Bushing replacement or whole outer tie rod end replacement? (Nissan Altima 2003)

Hi All,

My car is making like a metal friction sound that goes away or eases a bit when braking. Today I was checking the pads and noticed that the bushing of the outer tie rod end is broken. I though that maybe this is causing the wheel to move in strange angles and this causes 2 metal parts to grind against each other and this may be creating the sound. I searched for some ‘youtube’ videos and only found replacement of the outer tie rod end. I was wondering if when the bushing is broken you need to replace the outer tie rod end as a whole or if you can just replace the bushing?

I am experimenting with mechanical work now for the first time. I will greatly appreciate your help.


Your description of the sound and when it occurs indicates that a disc brake pad is worn out. I would suggest you remove the wheels and calipers to closely inspect the pads and rotors. And while you have access to the situation you can more closely inspect the tie rod end.

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send us a picture of that. When a tie rod is worned, play will develop in the steering…change tie rod ASAP. Metal to metal contact are usually caused by completely worned brake pads.

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Actually I have a slightly scarier opinion about the metal-to-metal noise. I think the tie rod end (and we ARE talking FRONT suspension, right?) is so loose that the tie-rod housing is touching the brake dust shield and causing THAT to rub the rotor.

If there is ANY looseness in the tie rod end it should be replaced. These un-screw from the steering rack and are sold as one piece. They are cheap. You will need a tool to break the taper rented from the auto parts store. Just count the number of turns to removes it and turn the new one one the same number. That will get you close enough to drive it to an alignment shop. And you will need to get an alignment afterwards.

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If you’re talking about rubber blue boot, https://www.rockauto.com/en/moreinfo.php?pk=1284680&cc=1431957&jsn=386, the outer tie rod end has to be replaced.


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Just a SWAG here but there’s likely a 1/2 inch space between the edge of the tie rod end and the brake disc shield and 1/4 inch + from the shield to the rotor. If there were that much free play at the tie rod end the car would be virtually undriveable.

In fact the tie rod end would separate before that much free play could be worn into the joint.


I wonder if the OP is talking about the sway bar link and not the tie rod? A broken rusted sway bar link will cause a noise making turns, over a bump, etc.

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There is no bushing at the tie rod end, only a rubber boot as @Tester pointed out.

The sway bar links do have a bushing as @bing mentioned.

But you mentioned that you watched some U-Tube videos on replacing the tie rod end.

Best to take as picture of the part in question.


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I really appreciate your help.

I examined the area better today and took some pictures. From your info. I am clear now that I need to replace the whole outer tie rod end (it seems it is the only way to fix it), and also I am clear about that there is no bushing in there but just the rubber boot as tester pointed out. I will change both outer tie rod ends.

In addition, I think the noise may be coming from the shock absorbers which seem to be very worn out. I checked the pads and they seem fine. See pictures below if you would like to give your opinions about all this.

In the pictures: outer tie rod end, shock abs., the top part of the caliper front view and the central part of the caliper front view (the last two showing the pads which seem to have some good flesh still).

I suggest that you remove the brake pads and inspect them and the rotor closely. But of course the tie rod end does need replacing and possibly the strut also.