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Do people replace inner and outer tie rods at the same time?

I have a 2006 Ford Focus with 130,000 miles on it. I just failed state inspection due to worn out tie rods. When the car was on a lift, I was able to rock the the front wheels left-right and up-down.

It was obvious that the outer tie rods were bad. But How do I know the inner ones are bad? When I rock the wheels, it is obvious the outer ones are bad, but the inner ones are deep inside, so how do I know?

I am planning to do them myself. I have done brake jobs and replaced struts, so I should be able to do them. Since it’s my labor, should I do both inner and outer at the same time? Or should I wait until the inner ones become bad. But it seems like I almost have to take out the outer tie rod to replace the inner tie rod.

What do you suggest?

Why not do them both and be done with it. Less time under vehicle is good.

inners are rare . . outers most often.


Agree! labor is the most expensive item, so get it all done at once.

The reason I am asking is that the joint on the outer tie rod does a lot of work when the wheel is turning. On the other hand, the inner tie rod is there to make fine adjustment, because the tie rod does not move in and out in a straight line but moves side ways little bit. Since the outer tie rod gets a lot of workout, but the inner tie rod does not, wouldn’t the inner tie rod last much much longer than the outer tie rod? If so, why not change only the outer tie rod and work on the inner later when it goes bad. I might drive the car for another 40,000 miles before getting a newer car. So, does it make sense to work on the inners even though they may not be bad?

I find it hard to believe the inners are bad. I’ve never done them but had them done once. I think its a little more difficult to do the inners than the outer ones so guess if it was me I’d just replace the outers and see. If you test first before having the alignment done, you really haven’t lost anything.

There’s obviously more than tie rods worn if you can move the tire up and down. It’s also very rare to need to replace inner tie rods.

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Yes. That thought occured. When I took auto shop back way back when, I thought I was told that if the the wheels rock left-right, it’s tie rod, if it moves up-down, it’s ball joint. At least, that’s what you should suspect first.

If I recall, your Focus has a Mcpherson strut front suspension

You only have lower ball joints, and they aren’t load-bearing

That doesn’t mean they can’t wear out, though

I agree with the others . . . inner tie rods on a rack and pinion set up usually last far longer than the outer tie rod ends

Is the bellows torn?

My advice is to replace just the outer tie rod ends, get a steering alignment, and then get the car re-inspected

I’m saying that, based on the fact you failed for worn outer tie-rod ends

I can’t advise you on what else may be worn out, because none of us except you and the inspector are able to lay hands on the car

You can pretty much determine if the inner tie rod needs replacing once the outer tie rod is disconnected from the steering knuckle.

Just try moving the tie rod assembly in and out from the steering rack, and if there’s slop, replace the inner tie rod.



Concur, plan on just replacing the outer. You always call an audible if the inner shows too much play once you can test it independent of the outer.

Sometimes a loose ball joint can cause sideways movement also so I’d check those ball joints closely. There’s the possibility anyway that the inner tie rods and outer tie rod ends may be fine. Just something for consideration.