Introduction: How to Change the Inner Tie Rod on a Subaru Outback

...As the title says. A national chain wanted over $250 to do this job. I did it myself in about an hour -with tools I had around the house. It should be as quick or quicker for you, if you follow this instructable. If I had had an instructable like this, I probably could have done this in 45 minutes or less, without rushing. The parts ran me about $50.

Step 1: Tools Needed

Wheel chocks or rocks, bricks
Jack stand(s)
Breaker bar/extension
Needle nose pliers
Locking pliers or Vice Grips
Channel locks
Rubber mallet or hammer
19mm open wrench
19mm deep well socket and matching socket wrench
Spray paint or nail polish
Center punch or punch or medium sized, regular, non-high quality flat head screw driver

Step 2: Prep

Park the car on a level surface
Set your emergency brake
Chock the wheels
Loosen tire lugs
Jack vehicle
Place jack stand
Remove lug nuts
Remove tire
Turn steering wheel all the way right if working on right tire -so that the front of the wheel you are working on faces out. Turn steering wheel all the way to the left if working on the left tire.

Step 3: Removing the Cotter Pin

Using the needle nose pliers, remove the cotter pin on the castellated nut on top of outer tire rod.

Step 4: Removing the Castellated Nut

Remove castellated nut w/19mm socket wrench and/or breaker bar, if needed.

Step 5: Hammer Time!

Knock lower tie rod assy out of steering knuckle assy with rubber mallet or hammer.

The picture shows a ball joint puller that I thought I needed. I did not need it at all, it is only here to save you time and money -by not going to the store and buying one.

Step 6: Mark Your Territory

Mark the current position of the outer tie-rod end with spary paint or nail polish, or whathaveyou


At this point, you can use a 19mm open wrench and a pair of vice-grips to remove the outer tie rod. Secure the vise-grips to the outer tie rod's flat spots, use the box wrench to loosen the locking nut, then unscrew the outer tie-rod. Count or mark the threads. If you were just doing the outer tie rod, you'd be done here.


Step 7: Removing the Boot: Part One

Using the needle nose pliers, remove the spring clamp on the end of the inner tie rod boot.

Step 8: Removing the Boot: Part Two

From the front of the car, with your head near the fog lamp, look for the other end of the inner tie-rod rubber boot. On the tie-rod shaft, closest to the center of the car is a 1" flap at the end of the rubber boot. Flip the rubber lip towards the center of the car to expose the retaining wire or ziptie.

Remove ziptie or retaining spring

Step 9: Removing the Boot: Part Three

Go back to the side of car, where you removed the castellated nut

Grab the boot and slide it towards you. Alternatively, you can roll the boot over itself. This will expose the inner tie-rod end.

Step 10: Unstake My Heart: or Unstaking the Washer

At the rear of the inner tie-rod is a staked washer of sorts, you must unstake this washer. I used a flat head screw driver and a hammer. A punch is the proper tool. I didn't have one handy.

Step 11: Get a Grip!

Using the locking pliers, grip the flat edges of the inner tie-rod ball/socket assy.

Loosen and remove the inner tie-rod.

Step 12: On Comparing Rods

My replacement inner tie rod was a different style than the original, so I lined up the sockets and then screwed the old outer tie rod to the same position compared to the old inner tie rod.

Be sure to put the boot back on the inner tie rod BEFORE securing the outer tie rod to the inner tie rod. I didn't do that in this picture, so I wasted a few minutes taking it apart again.

Step 13: Installation Is the Reverse of Removal

Installation is the reverse of removal. My iPhone's battery died, so I have no pictures of this process.  However, it's pretty straight forward.

Thread the boot onto the inner tire rod
Install the inner tie rod with the locking pliers
Stake the new washer
Pull the boot over the inner tire rod and secure it to the same place you unsecured it from
Put the outer tie rod back into the wheel assy.
Replace castellated nut
Put new cotter pin in
Put wheel back on


With the inner tie-rod off of the car, slip or thread the boot on. I had to thread it on.
If the cotter pin wont come out, then break off what you can and torque it out with the 19mm socket.
If you can't get the remnants of the cotter pin out of the threaded rod on the outer tie-rod end, drill it out. I used WD-40 as a drill lube.