How to Replace a Tie Rod on VW Jetta/Golf/GTI/New Beetle/MK4
Replacing the Passenger-Side Tie Rod on MKIVs
This is actually a very simple job if you have a lot of patience. It will take anywhere from two hours to thirty minutes depending on any troubles you run into.
For instance, my own outer tie-rod end was so seized onto the shaft that I had to take a hacksaw to cut it in half. Now if I had had a dremel or angle grinder, that procedure would have only taken a couple minutes, but doing it by hand took me over thirty. But that is a rare situation.
I was quoted a hair short of $300 for parts and labor to replace just the outer end of the tie-rod. This DIY ended at a final cost of $80: two full tie-rods at $60 (I still have the left-side tie rod to sell) and a pair of two-ton car jack stands at $20.
You don't absolutely need stands, but if you're going to be working under your car, then I recommend buying them. Twenty dollars for security is a lot better than having a car crush your head.
And on that note, let's get started!
This DIY was done on a 1.8T Volkswagen Golf/GTI, and will be the same for the Jetta, New Beetle, and other A4 platform cars. The part number for my right-side tie rod was 1J0422804B. Before buying your part, please check the part number first for compatibility with your car (for example by calling the dealership).
Tools and Parts Needed For a Tie-Rod Swap
All the tools are pretty basic tools, and if you have read any of my other DIY's you know what my thoughts are on tools. Just buy it; if it is a common tool you will use it again. And it's still cheaper than labor cost!
- Flathead screwdriver or needle-nose pliers for releasing the pinch clips on the boot
- Hammer to hit out the outer tie rod if it's feeling stubborn
- Adjustable wrench
- 1/2" socket wrench for the removal tool
- Metal screw-on hose clamps or zip ties to retighten the boot
- Tie rod (part # 1J0422804B)
- Inner tie-rod removal tool (Checkers Kit #26)
In this DIY I used hose clamps to tighten the boot back on, but I would strongly recommend using zip ties; they are cheap, they a lot easier to use, and you can get them just as tight as the original clamps that were on the boot.
Now on this DIY, I highly recommend a specialty tool called an "Inner Tie Rod Removal Tool." If you don't use it you'll be in a world of hell. But I do not recommend that you buy this tool. Do RENT it from your local automotive store, and it will make the job of removing the tie rod very simple. I rented the tool from Checker Auto Parts ("O' Reilly" in some states). It was Kit #26, also listed under part #67046, made by PowerBuilt. Best of all the kit can be rented for free. You pay for it up front, but when you return it you get a full refund. So call your local auto shop for more details on renting.
I believe Pep Boys has the tool for rental too. But the "2 in 1" tool at AutoZone will NOT work for our cars.
If you must own it, the tie rod removal tool can be bought at Harbor Freight for $40.
Let's Get This DIY Started!
First of all, this is really simple, so just take your time and do it right.
- First thing is to turn your steering wheel all the way to the left. This will give you a lot more room and clearance to the places you want to be. Now loosen your lug nuts.
- Jack up your car (make sure your parking brake is on tight) and remove your wheel.
- On this first photo you can see me working the squeeze clamp loose with a flathead screwdriver. Once it is a little bent, shoving needle nose pliers in there helps as well. Use the same technique on the clamp at the other end of the boot.
Release the tie-rod end by using an adjustable wrench. (If the bolt just spins you can hold it still with an Allen wrench; all tie-rod ends have an Allen wrench hole in the bottom to keep the bolt from spinning with the nut. Down below I have posted a picture.)
Either the outer end will come out nice and easy or it will need a good whack. Don't be scared; let some aggression out and hit that mofo hard.
I don't have a picture for this step because my outer was completely seized onto the inner rod. If you have that problem, grab a hack saw, dremel, or angle grinder and just cut the rod in half. If not, unscrew the outer end, pull off the boot, and you're ready to use the tool you were smart enough to rent.
Fit the proper size attachment to the inner tie-rod bolt and slide on the pipe as in the picture below. With your 1/2" socket wrench you can easily unscrew the inner tie rod. Once you break it loose, it can be unscrewed by hand.
Take your new inner tie rod and reverse the steps. If you have a torque wrench you will want to tighten it to around 35 pounds per square inch.
This is the pain-in-the-A part. You can see in the picture below that I'm using a screw-on hose clamp to tighten the boot back on. Save yourself the trouble and use a zip tie for the inner and outer boot clamps. They will be just as tight and will save you a good thirty minutes of working the clamp closed in such a tiny space.
That is it. You will want to keep your new outer tie-rod screwed on to the same length as the old. It is always recommended to have an alignment after you change tie rods.
Here's a great tip: Any time I buy a new car, I go to Firestone (a local garage) and buy a lifetime alignment package. It costs about $150, but it lets you have alignments done for however long you have the car.