Further to my posts on track rod end replacement and refurbishment, I thought I’d write up my experiences with the new Hill Engineering track rod ends. My new (to me) F430 had significant play in both sides and faced with the choice of replacement or refurbishment I thought I’d give the new Hills items a whirl.
The Hills tie rods appear to be machined from a solid piece of aluminium fitted with one of their famous stainless steel ball joints (upper) and a pair of dust covers. They have also helpfully siliconed the dust covers in to reduce moisture ingress.
One of the advantages of buying these is that if the joint did fail in the future then just the ball joint could be replaced quite easily. However, there is a pricing oddity that doesn’t make this worthwhile. A track rod end is priced at £155. An upper ball joint is £115 and the boots are £18.50 each – by my calculations this makes the track rod end body priced at a paltry £3. Clearly there is significant margins in the ball joints and boots. (All prices are plus tax).
Fitting was dead easy – first of all remove the road wheel.
Next the bolt holding the track rod end to the hub needs to be loosened – use a 10mm hex bit.
Before removing the bolt loosen the locking nut on the steering rack – you’ll need a 13mm spanner to hold the rack rack and a 22mm spanner on the lock nut.
Wind the lock nut back and put some penetrating fluid into the threads of the track rod end.
Now wind the lock nut back up to the track rod end until it just kisses it.
Now the bolt holding the track rod end to the hub can be removed.
Withdraw the bolt and clean it up.
There is a balancing spacer fitted in the hub. If it doesn’t come out with the bolt make sure it is fitted (centred) properly.
The hub can now be swung out of the way.
The old track rod end can now be wound off the rack – use a 13mm spanner to stop the rack from spinning.
You can see the state of my rubber boots in the picture above. This was what was underneath – it appears that these are made from the same chrome plated mild steel chocolate that the OEM ball joints are made from.
One the face of it the Hills part is the same as the OEM.
Put some anti seize compound in the threads of the new track rod end.
Wind the new track rod end onto the rack until it just kisses the lock nut.
Refit the bolt holding the tie end to the hub.
Now tighten the lock nut and repeat for the other side.
If I was using OEM parts I could be confident that this method would mean the toe would remain the same. However, since this is the first time I have used the Hills parts, and as I have a Hunter alignment machine a short drive away, I thought I’d get a reading and took the car to Wheel Power.
I was surprised to see an additional 15 degrees of toe in on both sides. I strongly suspect this is from the fact the Hills parts are aftermarket as I have a receipt in my history for a geometry check fairly recently and the toe was spot on. It doesn’t matter as the correct setting was quickly dialed in but it does mean that when using Hill track rod ends the toe must be checked.
The steering now feels nice and direct and the noises have gone.
Other posts in this category: Suspension
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