I took my car to have aligned and the mechanic said I need to have tie rods replaced. How do I know if it’s the outer or inner ones? My son is going to replace them for me but I do not know which ones I should order.
From a suitable vantage point, watch the ends while someone gently rocks the steering wheel back and forth. The ones with visible play need to be replaced. You might be able to tell by grasping them and trying to wiggle them.
If you jack the car up to do this, please be sure that you have other support under it and have the wheels properly chocked.
Raise the vehicle so that the tire for tie rod end you want to inspect is just off the ground. Grab the tire at the 3 and 9 oclock positions and try wiggling the tire. If you can wiggle the tire, check the tie rod ends.
Most likely outer ones. Inner ones are in the steering rack and difficult to replace.
I hate to say this, but if your son can’t check them, maybe he shouldn’t be changing them. Remember, I said maybe. Call the shop, they might remember which ones they were.
Did You Have The Alignment Done? Why Was The Job Stopped?
Replacement of these parts are often part of an alignment. This car should be aligned after the tie-rod/tie-rod end replacement. Why didn’t the shop just get them and install them and continue with the alignment? That is a common procedure. Tie-rods need to be loosened anyhow to do a proper alignment and sometimes this is difficult even for an experienced mechanic using a hoist, torches, etcetera (It may be difficult for your son and then still needs to be aligned). The additional labor shouldn’t have been much during the alignment. I hope you didn’t pay for a complete alignment if they were the ones that stopped the job. I’d go back and have it completed. Sometimes shops will let you bring your own parts. Some “chain” auto parts stores give a life-time warranty.
The outer tie rods are fairly easy to replace, but you may need a special tie rod separator that can be borrowed from your local auto parts store at the time of purchasing the tie rods. You will need to get the car re-aligned as soon as the new tie rods are replaced. I would suspect if you paid for a alignment at the shop that pointed out the bad tie rods that they will re-align it at no charge.
BTW, If the tie rod is bad on one side I will usually replace both sides