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'01 Outback H6 LL Bean - 170,000 miles
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Discussion Starter #1
We have a 2001 Outback LL Bean Edition with the H6, with just shy of 150,000 miles on it.

Recently, front suspension got noisy (clunky over bumps), so I removed the front wheels today to have a look.

First, I found that the balljoint on the right side has some play in it. The one on the left has no play in it. It's possibly due to the fact that we were running different tires with different amounts of wear up front, but maybe there's another reason why only one balljoint is loose.

Secondly, I found that the tie rod nut on the right side was a couple of threads apart from the tie rod end, which results in some side-to-side play that makes the clunk. Just a week ago, we had an alignment done. So I'm thinking -- hmmm, why did they leave it loose? Then I tried to tighten the nut while holding the tie rod shaft, and it's frozen. The tie rod nut on the left side is frozen, too. I tried PB Blaster, I tried hammering, I tried leverage, but the nut won't budge, and I don't want to strip the hex pattern on the tie rod either.

Does anyone have any advice on how to deal with this? The threads on the tie rods look really badly rusted:

1) Should I use a nut splitter tool or do I need to use a metal saw to split the nut, so I can remove it and replace it?

2) Is there a better tool than a open-ended 13mm wrench to hold the tie rod in place while trying to turn the nut?

I will need to remove these nuts anyway because I will have to replace the inner tie rod end boots -- they are tearing.

 

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'05 2.5i H4 4-Speed Auto w/Sportshift
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514 Posts
Worst case scenario is you will need two new tie rod ends. I suppose you could disconnect both ends, cut the nut off and see if you can install a new nut of the same size, I think the new tie rod ends for my '05 came with new nuts included. I installed Moog aftermarket, I like them better as they have a grease zerk in them.

I carefully removed the boot band and had to replace the right inner tie rod as well, into the rack.

There was a square end to the inner tie rod and a washer that was peened over the nut to prevent the tie rod from spinning out or in once installed. The job wasn't very difficult. I used my wife at the steering wheel, turning it back-and-forth about halfway turn on the wheel while I held a wrench against the tie rod inside-end to peen over the washer once the new rod was installed (wrench between the inner rack end and washer to re-bend the tabs over). She said she was turning the wheel about half way. I told her the rod was moving left and right about 1/8" to 1/4" maximum, we were both surprised!

Plan on buying new boot metal straps, I was able to save the original, but it took a lot of time working in a tight place!
 

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'01 Outback H6 LL Bean - 170,000 miles
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52 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Worst case scenario is you will need two new tie rod ends. I suppose you could disconnect both ends, cut the nut off and see if you can install a new nut of the same size, I think the new tie rod ends for my '05 came with new nuts included. I installed Moog aftermarket, I like them better as they have a grease zerk in them.

I carefully removed the boot band and had to replace the right inner tie rod as well, into the rack.

There was a square end to the inner tie rod and a washer that was peened over the nut to prevent the tie rod from spinning out or in once installed. The job wasn't very difficult. I used my wife at the steering wheel, turning it back-and-forth about halfway turn on the wheel while I held a wrench against the tie rod inside-end to peen over the washer once the new rod was installed (wrench between the inner rack end and washer to re-bend the tabs over). She said she was turning the wheel about half way. I told her the rod was moving left and right about 1/8" to 1/4" maximum, we were both surprised!

Plan on buying new boot metal straps, I was able to save the original, but it took a lot of time working in a tight place!
Thanks for that info -- very useful!

Now, is the tie rod supposed to be able to spin freely, or is it supposed to be bolted securely to the rack?

The reason I ask is because in order for me to tighten the alignment nut against the outer tie rod end, I had to spin the tie rod itself, since the nut is frozen. I believe that's what was done at the shop that did alignment -- just spinned the tie rod since the alignment nut is frozen.

I wanted to replace the outer tie rod ends anyway because they are old, and I believe the rubber isn't too good on them. Since I have this problem with the tie rods, would I be better off to just replace the tie rods at the rack as well? How expensive are they and is that a difficult repair if I have to replace the inner tie rod boots anyway?
 

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'05 2.5i H4 4-Speed Auto w/Sportshift
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514 Posts
I think the inner tie rod end was maybe $29 or so, you then also need the outer tie rod end that bolts to the steering knuckle or some such thing.

Anyway, I believe you are correct that it turns. I remember, after tightening the large nut that is inside the rubber boot, and after peening the washer, I kind of remember that it did turn, but don't quote me on that.

If your rack is the same as my OE 2005, then we are comparing the same two.

I got an online account with ALLDATAdiy.com Leading Source of Factory Automotive Repair Information

I signed all up and went through the whole process then, for $28. per year, I thought I would hold off on paying, not quite sure to get the online shop manual or not. Money is tight these days, the very reason I tackled this entire job! We could have NEVER paid for a mechanic to do all these things, the bill would have been more than the car is worth!

The next day, perhaps 24 hours later, I received an email from them for a $10 discount if I order right now!

I went right on and got it for $19.95 for the year, not a bad price at all, considering I had my wife's car on jack stands for a month while I replaced over $2,000 (WHOLESALE) worth of parts!

The car now is tighter and handles better on rough roads than when it was brand-new! At 120K miles, I replaced the right-front axle, all rotors all brake calipers, installed all new parking brake components in the back, all new Ceramic brake pads, new lower right ball joint (man, that took three days), all new struts (bought two pairs of spring compressors), new strut top mounts for front and rear, among other things.

I changed ALL fluids to full synthetic, using Valvoline Dexron VI ATF Full Synthetic (backwards compatible with Dexron III which the car calls for). The car never shifted so good! I flushed all the original oil out of the trans by using the separate oil filter return hose which is mounted in the left fender. Kept the ATF pan up between two to four quarts and had the OUT line connected to a short hose and into a gallon jug that I could see from the driver's seat. Fifteen seconds, or so, would pump 1/2 gallon of oil from the trans. It was all brown, when I got to the 12th quart the oil coming out matched that going in, RED! Changed the transmission oil filter. Flushed the power steering and changed to the same as the trans fluid.

After everything, I had the car aligned. It's better than it has ever been, and the gas mileage improved, I believe from changing to all synthetic.

Drained the rear and front differentials completely then added new Valvoline Full Synthetic 75W-90 Gear oil in both!
 

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2000 Limited Wagon 5MT
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303 Posts
Spray the lock nuts with penetrating oil a few times a day for a couple days. Then heat with a torch and I bet they will come loose.
 

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2010 OBW limited 2.5 CVT
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The alignment shop should have informed you of the problem and they should have advised that replacements would be required. Driving with the jam nut loose will allow the toe to adjust itself. Also, there is a slight looseness in the threads (remember that clunk?). This is tolerance clearance. The two pieces being able to move is wearing the threads wich will eventually strip the threads resulting in a tie rod separation (don't want that to happen at highway speeds). If they are that rusted, it is just best to replace them rather than trying to wast time with a quick fix.
 

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'01 Outback H6 LL Bean - 170,000 miles
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52 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
The alignment shop should have informed you of the problem and they should have advised that replacements would be required. Driving with the jam nut loose will allow the toe to adjust itself. Also, there is a slight looseness in the threads (remember that clunk?). This is tolerance clearance. The two pieces being able to move is wearing the threads wich will eventually strip the threads resulting in a tie rod separation (don't want that to happen at highway speeds). If they are that rusted, it is just best to replace them rather than trying to wast time with a quick fix.
Needless to say, I will be having a word with them. I've used that shop on a number of occasions without problems, so maybe I got unlucky with one of their techs this time.

I'm leaning toward replacing the tie rods. It's a shame that there's no bellows to protect those threads near the outer tie rod ends from such wicked rusting.

What's a good source for steering and suspension parts for Subarus? I will need ball joints, outer tie rod ends, inner tie rod ends, and the rubber bellows for the inner tie rod ends. I want to make sure I'm getting quality stuff -- I'd go with dealer parts, but I'm wondering if anything else will be less heavy on the valet while still delivering good quality?
 

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'05 2.5i H4 4-Speed Auto w/Sportshift
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514 Posts
Whoever sells Moog parts, I would go with (Parts-Master is the name of the supplier to my local auto store I have good luck with).

Look up your nearest Parts-Master store.
If not, then call around and ask who sells Moog suspension parts.

I wouldn't put Subaru parts on a car that old unless I absolutely could not get them elsewhere, as I get my parts wholesale the way it is now. Subaru parts are anywhere from 25% to 100% more money than the Moog aftermarket parts.

When I replaced the front strut upper mounts, I couldn't get the proper ones anywhere and finally had to resort to the dealer. What was $40 to $60 everywhere for a similar top mount I ended up paying about $96 for (X2).
 

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2000 Outback Limited, Dual Range 5 Speed
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899 Posts
Tie rod should turn freely as that's how toe is adjusted, so by turning the rod to tighten the nut you are actually changing the toe of the vehicle, clunk could also be the sway bar link bushes as they look pretty well done in by how they look in your photo.

And yes the alignment shop should have told you about the locked up nut at the least, but they really should have told you they couldn't perform the alignment and why. This is one case where they should have tried to up sell the repair also.
 

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03 Outback H6 base
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246 Posts
2X on the alignment shop should be informed of the clunking problem and what you have observed. I wouldn't touch it till they have a look at it.

Is it still in alignment with the nut loose? or Does tightening it bring it back into spec?

Can you take it in soon? The sooner the better....

.
 

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Car: 2008 Tribeca, 2010 LGT, Sold: 2005 XT Limited
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I'm not sure, but is one side a left-handed thread?

Tom
 

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'01 Outback H6 LL Bean - 170,000 miles
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52 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
I procured all the parts, now I have a few pre-install questions, so I'm not missing anything when I need to do the job.

The rubber bellows (boots) I got from the dealer for the inner tie rod ends do NOT come with any clips/fasteners. Is it possible to save the boot fasteners that are on the car right now, or are those one-time use? I'm particularly concerned about the inner clips.

Also, what size wrenches do I need to remove and reinstall inner tie rod ends? The inner tie rod end seems to fit a 32-mm wrench... Is there a counter-hold on the rack side?

Thanks.
 
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