Need to replace inner tie rod, rear sway bar bushings and links

Tiny
MISTY BRESSLER
  • MEMBER
  • 2006 NISSAN ALTIMA
  • 4 CYL
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 137,000 MILES
I had inspection at Nissan. I must replace inner tie rods(front) and sway bar bushings and links(rear). I want to purchase the parts myself to cut down some cost considering mechanics are not cheap. What are all the parts I will need to purchase for mechanic to do replacement?
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Wednesday, October 3rd, 2018 AT 8:13 AM

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Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
This is the wrong way to try to save money. You wouldn't bring your own food to a restaurant and ask them to cook it for you. If you did, and you didn't like the food, who would be to blame, and who would bare the cost?

Repair shops buy parts at wholesale, then mark them up just like at every other store where you shop. That profit goes to pay for the person who delivered or picked up those parts, the cost of doing that all over if a new part is defective, broken, or the wrong part. If the mechanic breaks a new part, the shop is responsible for getting another one.

When you supply your own parts, you take on the responsibility for all of those things. If you pay for shipping, then have to order again to correct a mistake, you get to pay that cost again. If a part fails during its warranty period, you are the one who will have to get it replaced, and prove that part is defective. Some shop owners love it when people bring their own parts because it absolves them of much of the liability. This is especially important when dealing with tie rod ends and ball joints that can separate, leading to total loss of steering control, and a crash.

When the shop sells you a part and it becomes defective during the warranty period, the profit they make on all the parts helps to cover the cost of doing the job all over again, including, in this case, the alignment. They don't expect you to pay for the same service a second time.

When you supply the parts, and one becomes defective in the warranty period, you already got the service you asked for, meaning they put your parts on the car. Now you'll have to pay for the same service all over again. Not only didn't you save any money in the long run, you went in the hole.

The only good news here is the mechanic diagnosed what was needed. Too often a car owner comes up with his own diagnosis, then asks to have certain parts replaced. When they don't solve the problem, the customer wasted his money on potentially unneeded parts and services, and the diagnosis and work have to be done all over again. None of that is the mechanic's fault, so you're stuck paying the bill. When your mechanic misdiagnoses the needed parts, reputable shops will step in to help resolve the problem.

The biggest exception to all this is when hard-to-find parts are needed for a rare or old car. Someone at the shop can spend hours trying to locate those parts, often without success, or at highly inflated costs. They would rather let you do that work to save money. They're in business to repair cars, not to locate parts.

Because of all the potential hard feelings and frustration, I have never heard of customers supplying their own parts at new-car dealerships. That applies to the one I worked for too. If yours is okay with this, and you still want to pursue it, these should be standard items at any auto parts store like Napa, O'Reilley's, and Auto Zone. You can find them online too. I use the Rock Auto web site all the time for reference. The first thing they're going to ask you is the engine size, model year, and transmission type. Tie rod ends and anti-sway bar links are usually the same for all engine sizes, but the actual anti-sway bar is generally different to handle the different weight of the car. With Ford products, you'll usually be asked the date of manufacture. That's because Ford often makes mid model-year changes related to the parts they use. That date is listed on the top of a sticker found on the back of the driver's door opening or on the back of the driver's door on most brands of cars.

Also be aware that inner tie rod ends are commonly not available through the new-car dealer's parts department. To insure the quality of the repair, manufacturers often only supply complete assemblies. That's because much of their repairs are for cars still in warranty, and whatever is being repaired must end up in "as-new" condition. That's not the concern with your car, but it means the parts department is going to order inner tie rod ends from a local auto parts store.

Anti-sway bar bushings and links most commonly come as complete kits, with enough parts to do both sides. When a link wears out on one side, the other one is just as old and worn, so it doesn't make sense to replace just one, then do the whole job over again later on the other side. Replacing one link by itself is more difficult than replacing both because of how the bar is held in place and won't move out of the way to improve access. One link can usually be replaced in a half hour, and both can be replaced in less time than that.

If a complete kit is not available, the person at the counter will know what it takes to do the repair, and he will find the links and the bushings. The more common designs are basically a long bolt and nut, but your car uses a different style that is much more prone to wearing out. You'll get a link with a swiveling ball and stud on each end. You should get two nuts with each one too. These can be difficult to remove, so most people use a torch to cut them off. That destroys the old nuts, but it saves a lot of time. The first photo shows what you'll need for one side of your car. The second one shows what the inner tie rod end looks like. You'll need two if both of yours are worn. There's one on each side.
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Wednesday, October 3rd, 2018 AT 7:21 PM

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