greasable tie-rod end.
*Install tie-rod if removed from car, or starting with a new end that did not have a fitting*
Repeat for opposite site.



FWIW I, and many others have used this technique on several steering and suspension components over the years, and many continue to use this technique on Motorcycles as well, especially for issues like the KLR650 swing arm pivot, so it can be greased OTR and prevent failure while your trekking around the globe or down to Argentina from Alaska.
 

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CMOM FOR DEC 08
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Yup, going thru this exact scenerio NOW.... trying to figure out the culprit of what is wrong or what parts are bad in my lastest magnum BLUE! Checked both front tires and NO play or noise when I grab the top and bottom of the wheel and wiggle; however when I grab the sides, I do have play and some noise. A friend told me he believes it's my INNER tie rod ends.... He had ME get underneath, hold on to the inner tie rods and wiggled the steering wheel and I could actually feel the clunking in it.... but still NOT sure about the outter tie rods ~ appearance wise these LOOK OK! ???? Since I just don't want to throw parts at this car with 127,500 miles; probably get it checked out professionally too ~ Just to be SURE!
 

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Where is Cat3? haven't seen him here n the longest. Not since he got that new job or whatever. Hope everything is alright with him.
 

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I wish I knew about this fix. I've pretty much had to replace my front tie rods three times since 2007 on my SXT. Now I wish I could figure out why the steering always "Creaks". Dealer replaced clock spring in steering wheel before warranty expired, but that did nothing. The front end on this car just seems really weak and soft, and would like to replace the whole front suspension with an Eibach Kit if that will help the front end last longer between rebuilds.
 

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I just received outer tie rod ends, Raybestos Professional Grade, that are already threaded for zerk fitting. Part # 401-1878. Didn't say anything in description about this, bought through Amazon.
 
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