How Long Does It Take To Replace Tie Rods?

Tie rods are essential for steering a car, but they get worn out over time. When this happens, you need to get them replaced. Knowing how long this process takes is crucial if you need to use your vehicle as soon as possible. We researched the answer you need, so keep reading below.

Usually, experienced professionals only take an hour to change a tie rod, but this doesn't include performing vehicle alignment. That's why it will take at least three to four hours overall.

If you're replacing your tie rods yourself without alignment included, you'll need 2 to 12 hours, depending on your level of expertise.

Do you need more information about how long replacing tie rods take and how to do it? We have included a guide on how to do this. We've written everything you need to learn about tie rods, so keep reading to learn more.

Time It Takes To Replace Tie Rods

Mechanic point at broken tie rod end.

If you're in a hurry and your tie rods are damaged, you'd understandably need to learn how long it will take to replace them. Also, this would help you estimate how much you'll pay a professional to fix them, as this usually depends on how long the process takes.

Typically, an expert only takes an hour to replace tie rods. But they will also need to align your wheels after, so add a couple more hours to this time estimate.

That's why overall, with a professional's help, a tie rod replacement can take three to four hours, so allocate that time in your day.

Meanwhile, you can also replace your tie rods yourself. However, this may take a little longer, especially if you're not used to changing them yourself.

Specifically, a rough estimate will be between 2 to 12 hours. Remember that this does not include wheel alignment, as only professionals can do them.

Note that these periods here are only estimates of how long it will take and is therefore not accurate as each tie rod is unique to a vehicle.

Furthermore, the replacement may take longer or shorter depending on the expertise level of the one installing your new tie rods. It may also take longer if your vehicle or tie rod is severely damaged.

Guide To Replacing Tie Rods

Close up of hand tightening nut on tie rods, adjusting steering on a truck as part of hobby restoration project.

If you're hoping to save money, you can change your tie rod ends yourself. It will initially seem complex, but you can successfully finish the job with the right guide. Here's what you should do:

1. Remove Your Car's Wheel

Old red rusty car jack stand supports outer tie rod end to change tires, check worn out disc brake, steering knuckle and suspension.

To access your tie rod, you need to remove the wheel first. Do this by loosening your tires with a tire iron or impact wrench. Then, using a front jack, raise your car so you can remove the wheel by taking its lug nuts off the wheelbase.

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2. Find Your Tie Rods

After removing the wheel, locate your inner and outer tie rods. See where the wheel's steering knuckle is to access the shaft that goes through it. This shaft has a castle nut under and a round head on its top; this is your outer tie rod.

Meanwhile, your inner tie rod ends opposite the outer tie rod.

3. Remove Your Outer Tie Rod

Even if you're only planning to change your inner tie rod end, you'll need to remove the outer tie rod first to access them. That's why for this here's what you must do:

  1. Loosen your outer rod end's pinch nut with a wrench. Note that you shouldn't remove them yet.
  2. Get the pinch nut up to access your outer tie rod end.
  3. Near the steering knuckle, you'll find a cotter pin. Remove this pin with needle nose pliers by straightening it and pulling it out. You can't reuse this pin, so you can immediately throw it out.
  4. Remove the castle nut where the cotter pin was initially around using a ratchet.
  5. Pry or remove the outer tie rod from the steering knuckle using a tie rod puller or ball joint separator. Get either of these tools between the tie rod's ball joint and the knuckle to remove the tie rod.
  6. Separate your outer tie rod end from the inner tie rod end by turning it counterclockwise. Count how many twists it took to remove the tie rod so you can do the same number of turns for your new tie rod.

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4. Remove Your Inner Tie Rod

Removing your inner tie rod end will be easy if you finish removing the outer one. Here are the steps you should take:

  1. Remove the inner tie rod's pinch nut.
  2. You'll find a clamped boot inside your inner tie rod's end. Remove this clamp with pliers before removing another clip on the other side of the boot by twisting and breaking it using a flathead screwdriver. 
  3. Slide off the boot after removing its clamp and clip.
  4. If your inner tie rod has a small pin, pry this out using a flathead screwdriver. If the pin is hard to remove, tap the screwdriver with a hammer.
  5. Using a deep socket or a tie rod removal tool, turn your inner tie rod end counterclockwise to pull it off.

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5. Replace Your Tie Rod Ends

Car Mechanic or Auto Mechanic Tighten Castle Nut or Crown Nut of Outer Tie Rod End

Before starting, check if the new tie rod end you'll use is the same size as your old ones by comparing their length. Then, do these:

  1. Insert your inner tie rod end with a torque wrench. For this, see your new tie rod's manual to find out the torque value it needs, as each tie rod has a different one.
  2. Put the boot on your inner tie rod end in the exact location where you removed the old ones you used.
  3. Fasten your new boot with a new clip using pliers.
  4. Before putting your outer tie rod end, place the pinch nut back. Ensure that nut is far enough from your shaft so it doesn't touch the outer rod end later.
  5. Place your new outer tie rod end where you removed the old one. Remember to do the same number of turns to put it on as how many twists you did to take them off.

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6. Put The Tie Rod End And Wheels Back

Car Mechanic Fixing Tie Rod and Steering System While Being Under the Vehicle.

First, insert your tie rod end into the steering knuckle on your wheel, secure your tie rod end with a castle nut, and wrap your cotter pin through the hole again.

After, you may opt to grease your tie rod end. You can then tighten its pinch nut with an open-end wrench as much as you can. Then, put back your wheel by tightening its lugs. Lastly, lift off your car with your floor jack before gently lowering it to the ground.

Tighten its lug nuts with a wrench as a precautionary measure after finishing this process.

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Should You Replace Outer And Inner Tie Rods At The Same Time?

Back View Outer Tie Rod End and Inner Tie Rod End and Wheel Hub and Brake Caliper and Wheel and Tire and Lower Arm Ball Joint and Shock Absorber

If only one of the tie rod ends is damaged, you don't need to replace them altogether. However, because the two are connected, they almost always wear out simultaneously.

Even if this isn't the case, most experts still recommend changing both though it is not necessary as both of their performance as you drive should be as effective as the other.

If you only replace one, this new tie rod end will perform differently than your old one, resulting in a mismatched system.

How Much Does Replacing Tie Rods Cost?

Car Mechanic or Auto Mechanic Tighten Castle Nut or Crown Nut of Outer Tie Rod End, How Long Does It Take To Replace Tie Rods?

The amount of money you'll spend to change a tie rod depends on who'll do the replacement, you or a mechanic. If you plan to replace them on your own, you'll only need to spend on the material, which will cost you $99 to $148 on average. 

Meanwhile, if you hire a mechanic for this, the price range can go anywhere between $149 to $210, including the labor.

Typically, the labor costs around $50 to $60, but this may also still increase depending on how long it takes to replace the tie rods on your vehicle, as most mechanic charge per hour.

In Closing

Tie Rod End Fitted To A Steering Arm

A tie rod replacement can take a while, depending on whose doing the replacement. A mechanic may only take as short as an hour to do this. But, considering they should also do wheel alignment after, it may take between three to four hours.

Meanwhile, if you're doing it yourself, the time it'll take depends on how experienced you are to do it. Usually, it takes two to twelve hours.

There's a huge time range when you're doing the replacement yourself, as the expertise level could vary. But note that you cannot do the wheel alignment yourself, so this estimate does not include this process.

Did you learn insightfully in this post? Find even more informative articles you might like here:

Steering Wheel Not Returning To Center – What Could Be Wrong?

Steering Wheel Shakes When Turning – What Could Be Wrong?

Should You Replace Both Inner And Outer Tie Rods?

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