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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi everyone, new to the forum here!

Been reading up a ton ever since I got my FJ about a year ago, and have been enjoying it thoroughly on the trails up here in the PNW!

A little bit about the truck before I get into my question. I have a 2010 Toyota FJ with 115,000 miles, stock sized tires, stock CVs but in good condition with no leaks or seaping anywhere, stock upper and lower control arms, solid upper ball joints, lower ball joints are a little damp but nothing too serious as of yet, and a 2in lift. I take it off-roading about once a month, lots of off-camber, etc.

Ive noticed a seeming thud, or slight jutter in my steering when going over certain brief and harsh bumps (think the really short and tall speed bumps) in my FJ ever since I bought it. It never bothered me enough to check it out, but today I thought Id see if I can find something.

I lifted my front tires off the ground one at a time and checked them for play. When moving each tire at 12 and 6 oclock position they were both very tight.
However, when Id move the passenger tire at 9 and 3 oclock position, there was minimal play (I suspect this is normal because there is usually some play in the steering, right?). Along with the slight play there was also a click noise each time I turned the tire. Same thing happened on the drivers side, although it took much more effort and the click wasnt as pronounced (almost like it couldve been resonating from the passenger side, but is this even a possibility??)

Im suspecting that my passenger side inner tie rod is begging for replacement, am I correct?

Is there any way Id hear the passenger tie rod clicking when moving the drivers tire pretty hard?

Could both inner tie rods be shot?

Any thoughts are greatly appreciated!!
 

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MOAB SUPERSTAR
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Welcome! When was your last alignment? You might take it to Toyota and ask for comment on your tie rods while they’re doing it. I’m also wondering about wheel bearings - do you hear the noise (or any noise) more when you’re turning?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you!

I had an alignment done about 7 months ago, and no one mentioned anything to me about tie rods when they were doing it.

Not sure it’s the wheel bearings, When the tires are spun it’s super smooth and quiet, and no movement when trying to tug at it at the 12 and 6 oclock position.
 

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Given the detectable play only at 3:00 & 9:00, and not at 12:00 - 6:00, tie rod ends are certainly possible suspects.

But why would you suspect the inner tie rod ends any more that the outers?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I suspect inner tie rods because Ive heard that a popping or a clicking sound could mean bad inner tie rods, so I just sorta thought it might be that.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I read online that this sound might mean that the inner tie rods are bad, so thought maybe thats my problem haha.

Today I had my wife move the steering wheel back and forth while I checked out the steering components under the truck.
I couldnt hear anything audible, but when Id grab the inner tie rod, I could feel a click or pop each time the steering would change direction. I could feel it on both the driver and passenger side.

The entire rack and pinion also seems to shift slightly when the steering changes direction, is this normal? I’ll try to attach a video of it
 

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.

The entire rack and pinion also seems to shift slightly when the steering changes direction, is this normal? I’ll try to attach a video of it
Yes, it is normal for the rack to move a bit.

The inner tie rod is just under the rubber boot, they're not that difficult to change. I'd do both inner/outer at the same time.
 

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I read online that this sound might mean that the inner tie rods are bad, so thought maybe thats my problem haha.

Today I had my wife move the steering wheel back and forth while I checked out the steering components under the truck.
I couldnt hear anything audible, but when Id grab the inner tie rod, I could feel a click or pop each time the steering would change direction. I could feel it on both the driver and passenger side.

The entire rack and pinion also seems to shift slightly when the steering changes direction, is this normal? I’ll try to attach a video of it
Not sure how you would grab the "inner tie rod" ... there are only two tie rods, one on each side.

Each tie rod has two bearings ("tie rod ends") that are functionally similar to ball joints. The outer tie rod end is replaceable, the inner tie rod end is integral with the tie rod. If you jack up a front wheel, you can usually get your hand around the outer tie rod end and then have someone joggle the tire to apply an alternating force at 3:00 and 9:00. If there is significant wear in the tie rod end, may be able to feel the clearance between the tie rod itself and the steering knuckle where the tie rod end is attached.

You can't physically put your hand on the inner tie rod ends unless you unclamp and pull back the boots at the end of the rack.

The steering rack is supported on four bushings, but curiously they are not available from Toyota as replacement parts. Any significant movement between the rack and the crossmember indicates some problem with the rack mounting.
 

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The steering rack is supported on four bushings, but curiously they are not available from Toyota as replacement parts. Any significant movement between the rack and the crossmember indicates some problem with the rack mounting.
I have a brand new rack and it moves as much as in his in the video. They definitely have some play but not to the point of metal on metal contact. I discovered this when I was troubleshooting a bad steering shaft. The usual suspects sells urethane replacements. I have a feeling no one runs them because if you're pulling the rack it's probably because its blown out.

You can get a better feel for the inner tie rod end condition if you remove the outer from the knuckle so it's free to push in/out. At least you don't have to remove the clamp that way.
 

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Record it with your phone or have a 2nd pair of eyes. But inner tie rod movement is pretty obvious once you have it in the air or on an alignment rack. My alignment tech showed me that mine was out of shape and when I went to replace both the inners, the suspected rod had severe play after pulling. Could also be a ball joint if something else is bad. Take a look at all bushings on the upper control arm and lower control arm ball joints to spindle.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Interesting. Does this mean with the tire off the ground, if the tie rod is reall bad, I should be able to feel it move around by just moving it with my hand?
I can’t move mine at all, and no sounds can be created by just attempting to move the tie rod with my hands.
About lower ball joints, I thought that movement at 12 and 6 oclock would mean bad ball joints. Is this correct? My fronts dont move at all at that position

And what I mean by outer and inner tie rod is really just the part you buy in the store. Theres the outer part of it that attaches to the wheel, and the other part, the inner, that attaches to the rack and pinion, and is covered by the boot.
 

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Just finished a full rebuild of the front end, 265kms. I was chasing steering play and found numerous culprits. At that mileage wanted to change lca's for piece of mind anyways, but there was an overall looseness, for lack of a better word, through out. Check for play at the steering wheel, with wheels on the ground. If your steering wheel has noticeable play this will translate to sloppiness over bumps as you fail to control steering rebound. Single biggest source of play I found was the intermediate shaft. Also had a clicking noise, cuz you're hearing metal on metal play in the lower u joint right at the rack. Shake that joint a little and you'll feel it. Also very visual if you just have someone wiggle the steering wheel lightly and observe, the joint in particular. If that's it, be prepared for a fight, ***** to remove . 2nd was wheel bearing. You could really trace that in a curve when you held the steering wheel in to the turn and the rack was loaded up. You could actually feel the wheel/hub flutter as it followed road contour. This you could also feel that at the wheel when you had the car on the hoist. When the one bearing was out, rollers were black and pitted, cage was weak. bearing was obviously on its way out. Lca's.... After the lowers were out you really can see how badly worn bushings are, but take a flashlight to them and check carefully.Tell ya after all said and done, new driving experience . Driving in high winds was getting to be too much of a lottery game
 
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