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Hi,
I've got a 99 ram 1500 4x4 with 60k. I've been noticing something 'clunking' in the front end upon turning and braking. I gues I can feel it more in the steering wheel than hear it.

I found that I could twist the tie rod and drag link rod about 1/16th of a turn due to play in the tie rod ends. There is no side to side or in and out play in the tie rods, just that they will rotate about the ball. Not knowing how unusual this is I found a couple other dodge trucks (older ones) in the parking deck at work and inspected the tie rods on them and found them to have similiar amounts of play. I found a new ram (and learned that it has a different front axle), and it's tie rod was firm but I could only see one end so I couldn't tell if something else was securing it.

Can anyone tell me if this amount of play means I need to replace them?

I can't find anything else loose on the front end. Upper and lower balls are ok. I had my 3 1/2 year old daughter stand on the front seat and wiggle the steering wheel (which she thought was cool beyond description) and I couldn't see any obvious play down to the steering knucle.

thanks
Ken

PS will a standard wheel puller yank the tie rod balls out or do I need to order a special tool?

 

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Your tie rod will twist a little, its just the ball pivoting like it was designed to.
It sounds like you may have a worn track bar, which is VERY common.
The track bar has a ball joint mounted on one end, that is mount to the frame on the driver side, then the other end mounts to the axle on the passenger side.
Have somebody turn the steering wheel (preferrebly with the engine running, and 3 1/2 yr old daughter away from the set parking brake :p) back and forth, and watch the ball joint side of the bar and see if it moves up and down (in and out) as you turn the wheel. If it moves a noticeable amount, that is most likely your problem.
You can replace the whole bar with a stock unit for around $150.00, or go to www.lukeslink.com
and rebiuld it for around $60.00, which is what I did, and have been happy with it. Or the ultimate is a new bar from DT (can't remember full name) they are about $350 and rebuildable, but require some modification to mount.
 

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I just replaced mine. Beforehand, it was very vague steering. It also did this very troubling side to side wobble in the steering wheel while braking. Not fast like warped rotors, but just back and forth real slow. I also heard a "popping" noise while turning into my driveway, it has a gradual 6 inch drop from street level. It was way worse with the worn centerlink though. I had AT LEAST 1/4 inch of play where it attached to the pitman arm.,,,,Cruisin
 
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