Ball Joints and Tie Rods

In a move that should surprise nobody, my 2007 Jeep Compass with 60,000 miles has worn out its ball joints and tie rod ends. Again. First time was fixed under warranty not long after I bought the car used. This time around I get to do it myself. My mechanic tells me that the inner tie rod ends are pretty bad. The outers aren’t bad, but might as well change them since they have to come off anyways. The left ball joint is shot, and the right is so-so.

  1. The shop manual says you can’t even replace the inners - you have to replace the steering gear. Luckily Autozone knows better and has what looks like a simple procedure to re-and-re the inners. Does anybody know about any hidden surprises that the manuals don’t mention with this?

  2. Does any standard press work for getting the outer rod stud out of the knuckle? Since I’m replacing it, could I just use a pickle fork instead?

  3. Last time the dealer replaced the entire control arms because of the ball joints. Both the factory manual and the Autozone manual says you can’t replace just the ball joints. But then Autozone (and other parts stores) are willing to sell me ball joints without control arms. What gives? Also, same question about press vs. pickle fork applies.


Check for a warranty on those control arms. Sometimes you can get the replacement parts for free and just pay the labor. If there is a manufacturer’s lifetime warranty, the place that changed them can get the new ones for free with no problem.

@pleasedodgevan2 It was a manufacturer warranty replacement almost 4 years ago. The new car body warranty expired 3 years ago. I don’t think I’ll be able to sweet talk Chrysler into another one. :slight_smile:

I like to use the small pitman arm puller for tie rod ends. It is just the right size, but since you are replacing them, a pickle fork should do. The small pitman arm puller runs about $14 last time I checked and is easier to use than the pickle fork.

Thanks. Is there a special tool to unscrew the inner rod from the rack?



Inner tierods wear out and you can’t replace them? Jeep engineers are great? Your on 2nd set of inners already? Must be all the rough trips to the grocery store?

So I ran into a snag last night trying to change the inner tie rods. None of the parts stores here sell the dust boots that go between the rack and the tie rods. In fact, ebay is the only place I’ve seen them so far, sold with new tie rods. So how do you re-use the old ones? I couldn’t find a way to slide the narrow end of the boot off the groove in the rod without wrecking it. Is there a trick I’m missing here?


The clamps came off with no problem?

Have you sprayed WD-40 to make the boot more compliant?

Oh, I just thought of something. You need to slid the boot off towards the outside. That means you need to remove the outer tie rods first.

You’re going to use new clamps, right?

Didn’t think of spraying it. Yes, the outer rod end was removed first. I was going to use zip ties, I’ve been led to believe that they’re ok in this application. After all, they’re not spinning like on cv joints.

I got the clamps off just fine. The problem was sliding the boot forward - the ridge on the inside of the boot was seated too well in the groove in the rod. I could force it to slide back towards the rack, but it would always lock back in place if I tried to bring it forward again. I couldn’t grip the boot hard enough to pull forward without using tools to grip it, which would wreck it. I tried sliding some picks in, but still couldn’t pull it forward, plus I was stretching the rubber.

I found out this morning that the boots are a dealer part only, which means I’m hooped until at least Tuesday (holiday here on Monday).

Side note: Even with a new outer tie rod end installed on the existing inner, I now have more play than I did before. The inner rod probably got spun around a couple of times at most. The alignment will be out a bit, but do you think it’s safe to drive around slowly until I get back at it?