I’m installing some aftermarket upper and lower ball joints and tie rod ends into my '97 Ford F150 2WD pickup. The parts came from two different locations. The problem I am having is the pre-drilled holes for the cotter pins hang further down than the nuts. Anyone see a problem with simply shimming the nuts with washers? For safety, I really want the cotters going through to secure the nuts from working loose. Anyone see a problem with this?
Properly assembled and torqued the nuts will likely never loosen. The cotter pins don’t prevent the nuts from loosening they keep the nuts in place in the unlikely event they do. They are a backup. I would recommend you put the parts together as supplied, tighten the nut to the correct torque, wrap the cotter pins snugly back around the threads and sleep well. Stacking washers under the nut, particularly if they are not ground, hardened, and corrosion resistant will drastically increase the chances you will have problems with the nut loosening or the stud breaking. If you won’t feel comfortable assembling the tie rod ends as provided return them and purchase another set from the dealer.
I would actually use washers to provide the proper spacing so the cotter pins can rest in the slots of the nut and maybe you’ll sleep better. I’d just ensure they are stainless or a good grade of washer, however only one per side, if you need anymore than that then I’d suspect something is amiss. If the rod ends are that poorly cast or machined, makes you wonder about the quality or strength of the rest of the unit