Garage => Mechanicals => Topic started by: mineson on 20 April 2006, 09:28 AM

Title: Replacing Tie Rods (a.k.a. Track Rods) and Center Link Drag
Post by: mineson on 20 April 2006, 09:28 AM
Hello fellow W116 devotees.

I finally have a question that I can't find through searching, so I'll be posting it in another thread.  Before I do that, however, I wanted to make my first post to this forum a 'deposit' into the bank rather than a 'withdrawl'.  I have just successfully completed replacing my tie rods and center link and have some insight which I would like to share.  The moral is to always make sure you have the right tools for the job before you start it.

The job is a relatively simple one that I planned to do on a Sunday afternoon: Replace both tie rods, the center link and damper shock.  The shafts of the ball-joint-like ends of these all seat into smooth, slightly conical shaped holes in the steering arms, and are held in place with a locking nut or castle nut and pin.  Removal is as simple as unscrewing the nut and knocking the end out of it's seat with a little force.... or at least it was supposed to be.

I got as far as the 'gentle tap' that was supposed to free the tie rod end, and found that it wasn't going anywhere.  I tried prying it and hitting it harder and harder until the thread of the shaft began to mushroom (I should have left the nut on and banged on that !).  It was sunday evening at this point, so I gave up for the night with the intent of getting a puller the next day.

Mercedes recommends a puller for this (actually 2, one for the tie rods that point down and one for the center link that points up) which I found on-line for $133 before the cost of overnight shipping.  With that as my last resort before sheepishly running to a professional,  I went to to the local auto parts store to see what they had.  I immediately rejected the "Fork" puller, which is a hammer driven fork shaped wedge that you jam between the end and the steering arm, since it looked to destructive and the prying method had not worked the night before.  I then rented a pitman arm puller, which worked to my exuberant relief on the first end, but was too wide to my renewed dismay to remove the other end.  At this point my car was out-of-service, so I went to another auto parts store and ordered a "Scissor" style tie rod puller for $15.

This puller is like scissors or pliers with a pivot hinge in the center, and then it has a claw on one side and a bolt on the other.  Tightening down the bolt forces the claw to close on the tie rod end.  The next day it came in, and I was amazed at how easily I was able to remove the ends and complete the job.

So, what I have learned is that whenever I replace anything that has been on the car for the last 30 years, I will heed Mercedes 's advice on special tools to do the job.  Then I'll go down to the local auto store and find the generic tool that costs 1/10 then price. 

I hope this saves someone the same headache I had.

Title: Re: Replacing Tie Rods (a.k.a. Track Rods) and Center Link Drag
Post by: Denis on 20 April 2006, 11:09 AM
Hello fellows

I have had EXACTLY the same experience a Matt, so his post has X2 value. Read it most seriously and then have a (beer, pastis, campari or other inspirer) to discuss it with mechanical-minded friends  ;D

This is really a great "tips" post.


Paris, France
Title: Re: Replacing Tie Rods (a.k.a. Track Rods) and Center Link Drag
Post by: michaeld on 20 April 2006, 02:43 PM
Thanks for the great post.  It is always nice to know which "unautherized" tools will do the job at a fraction of the $$$.  Hope you keep coming back to just to shoot the breeze with us.  There are folks who can help someone out in a "DefCon 1"-type emergency, but it's also fun just to chat with other w116 enthusiasts about our cars.  Hope to see your 'handle' more.

Title: Re: Replacing Tie Rods (a.k.a. Track Rods) and Center Link Drag
Post by: Papalangi on 28 April 2006, 02:59 PM
An old school mechanic once told me (or maybe I read it somewhere) that rather than hitting the rather obvious end of the stud, you should give the side of the arm.  The hole will distort and the link will pop right out.  I've tried it a few times and it seems to work but your milage will vary.