Inner tie rod and steering questions!

Hey there!

I have a couple of question I hope you guys can help me out!


I was replacing the inner tier rods on a vehicle and found that I was not able to tighten the tie rod back using the special tool. It was as if it was slipping.

I decided to take the tie rod out so I retrieved the tool and found that a washer behind the rod itself was bent. The washer isn’t a regular washer; it has 4 thingies that makes it look like a claw to hang on to the inner tie rod. The “claws” were bent, because the tie rod was a big big in diameter compared to the one already installed. I am pretty sure the passenger side tie rod is also bent.

I decided to take out the washer and try to bent it back, but in the process I warped the whole washer. Maybe the washer is shaped like that so that it doesn’t spin while you tighten the rod? You can see this washer marked in red in Picture number 1. The washer itself is in picture number 2.

So it was already 8 pm and I was in a rush; O Reilly was about to close and possibly Home Depot too. I was debating whether to install the tie rod without the washer or not, but decided to rush to Oreilly. I might not be an engineer or anything but if they put an washer in there it maybe for a good reason. Unfortunately, OReilly didn’t carry this type of washer, nor a regular washer that fits the rod.

I found one roughly the same size at Home Depot, but it was a bit thick. You can see the comparison between the two in pictures 3 and 4.

My question is, how important is this washer? Some suspension parts I have tried to buy in Autozone and Oreilley comes with washers and others don’t. This inner tie rod didn’t come with a washer. Today I just had enough time to put together the driver side with the “temporary regular washer”, so the other tie rod is still installed with the “stock” washer, possibly bent in between the tie rod! The car doesn’t seem to handle different… but here comes my second question!


The size of the new inner tie rod is longer that the old one! and it has more threads. In fact every inner tie rod I bought has more threads than the original. Is this something that I can get by with a proper alignment? Or should I return the rods back to Autozone and Oreilly and try to get the right ones? How safe it is for me to drive like this? At least temporarily till I get the right parts and find the time to work again on the car?

Question 3:

There has always been a noise in the car that sounds somewhat like a very faint thump. It happens when you move the steering wheel back and forth while stationary, which is why I decided to replace the inner and outer tie rods, but the noise is still there!

I always thought it came from the steering wheel column . I asked my brother to move the steering wheel back and forth and found the noise to come from the general area where the tie rods are. The rods are brand new and has no play, even thought the part seems to not be the right part. Any ideas?

I should have examined the rods thoroughly, but I was in a hurry and didn’t thought about this. DIYer mistake.

anybody? please?

Nobody can help you when you keep the year/make/model of the vehicle a secret.


If you fail to see the purpose and proper function of that piece I suggest you have someone more knowledgeable repair the car. Installing the tie rod end without that piece being flat and pinched and the tabs bent to fix the outer tie rod to the rack will result in a seriously dangerous situation.

BTW, how did you secure the rack to turn the outer tie rod to remove it? Why is that lock washer deflected upward on the near side radius of view 2? What does the parts breakdown call the part in question?

Asking such a basic question and viewing the misshaped lock washer leads me to believe that you have jumped in over your head and possibly damaged the rack or will damage it when installing the new tie rod.

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Suggest to take the old tie rod and new tie rod back to the auto parts store, along with the washer, and ask them to help you sort this problem out. If they can’t or won’t, take those parts to a shop who works on your make/model and ask their opinion. Some diy work on cars you can mickey mouse and get away with, but suspension components aren’t one of those. Too unsafe, both for you and other drivers.

I use a local auto parts store (rather than a chain like AZ or O’Reilly) and they’d be happy to help me out if I brought those parts in to show them the problem.

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Special lock washer to keep the tie rod from unscrewing itself from the rack. Some cars use lock washers, some use set screws, some use roll pins.

These are generally one use washers and you need to buy the new, proper washer…

The last thing you want or need is for the tie rod to unscrew itself from the rack. And I’ve actually seen this a couple of times…


Okay, so I spent the whole day reading and watching videos of people removing and installing inner tie rods while at work. Mistakes were made… and it’s time to correct them if possible.

What I will do is remove the tie rod. Take both old and new and try to find the right part. I found the exact part with the dealer, but I also found that most places don’t carry these tie rods with the washer. They use a round washer without the tabs. You have to use a hammer and a chisel to stake it onto the flat parts of the rod. Are these fine to use or should I just go with the exact part from the dealer? Do you think it will be a good idea to add some blue threadlocker too?

I removed the tie rod using the tool I rented in autozone without bending the tabs back on this lock washer. So you could say I forcefully removed it. The pictures of this washer all bent and beat up was made by me trying to bend it back into shape to reuse the washer because I didn’t know it was one time use only. I will inspect the rack for any damage the next time I remove the tie rod.

George, I will do as suggested. You mentioned local auto parts store… I thought AZ and OReilly were auto parts stores. I am now looking at Carquest, Advance Auto Parts, Napa and Worldpac. Are these what you are referring to?

Car is still sitting in the garage… I screwed up but I am willing to learn from my mistakes and fix whatever needs to be fixed if it is still possible. I did not buy a bunch of tools just to give up and pay someone else to fix my car. I want to learn to do it myself and I also wish to do it properly.

I am aware that I don’t have enough knowledge but if I had, I wouldn’t be asking so many questions here in Cartalk. I always try to prepare myself as much as I can so that when the day comes I can do it right, but it is never like that.

I used a tool I rented in Autozone to remove the inner tie rod. I did not bent back the tabs and forcefully removed the tie rod without knowing the existence of this washer. I just took notice of this washer when I couldn’t tighten back the new tie rod. Saw the tabs bent a tiny bit around the corners and that’s when I realized something was seriously wrong and that I might have screwed up in the passenger side tie rod too.

That being said, the washer was not beat up like that as pictured. That was me being stupid and ignorant about the function of this washer and tried to bend back the tabs to its original shape in order to reuse it. Doing so I messed up the whole washer.

I will spend some time inspecting things once I get the tie rod removed. Hopefully I did not damaged anything else.

How did you hold the rack to prevent it from twisting when you unscrewed the tie rod end? If you didn’t hold the rack still but instead twisted the tie rod end off with the rack housing holding the rack in place you may have damaged the rack housing. Because you failed to recognize and remove the lock washer you put a great deal of torque on the rack. I use a 24" crescent wrench to hold racks when removing and installing inner tie rods and that’s after freeing up any lock washers, etc.

I have watched several youtube videos for insight into repairing weed-eaters, chain saws, etc and found some helpful but quite a few are a waste of time and I assume that some of the videos on rack and pinion repair are good and others not so good. Your inexperience makes it difficult to discern whether you have damaged the rack or if you might be able to salvage that lock washer. As for staking a standard washer I suggest you don’t try that. Doing so could damage the rack. A soft metal washer that is easily bent is needed.

But good luck

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OP, if the existing washer can’t be bent back in shape to use effectively then ask to see the cheapest aftermarket tie rods in stock to find which one has an acceptable washer to use as a replacement. Spend the $25 or so to get that tie rod and be done with it.

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Damn… I used one of these. Tool

I didn’t hold anything while twisting the rod. I watched so many videos from different cars and they all use this tool without holding anything. I want to inspect the rack… Maybe it’s too late. Ugh…

I will get those washers. They are pretty cheap… about $3 bucks each. Thanks!

A tool such as that is required to turn the tie rod but the rack can be twisted damaging it or the housing. It’s a shame that videos are on line that are made by clueless DIYers.

At this point you should do your best to properly reassemble the steering and set the toe then drive slowly and carefully on out of the way streets paying attention for possible binding in the steering or a problem with the power assist before driving in heavy traffic or at freeway speeds.

And did you ever post the year make and model car your working on @Triathlor? I am curious what the instructions are for removing the inner tie rod.

As a driveway diy’er you’ll do yourself a big favor if you can locate an auto parts store that has an experienced staff that does or has done auto repair work themselves. The problem diyer’s are faced with is that many of the chain stores these days hire staff who’s only qualification is they can stock the shelves, look up part numbers, & work the cash register. They may have never crawled under a car even once in their lives. Look in your yellow pages to see if there’s an auto parts store in your area that isn’t part of a national chain. Often those stores will be staffed by people who enjoy to experiment w/their own cars, restore old cars, modify their cars to race on a race-track, etc. At a store like that there will likely be somebody on the staff who has some direct experience with most any problem you are trying to solve. If there’s nothing but national chain parts stores, you’ll have to try out the various stores in your area, looking for the one w/the most knowledgeable staff. A NAPA store would be where I’d start in that situation.

It’s been a while since I replaced any inner tie rod ends for a rack and pinion steering system but if I recall correctly, those tabs bend in opposite directions. Two tabs grip the tie rod end and the other two grip the rack end so that the tie rod can’t backout from the rack.

Main thing is also don’t beat yourself up over a mistake. There’s not a mechanic on the planet who hasn’t erred.

I used to work with a guy who had been a mechanic for 30 years and the number of mistakes he made was absolutely appalling. As in half of everything he touched…

Why wasn’t he fired? I have no idea unless he had blackmail goods on the boss.