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Steering Tie Rod Replacement 456/550

Discussion in 'Technical Q&A' started by Diablo456, Sep 19, 2006.

  1. Diablo456

    Diablo456 Karting

    Jul 27, 2006
    143
    #1 Diablo456, Sep 19, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    While changing the tires on my 456 (2000 MGTA), I noticed a large amount of "slop" in the steering linkage, nearly 1" at the tire edge. This explained some vibration and wandering on the highway. On inspection, I found the inner tie-rod ball joint severly worn and in need of replacement.

    So.....

    Just try to get this part from Ferrari. The inner tie rod is NOT listed as a separate part, and Ferrari requires you to purchase an entire new steering rack! Calls to numerous Ferrari dealers, parts counters and aftermarket suppliers gave no solution. Well, given that the tie-rods are common replacement items on every other car, I set about finding an alternate. I found a great solution, which I document below.

    The steering rack is made by ZF. The inner tie rod unscrews from the rack with 16x1.5mm threads (see pic 1, below, on the 456 it helps to remove the protective cover under the car and the steering boots as well). The outer threads (into the ball joint on the steering knuckle) are 14x1.5mm threads.

    After much investigation, I found a supplier for tie rods that *almost* fit. These are for early 90's Volvos with the ZF steering rack. Good news: both ball joints are drop-in replacements for the Ferrari rack (16x1.5mm thread on one end, proper ball-joint taper and length on the steering knuckle end). Bad news: the rod thread is wrong (14x2mm instead of the needed 14x1.5), and the rod/ball joint combo is too-short by about 1". The Volvo tie rod assemblies I used are available from eEuroparts.com, item #271389 (shown as the shorter assembly in the photo #1, below).

    I decided to use the entire Volvo assembly, but needed a way to lengthen the rod and preserve the strength and adjustment range of the original. Long story short - I bashed a second rod assembly by cutting both the threaded portion of the tie rod and the threaded assembly from the ball joint. Pictures tell the story, below. I shortened the tie rod by about 3/4" to allow it to fit the new ball joint assembly with the right length.

    Careful measurement all-along assured both plenty of thread into each part (for strength) and enough adjustment range to give a good alignment. I used medium-strength (blue) threadlock on both the inner ball joint-to-rack conneaction and the threaded assembly which lengthened the outer ball joint. No threadlock on the tie-rod to ball-joint so that adjustments could be easily done (and this joint is locked with the nut you see below as well). I reused the steering boot, as you can see as well.

    Thought I'd document this fix for others, was going to be a pain. I guess we shouldn't be suprised that Ferrari provides no inexpensive part for a known wear item (inner tie rod). Total cost: $99 for the 2 tie rod assemblies. YMMV.

    Pics tell the story, below. Picture 1 shows the worn, original tie rod on top, and the stock, Volvo ZF assembly on the bottom (too short by about 1"). Rest are self explanatory.
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  2. cwwhk

    cwwhk Formula 3

    Nov 13, 2003
    1,535
    Hong Kong, Tokyo
    Full Name:
    Wayne
    Great research and write up. Thanks for sharing.

    Why did you use blue instead of red threadlock? Was that specified by factory manual? I would have thought red because no lock nuts on either end.
     
  3. Diablo456

    Diablo456 Karting

    Jul 27, 2006
    143
    No spec in the factory manual for any threadlock; stock assembly had none.

    Volvo factory manual specs blue threadlock.

    This is not a free-floating joint (for which red would be used). In both cases, the joint is hard-against another component. Red is very hard to disassemble, and future replacement will breaking this joint. I used blue as a precaution (but probably not needed given the hard-contact of both joints).
     
  4. GCalo

    GCalo F1 Veteran

    Sep 15, 2004
    6,988
    Northern California
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    Greg Calo
    Very, very clever indeed!

    Well done.
     
  5. ferrarifixer

    ferrarifixer F1 Veteran
    BANNED

    Jul 22, 2003
    8,520
    Melbourne
    Full Name:
    Phil Hughes
    I had a rack repaired locally and according to my rack specialist, a Ford Territory tie rod was a straight swap... threads/lengths etc all matched up.
     
  6. enbanfe

    enbanfe Karting

    Jan 25, 2006
    126
    Princeton NJ
    Full Name:
    Ed
    I need to replace my tie rods and want to try the Ford Territory option (rather than the $4000 new steering rack when I don't need the whole thing option).

    Can anyone recommend a Ford dealer in Australia? Or some online source to order parts from Australia?

    Thanks,
    Ed
     
  7. Eric Cruz

    Eric Cruz Rookie

    Aug 21, 2009
    27
    Barhamsville, VA
    Full Name:
    Eric Cruz
    I took my 1999 550 into my buddy's shop this morning to get a State inspection sticker. Just delivered from Florida and they don't do inspections there, I guess. Since I hadn't had the car up on my lift yet, we decided to go ahead and give the wheels a pull. A little bit of play in the right side, but nothing like the 1" described here - maybe 1/16" to 1/8". Can't feel a thing in the steering, but I still don't like it. I'm going to put it on my lift at home tonight to confirm, but it looks like the inner joint by the rack as described here.

    Has anybody found a supplier of the tie rod with the inner joint, other than using Diablo's method? I got excited when I saw "tie rods" on ICP's site for 200 bucks, but it appears these are really the links for the sway bar.

    I'm just wondering if anything has changed in the last 3 years since this post was initiated. Can I buy the actual tie/track rod with the inner joint anywhere? Or is sending the rack/rod end to a rebuilder like Atlantic Enterprises the best idea.

    Thanks for any information anyone can provide.

    Best regards,
    Eric
     
  8. mwhitesell

    mwhitesell Formula 3

    Sep 17, 2006
    1,083
    Atlanta
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    Mark
    Atlantic does a great job. I would let them do it. They are pretty cheap too.
     
  9. PAP 348

    PAP 348 Moderator
    Moderator Owner

    Dec 10, 2005
    86,068
    Mount Isa, Australia
    Full Name:
    Pap
    G'day mate!! :):)

    If you read the post below made by Edward, I actually helped him get some innner rack ends for his 456, from Australia. :):)

    I tried chasing the Ford Territory ones at first for Edward, but also found out that you have to buy the complete steering rack to get them. The 2WD rack was around AU $2000 and the 4WD rack was around $3000. :eek::eek:

    Anyways, I ended up sourcing some rack ends for him from another friends, friends workshop. :):)

    If you need some, let me know and I will get onto him Eric. :):)

    IIRC, I think they cost around AU $50 each and whatever postage cost was to the USA. Id say around AU $150 should cover it. :):)

    Anywho, these rack ends are a direct bolt on replacement. Tell me the length you need and thread pitch at either end and I will ask him what he has on the shelf. He stocks them ALL the time he told me last time. :):)

    Send me a PM if you like Eric. Cheers mate
     
  10. Eric Cruz

    Eric Cruz Rookie

    Aug 21, 2009
    27
    Barhamsville, VA
    Full Name:
    Eric Cruz
    #10 Eric Cruz, Sep 1, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    Hey PAP,
    Great to hear fom Oz!! I just had the car up on my lift tonight (see pic below), and confirmed it is a very slight amount of play in the inner rod end. Of course they have to be a standard part for something - Enzo didn't just pull them out of his a$$ - and you have the secret key to getting your hands on them!

    I'll pull it loose and measure thread dia./pitch, and OAL from end-to-end of rod itself (with integral inner joint). Once I get the data, I'll PM you back and we'll get it done. It may be a couple weeks or so - with travel and having to get my racecar back together, I'm up to my ears. I wish I'd seen your post before I put the undertray back on and let the car down! It's minor slop, but I want to get it right.

    The car has 13K mi, but it's 10 years old. Is this to be expected?

    Thanks so much for your willingness to help.

    Best regards,
    Eric
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  11. Eric Cruz

    Eric Cruz Rookie

    Aug 21, 2009
    27
    Barhamsville, VA
    Full Name:
    Eric Cruz
    Thanks, Mark! I'll call Atlantic and see if they can do anything with just the tie rod. After all, North Carolina is much closer to Virginia than Oz is. I appreciate everyone's advice. Great forum!

    Best regards,
    Eric
     
  12. PAP 348

    PAP 348 Moderator
    Moderator Owner

    Dec 10, 2005
    86,068
    Mount Isa, Australia
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    Pap
    Cheers Eric, take your time mate. Whenever your ready. :):)

    I think the inner thread is 16.5mmx1.5mm and the outer is 14.5mmx1.5mm. :):)

    Get me the correct length and Im sure we can get you some. :):)

    Talk soon mate and have fun. :):)

    Cheers Pap
     
  13. Eric Cruz

    Eric Cruz Rookie

    Aug 21, 2009
    27
    Barhamsville, VA
    Full Name:
    Eric Cruz
    Well, I did take my time! Finally pulled the tie rod off earlier in the week and boxed it up to sent to Atlantic Enterprises...when I called them last year (!) they said perhaps if I sent it in they could match it to something. Well, when I called a few days ago to tell them I was sending it in, I spoke with Tabitha and she said "ALL you need is an inner for a 1999 550???" Yes, of course, and she checked and called me back in about 5 minutes. She had one left, with more on order and shipped it to me. $25US. Yep - twenty-five bucks! (OK, shipping was $11.) I still had it on the lift with the undertray off, so it took about 15 minutes to install yesterday. Perfect replacement.

    The invoice lists the part as:
    Item Number TR-1118
    Description: TIE ROD (3417V / 3517V)

    They are in Tabor City, NC at (800) 654-7565

    Their website is: http://www.atlantic-ent.com/index.php

    If you have any steering rack issues at all, I would recommend calling them first. I asked about rack rebuilds for my formula cars, and she said they'd be willing to try! Great attitude.

    Pap - thanks so much for your willingness to help...I might not be so lucky with the next thing, so you might hear from me yet!

    Best regards,
    Eric
     
  14. cwwhk

    cwwhk Formula 3

    Nov 13, 2003
    1,535
    Hong Kong, Tokyo
    Full Name:
    Wayne
    Great info. Thanks for sharing.
     
  15. PAP 348

    PAP 348 Moderator
    Moderator Owner

    Dec 10, 2005
    86,068
    Mount Isa, Australia
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    Pap
    Great to hear Eric! :):)

    If you ever need anything, just ask mate! :):)

    Take care now. :):)
     
  16. 166&456

    166&456 Formula 3

    Jul 13, 2010
    1,720
    Amsterdam
    #16 166&456, Dec 5, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2010
    No it is not - at least it wouldn't be normal wear.
    However it isn't wear, as outer joints generally wear out much quicker than the inner ones. So if it were wear that caused this, the outer one would be much more likely to be worn at least to the same degree if not more.

    Here's what I heard: on my daily driver I had one of these fail and the shop that replaced them told me the inner ones have some kind of collapsible part in them that protects the steering rack in case of a hard blow to the suspension (not necessarily an accident, curbing can apparently already cause this).

    Nothing to worry about, just move along.
     
  17. tazandjan

    tazandjan Three Time F1 World Champ
    Owner Lifetime Rossa

    Jul 19, 2008
    31,819
    Clarksville, Tennessee
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    Terry H Phillips
    There are two US shops that specialize in steering systems. Both have been recommended by FChat members.

    Atlantic Enterprises
    9326 Highway 90
    Longs, NC 29568
    1-800-654-7565
    http://www.atlantic-ent.com/index.php


    Advantage West,
    68805 Perez Road, # F44
    Cathedral City, CA 92234-7227
    760 202 9990
    http://buy-advantage.com


    Taz
    Terry Phillips
     
  18. fridolin_pt

    fridolin_pt Karting

    Mar 25, 2008
    52
    Germany NRW
    I now have the problem with a worn inner joint of the tie rods in my 456 GTM.
    It’s a ZF steering and I have the ZF parts number but they do not produce them any more.
    Is there any new information for a repair/replacement?
    This is the part I need but no way to find it.

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  19. Cribbj

    Cribbj Formula 3
    Rossa Subscribed

    Jan 1, 2011
    2,079
    Houston
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    John
    ADCO in Houston did a great job rebuilding the rack for my 550: http://www.adcopower.net/

    As I recall they used MOOG manufactured outer tie rod ends, so perhaps MOOG make the inner ones as well? Might be worth a call to them. Just don't tell them it's for a Ferrari :).
     
    fridolin_pt likes this.
  20. tbakowsky

    tbakowsky F1 World Champ
    Professional Ferrari Technician Consultant

    Sep 18, 2002
    15,003
    The Cold North
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    Tom
    That's a BMW inner tie rod. Or it looks amazingly close..
     
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  21. fridolin_pt

    fridolin_pt Karting

    Mar 25, 2008
    52
    Germany NRW
    Thank you. Any chance to know which model it was used for?
     
  22. tbakowsky

    tbakowsky F1 World Champ
    Professional Ferrari Technician Consultant

    Sep 18, 2002
    15,003
    The Cold North
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    Tom
    I'm thinking e39,series
     
  23. fridolin_pt

    fridolin_pt Karting

    Mar 25, 2008
    52
    Germany NRW
    There is a similar part in the X5. It is 11 mm longer and on one end the thread is M16x1.5
    The Ferrari part with M14x1.5 at both ends was not used in any other car and is out of production and out of stock at ZF steering Lemförde and the company itself is sold to Bosch, so information of old parts is hard to get.
    I have ordered one and will reduce the thread at the steering end to M14x1.5 which is not too complicated. It is cheap enough to experiment a bit.
    I will report the result.
     
  24. fridolin_pt

    fridolin_pt Karting

    Mar 25, 2008
    52
    Germany NRW
  25. fridolin_pt

    fridolin_pt Karting

    Mar 25, 2008
    52
    Germany NRW
    The BMW part from the X6 was close but too short.
    The solution is SAAB, part No. 93 194 335


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    tbakowsky likes this.

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