Question on 2003 Trailblazer ext ls

Discussion in 'Lifted & Offroad Suspension' started by sscamaro41087, Oct 28, 2010.

  1. sscamaro41087

    sscamaro41087 New Member

    I recently bought a 2003 trailblazer ext ls. It has 80K on it and runs excellent(knock on wood). I just brought it to a inspection facility to get it inspected. They told me I have a bad outer tie rod end in the front passenger side. I am originally from NJ and just moved to salt lake city so tools are an issue. Does anyone know how much I can get a tie rod end for? Whats a better brand? Should I change both sides? What tools will I need to change it and how long is the process? Im moving back out of SLC in January and would like to change it before I make the long haul back home. the mechanic said he wanted 400 to fix it and I would like to attempt to fix it myself if possible. Also Im looking to change tires. any advice on tires?
  2. stephan

    stephan Rockstar 4 Years 5000 Posts

    Holy crap, $400. to fix a tie rod end. Tell your mechanic goodbye & fix it yourself. Contact Steve at this site for a good price on a tie rod end, or shop around in Salt Lake City for the best price. As far as replacing it yourself, it's pretty easy. You'll need two 1/2" wrenches or 1 -1/2" wrench & a 1/2" socket with ratchet to loosen the clamp. Take the cotter pin out of the other end & remove the nut (approx 5/8" or 11/16" can't remember), but even a crescent wrench/adjustable wrench will work. You will need a big hammer to drive the end out of the steering knuckle/arm (this is the only difficult part as sometimes they are stubborn) Before unscrewing the end out of the collar, mark it with a pen of put a piece of tape on it right where it touches the collar.. You will use this to judge how far the new one screws in. Unscrew the tie rod end & count the number of turns it takes to come out of the collar. When off, lay it beside the new tie rod end & compare them. They should be the same. If so, mark the new one at the SAME spot as the old one & screw it in the collar counting the turns as you go. The tape/marking will tell you when you're getting close. When you have reached the correct number of turns, slip it into the hole in the steering arm & reattach the nut securely. Here you should use a torque wrench, but if tools are minimal you won't have one so just make sure it is as tight as it was when you took it off. Reinstall a new cotter pin. Make sure the tie rod end is level so you have the same amount of movement front to rear (this puts the tie rod end at neutral position so it doesn't bind) & tighten the clamp & you're done. This will put your toe in back to where it was before the tie rod end got worn out. No need for a $75. alignment lol
    As far as doing both sides? If the mech didn't try and sell you both, then the other one is probably ok, but you should check it if in doubt. Have a helper turn the steering wheel back & forth while you watch the other one. If it has play in it like the bad one, then Yes replace it too. And yes, you definitely should do this before you drive from Salt Lake back to New Jersey. Sorry I don't have any advice on tires.

    edit** are you sure the mechanic said tie rod end & not ball joints? I ask because $400. is extremely high for a tie rod end replacement. Even Conrad Hiltons mechanic doesn't charge that much to do one on his Rolls.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2010
  3. sscamaro41087

    sscamaro41087 New Member

    Ok thanks alot man. This seems pretty simple... When i moved to Salt Lake City I lost all my connections. Luckily my neighbor is going to help me change it out. Yes, 400 for the repair. I originally brought it in for a inspection and he said it needed to be changed so on my receipt he gave me the price of parts and labor and it said 396.00 I knew it was a crazy price. I would think this job would take around an hour tops to do so Im going to do it myself that mechanic can pound salt. I really appreciate your help Im hoping this goes smoothly. One last question even if the tire is wearing to one side more than the other you dont think I need an alighnment?

    ---------- Post added at 08:00 PM ---------- Previous post was at 07:58 PM ----------

    Would you go with moog or just an inhouse brand at autozone? I dont do any offroading or heavy towing!
  4. Enkeiavalanche

    Enkeiavalanche Loving the Outdoors Staff Member 5+ Years ROTM Winner 5000 Posts

    Moog are always good and strong.. Where in NJ were you?
  5. stephan

    stephan Rockstar 4 Years 5000 Posts

    ha ha, that's not exactly what I said but could be misconstrued as that. If you can get the new tie rod back on exactly like the old one was, then your toe in would be back to where it was before the old tie rod wore out. As far as your tire wear I can't see them & have no clue if you have alignment issues, or whether your tire wear was caused by a bad camber or toe setting.
    If a vehicle has too much positive camber OR too much toe in, it will cause the tires to were on the outside edges. Too much negative camber or too much toe out will cause them to wear on the inside edges.
    After you put your new tie rod end on, you can check your toe in with a simple tape measure. It's very easy & accurate. Make sure your wheels are pointed straight ahead.
    The only hard part about this, is that you "should" hold the tape halfway up the height of the tires when you measure. If a 30" tall tire, hold the tape 15" above the floor, on both the front & rear measurements. This will make it extremely accurate because the camber angle won't affect the measurement as much as if you were to hold it higher or lower. This can be difficult because of interference of frame members steering links, exhaust systems etc. So find out where you have the lowest restriction, (front or rear) & if you can't hold it half way up the tire, then hold it as high as you can, & then hold it that same height on the other side. The tape must be level side to side, & front to rear for accuracy.
    Have your friend hold the end of the tape on the inside edge of the inside tread of one tire while you measure to the exact same spot on the other tire. Write down the exact measurement to the 1/16". Now measure to the exact same place on the backs of the tires. You will see a difference between the two numbers. If the rear number is bigger it is toed in. If the rear number is smaller it is toed out. You want toe in! Otherwise it's going to waunder all over the road. Adjust both the tie rods untill the front measurement matches your vehicles suggested toe in. Ask any alignment shop what your toe in should be or look it up. It should be around 1/8' to 3/16" ie; The front measurement should be around 1/8" to 3/16" LESS than the rear measurement. (Useing both tie rods & moving them equal amounts will keep your steering wheel centered.) If your steering wheel has been off one way or the other, now is the time to adjust it. You can bring it back to center by adjusting the appropriate tie rod(s).
    This probably sounds all "shadtree" to you, (and it is ha ha) but I used to do wheel alignments at der Porsche/Audi Dealership, & the stuff I used there looked fancy, but was nothing more than bubbles & levels & linear measurement, & I've been setting the camber & toe on this truck for 10 years with a level off the side of the wheels, & a tape to set the toe & I've never had my tires wear unevenly. I also set my IROC Camaro this way for 5 years before that, & haven't paid for an alignment in 15 years. ha ha, that's a lot of extra money to spend on beer :)

    Moog parts are good. If they have one buy it. I don't know what Autozones brand is so I can't recommend it.

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