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Mistake by mechanic?

Question : I sent my car for alignment and asked the mechanic to ensure that the locknut at the steering tie rods was tightened properly after adjustment of the tie rod end/threads. But I am now worried he could have mistakenly tightened the tie rod joint (the rotating joint that connects the tie rod to the wheel hub).

1. Is it possible to tighten this joint with a spanner or a similar tool?

2. Will this cause any adverse effect such as over-tightening, preventing the joint from moving as intended or loosening of the joint and other components, resulting in damage or loss of traction, especially when driving at high speeds?

3. A metal pin below the joint seems to move about freely. is this normal or a sign of wear/loosened part? What are the signs and how do I detect a loose and worn-out tie rod joint and other associated parts?

Answer : I think you are talking about two different things -- the nut that secures the ball joint to the steering arm and the nut that locks the steering rod to the ball joint 1. The nut that secures the ball joint to the steering arm usually uses what is called a castellated nut that has slots cut in the nut and when it is fully tightened, a cotter pin is put through one of the slots and a hole in the threaded part of the ball joint and the pin splayed out. You may find the pin to be able to move around but that does not mean the nut is loose. The pin prevents the nut from unscrewing itself.

2. The nut that locks itself against the ball joint on the steering rod is actually acting as a locking nut to prevent the steering rod from unscrewing itself. It is usually tightened by using two open- ended wrenches to lock the nut securely.

3. A worn ball joint can usually be felt if some- one moves the wheel left and right while you hold the ball joint. If you can feel any movement in the joint, it is worn and should be replaced. 


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