Steering and Suspension Maintainence:Tie Rods

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The car is getting better by the day. Now with it running great I am turning my attention to the steering and suspension. The steering of a 2002 is one of its strong points. It has been said that it has some of the best steering feel out there and go kart like handling. A well sorted out 2002 is a DREAM to drive on a nice canyon road. Lately the 02 steering has gotten a little vague so when it was up on the lift I began tugging and pulling on the suspension. There is no reason for sloppy steering because I have added poly bushings as well as Bilstein Sport shocks as well as Ireland Engineering Stage 2 springs. The drivers side of the car was solid. Zero slop or play. The passenger side had play. Hmmm. Further inspection revealed a tie rod was moving around quite a bit. With a bad tie rod what’s happening when driving is one wheel is perfectly straight and the other wheel is wandering back and forth. The effect may be more pronounced when cornering. I had replaced the center track rod a few years back so the tie rods are deue. There are 2 tie rods on the car and even though the drivers side seems ok, they are pretty cheap so I might as well replace the pair.


Replacement is straightforward, or so I thought. I got the car in the air, removed the 2 bolts that hold the tie rod on and the wouldn’t budge. Grabbed a rubber mallet and nope. Grabbed a hammer and still nothing. So I bolted it all back up and did a little research and realized I needed a tie rid removal tool. I could have kept banging away at it and eventually it would have come out but with the tie rid tool it popped out in seconds. It may have taken more time to jack the car up and put on jack stands than it did to actually remove the tie rids with the proper tool. The great thing is the tool cost me ZERO dollars. Autozone has a tool rental program that rents tools for FREE. You put a deposit down and have 90 days to return it in working condition and you get the full deposit back. So there is no reason not to have the right tool for the job even if it’s a special tool.

Once I got the old tie rod off the car I made sure the new one was the same length and installed it. This should keep the alignment the same. I’m still going to get an alignment to make sure it’s perfect.


The results:

Steering feels great. Even minute steering inputs are translated to the wheels.  Quick change of directions are direct and precise. Point and go is the attitude of the car now. Definitely a worthwhile repair. The next jobs on the list are the ball joints which are original and the pedal box rebuild.  Things are moving right along with the car so far this year!!



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