Here are a few symptoms that you may notice when you have worn tie rods.
- Uneven Tire wear - One of the most common symptoms of worn tie rods is uneven tire wear. Typically the inside or the outside of the tire will wear much faster than the rest of the tire.
- The steering feels loose - Another common sign that your tie rods need to be replaced is the 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.
What you will need
A list of tools and parts that you will need.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 BMWs use a washer with tabs that are folded inwards.
- Fold the tabs out with a needle nose plier in order to remove the 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 outer tie rod from the 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.
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 the 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 counterclockwise.
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 a washer with tabs.
- Bend the tabs inwards towards the 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.
- 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.
Get your front wheels aligned.
You have replaced BMW tie rods. You may notice that the steering wheel is not in the center or that your BMW pulls to the left or right. You will need to take your BMW for a front wheel alignment.
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.
Why should I get a wheel alignment?
When you replace the BMW tie rod ends, you throw the wheel toe out of alignment. Your BMW dealer can do this or any wheel alignment shop.
BMW uses the same tie rod design among many models.
This DIY guide will help owners of BMW 1-series, 3-series, 5-series, 6-series, 7-series, X1, X3, X5, X6, Z3, Z4.
- 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 an 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.
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.