BMW Tie Rod Replacement DIY Instructions

BMW Tie Rod Replacement DIY Instructions
Published by YOUCANIC Automotive Experts 
Last Updated Nov 1, 2018 

In this guide, you will find instructions on how to replace out tie rods on BMW vehicles. Replacing a BMW out tie rod is very easy and can be completed in about one to two hours.

In this guide, you will find pictures along with tips that will make replacing BMW tie road an easy process even for a beginner. BMW uses the same tie rod design among many models. This DIY guide will help owners on BMW 1-series, 3-series, 5-series, 6-series, 7-series, X1, X3, X5, X6, Z3, Z4. 

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What you notice

Here are a few symptoms that you may notice:

  • Tire wear - One of the most common symptoms of worn tire rods is uneven tire wear. Typically the inside or the outside of the tire will wear much faster than the rest of the tire. 
  • Steering feels loose - Another common sign that your tire rods need to be replaced is loose steering feel. 
  • Unstable at high speed - If you feel that it is difficult to keep your car in the lane or that the car shifts a lot on uneven lanes, the problem could be the tie rods. 
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What you will need

A list of tools and parts that you will need.

Parts Required

  • BMW Outer Tie Rod
    • Replace both outer tie rods at the same time.
    • Popular brands include Moog, Beck/Arnley, ACDelco, URO.
  • Torx Bit Set
    • T-40 may be needed to prevent the tie rod bolt from spinning. 
    • T-50 needed to remove the pinch bolt. 

Tools that you may need

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Before you start

  • Replace Bad Tie Rods ASAP - Do not ignore a bad tie rod. If the tie rod fails while driving, you will lose steering and most likely end up in a accident. 
  • Replace Both - It is recommended to replace both out tie rods at the same time. 
  • Front Wheel Alignment - Front wheel alignment is required after changing out tie rods. 
  • Verify your Tie Rods are Bad - You can check if the tie rods are bad by jacking up the car. Grab the wheel at 3 and 9 o'clock and try to rock it in and out. There should be no play. If there is, it indicated that the tie rods are the culprit. 
  • Check inner tie rods as well - Some cars have inner tie rods and outer tie rods. A bad inner tie rod will exhibit similar symptoms as a bad outer tie rod. 
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Step-by-step Instructions

Remove front wheel

Loosen the front lug nuts using a 17mm deep socket. Don't remove the wheel yet, just break the lug nuts loose. This should be done while the car is on the ground. Next, jack up your BMW and support it with jack stands. Remove the wheel. Do not rely on the car jack alone. Use jack stands to support and secure the vehicle. Place wheel chocks behind the rear tires to prevent your vehicle from rolling back. 

bmw tie rod replacement diy

Locate the outer tie rod

Locate the out tie rod. On BMWs (and most cars) the outer tie rod is behind the steering knuckle. When possible spray penetrating oil on the castle nut to make the reveal easier. 

bmw outer tie rod location

Loosen lock nut

Use a wrench to loosen the pinch nut. Some BMW models use a pinch bolt instead of a nut. Use a T-50 bit to loosen the bolt where the outer tie rod and inner tie rod connect. Do this before you disconnect the outer tie rod from the steering knuckle. 

bmw outer tie rod lock nut

Remove cotter pin

Remove the cotter pin. This prevents the outer tie rod nut from getting loose while driving. Use a pair of pliers to straighten the pin and pull it out. Some BMW use a washer with tabs that are folded inwards. Fold the tabs out with needle nose plier in order to remove the castle nut. 

bmw uses lock washer instead of cotter pin

Remove castle nut

Remove the castle nut using an 18mm open-end wrench. In some cases, the bolt may start to spin freely. You will need to use an Allen wrench or an 8mm wrench to hold the center of the spinning bolt in place. 

remove bmw tie rod castle nut

Remove BMW outer tie rod from steering knuckle

Use an outer tie rod puller to separate your BMW tie rod from the steering knuckle. If you don't have an outer tie rod puller, use a ball joint fork. 

remove tie rod bmw steering knuckle

Measure the distance

Even though you will need to perform front end alignment, you should aim to keep the alignment as close to the original as possible. To do this, measure the distance from the castle nut to the pinch nut. It may help to use a marker and mark the threads on the inner tie rod where the outer tie rod meets.

Unscrew outer tie rod from the inner tie rod

Once you are done disconnecting the outer tie rod from the steering knuckle, the next step is to completely remove it from the car. To do so, twist your BMW outer tie rod counter clockwise. 

Install new BMW tie rod

Install the new tie rod in reverse order. First, thread it on the inner tie rod. Next, tighten the castle nut. Install the pinch bolt or tighten the pinch nut. Install the cotter pin. If your BMW doesn't have a cotter pin, it should have the washer with tabs. Bend the tabs inwards towards the nut. 

install bmw tie rod

Torque the castle nut

Torque the castle nut to 50 ft. lbs. 
Torque lock nut to 35 ft. lbs.
Verify these values by calling your BMW dealer and providing the VIN of your car.

torque bmw tie rod

Install wheel

Install the wheel. Lower the vehicle and torque the lug nuts. On most BMWs, 90 ft-lb is the recommended torque for the lug nuts. 

Rember to get your front wheels aligned

Congratulations! You have replaced BMW tie rods. You may notice that the steering wheel is not on center or that your BMW pull to the left or right. You will need to take your BMW for a front wheel alignment. Even if you did a great job and the steering wheel is on center and the car doesn't pull, you should get your BMW front wheels alignment or your tires will wear unevenly. When you replace the BMW tie rod ends, you throw wheel toe out of alignment. Your BMW dealer can do this or any wheel alignment shop.

car front wheel alignment shop

With new BMW tie rods installed, you will notice that the car will handle much better and the steering is more responsive. Your BMW will feel and drive like a new car again. If you have any questions or tips please use the comment section below. 

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BMW Tie Rod End Replacement Cost

The cost to change BMW tie rods at the dealer or mechanic ranges between $400-$600. If you decide the change your BMW tie rods yourself, expect to pay anywhere from $30 to $100 for a set of new tie rods. You will spend an additional $100 to get the front wheels aligned. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I replace my own tie rods? 

Yes. Replacing the out tie rods is a simple procedure. Keep in mind that front wheel alignment will be needed after you change the outer tie rod. Most DIYers will need to take the car to a front end alignment shop to get the front wheels aligned. 

Can I remove a tie rod end without a puller? 

Yes. Hitting the steering knuckle where the tie rod end goes in with a hammer a few times will release the tie rod. This method is not recommended and should be used as a last resort. 

How long does it take to change a tie rod? 

In most cases 30 min to 1 hour per tie rod. 

 

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Additional Resources

  1. BMW E90 Tie Rod End Replacement | E91, E92, E93 | Pelican Parts
  2. Changing Your Tie Rods (Do-It-Yourself) - BMW330ci.net
  3. Diy Tie-Rods (inner & Outer) (Meyle HD) - Harold@HPAutosport.com
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DIY Cost
$60-$200
Mechanic
$380-$575
Dealer
$400-$650