The nice thing about a van is that the steering rack isn't in a cramped location. I've changed a tie rod with little trouble and without the special crow's foot extension required for some tie rods. Of course, you have to remove the outer tie rod end from the steering knuckle. Then remove the boot clamps and slide the boot outboard to expose the inner tie rod end. It has hex flats, so you should be able to turn it off the rack and install a new one with the right size open end or adjustable wrench. Count the number of threads to the outer tie rod end, and either install the old outer end or a new one, if you're so inclined, at the same location. Of course, that's only approximate, and you'll need a wheel alignment afterward. Don't forget to slide the new boot, or the old one if still serviceable, onto the rod before putting on the outer end. Install the boot onto the rack with a new clamp, taking care to reinsert the vent tube into its little hole.
Actually, I guess it's possible to unscrew the tie rod from the outer end without removing the latter from the knuckle. I guess you would have to loosen the jam nut holding it in place on the rod, though.
Regarding the broken bolts, I think these thread into the frame rather than a nut. Check to see if there's enough extending on the other side of the frame in a place you can get a small pair of vice grips on it and maybe turn it out. Otherwise, your options are a screw extractor, and if that doesn't work, drill and tap.
Friday, July 11th, 2008 AT 3:30 PM