Parts needed to replace a tie rod end on your 1996 Ford Bronco or F150:

How to Replace a Tie Rod End on a 1996 Ford Bronco or Truck

Good morning, everyone. We're here working on an F-150 today, the older body style. And we're going to be doing some front-end work on it. We're going to change all the tie rod ends and the center link, which is actually part of the tie rod ends on this particular vehicle. And we got the adjusters, we're going to do those too. Going to do the whole steering mechanism on the front end, basically. 

We have our tools lined out here for everything I think we're going to need because I've done this job on the Bronco fairly recently. We've got a torch to heat things up. A big breaker bar. A socket set for all the different sizes. A hammer that-- we're not going to use any special ball joint puller or separator tools or pickle forks. We’re going to use the torch and a hammer to tap them apart. Got the impact gun, the General STANLEY® Kit, and of course, the PB Blaster to spray all the nuts down before we try and take anything apart to get started. 

Tie rod end on the outside. Get some PB Blaster on the Pitman arm connection on the center link. We're going to skip this one, we're not even going to take this one apart, where the center link connects to the tie rod end. I'm gonna show you a trick where I ain’t even have to take that apart, since we’re replacing the whole thing. And then we've got the tie rod end over here. Put it back. So when we take this apart there's only three nuts that we have to take off on here. And you're going to see how easy and quick this is. 

Alright, the first step: we got three bolts to take off, or three nuts. They’re castle nuts secured with cotter pins. So we removed three cotter pins, and now we're removing the three castle nuts off the top of the connections.

Alright, all three castle nuts are off. And then what I did is I screwed this castle nut back on just a couple of turns, so when I tap on it with a hammer it doesn't mash down the threads at the end of the tie rod. And now we're heating the bracket that the tie rod pushes through to expand the metal to break loose the contact between the housing and the tie rod end, so that it'll tap out easier. You just got to watch your torch so you don’t hit anything hot behind it that you don't want to melt.

Keep your torch right on the part you're trying to heat up. Get it nice and hot so it starts to turn red. And then we'll take it off. Let the fire go out and then we'll use the hammer to tap on the end on the end of the castle nut up here. 

Alright, we're under here. We've got two-thirds of it off. And there wasn't room on top of this center link here to tap on it the way I'm used to doing. So I decided to go ahead and get the tie rod end separator out. Also referred to as a pickle fork sometimes. You can see how it’s shaped.

Tapered down the sides. It's got a long arm on it to hit the hammer with. They’re also available. They're only a few dollars each and I highly recommend getting yourself a set of these, or at least the one that you need for your particular job. They're also available with the attachment on the end that hooks into an air hammer. So if you have pneumatic tools you can use an air hammer on it instead of swinging the sledgehammer. 

So we’ve got two off. They came off pretty easy. Saved a lot of effort swinging the hammer,

I got to say. Oh, here's my other one. This is a smaller one. See how the gap between them is different. We're going to just wedge this in here between the tie rod end and the steering knuckle. And then just hit the end of it with a hammer.

Alright, we got one more to do here on the right side. We're going to just wedge it in here between the tie rod end and the steering knuckle as far as we can. And then we're going to grab our sledgehammer here and we're going to start tapping. And hopefully it'll pop out fairly easy.

Alright. We've got everything out and laying up here on top of the hood. We preassembled the tie rod ends, control arm, and center link. Now what we’re going to do is we're going to measure. We’ve got new adjusters. We're going to measure everything. And we're going to set the overall length of each piece to the same length as what the original was, that we took off. That way the alignment should be fairly close to where it needs to be. And of course we will take the truck into a shop and have it professionally aligned down the road. But for a temporary alignment, just get it close so you're not causing too much damage or control problems after you get it back together. It’s a good idea to measure everything and preset it to the same spec as what it was before.

Alright, after setting a preliminary length adjustment, we just lifted the tie rod end into the steering knuckle, secured the castle nut on top, then tightened it up quite tight to the torque spec, and then lined up the cotter pin hole. Slide that through and bend it over once that end. You have to use your 17-millimeter wrench and tighten up the adjuster sleeve on both sides. This nut and bolt here, the bolt here, and the same setup on the other side.

We have a castle bolt and cotter pin through the pit lid on here. The other one here, where we put the center link and the tie rod end together. And of course a castle nut on the tie rod on the other side. Once that’s done, we're going to install our grease fittings on the tie rod ends, because these are greasable two fittings. And then we'll go through --we’ll grease the upper and lower ball joints and both tie rod ends, and this project will be done.

Alright, we've all finished up with installing the new parts. And here’s the old parts apart. And I want to show you something here. When we looked underneath the tie rod ends all seem nice and tight. Everything seems real secure and snug. And I didn't think they were worth replacing, but my son said, well, you know, we've already got some new parts, it’s not going to take that long to do it, let's just go ahead and say that we've got the truck fixed up and rebuilt and good. I didn't see anything wrong with the joint. Everything was nice and tight, but he said that if it’s going down the road, if you would make a turn, the truck would snap back really hard from the turn. 

And I wanted to pull off to the right. And he said you have to pull it very hard in the other direction to keep it going straight down the road. So I said, alright, we’re going to go ahead and change them. And once we got it off I got to show you this. This joint right here that connects the left tie rod end to the center link is a pivot joint, just like a tie rod. But it's actually seized up. You can’t move it. Look at that. It's totally unmovable. And that is why the car was snapping and bouncing when you tried to turn. 

Because as you go to turn the wheel, this here wouldn't turn or flex like it was supposed to. So we've found a problem, test drove the car, it goes straight down the road now. And no pulling and no bounce back. So just a little reminder: just because you think that your tie rod ends and everything is good doesn't mean there might not be a problem that you can't see with the normal front end checks of squeezing the tie rods with the channel locks. There’s always something else that could be hidden that you didn't notice. So you’ve got to pay attention to every little detail sometimes, which I wouldn't have done if it wasn't for the prodding of my son here.

Alright. Well that's about a wrap for this job. Thanks for watching. Check out my channel for other great how-to videos and we'll catch you next time. Bye for now!

Thanks goes out to Daryl Turcott for the use of this video. You can follow him on YouTube here.