My Own Maserati with this Issue
Let me start this post with my own experience, and how I came to design and put together an aftermarket kit for the above titled cars as an alternative to the OEM Maserati replacement.
My first Maserati was an 02′ “CC” Spyder. I was driving my wife to work at Harvard Med. School going down Storrow drive from North of the city. Now if you have been blessed with driving in Boston you realize you are amongst a special breed of drivers which could be another post altogether.
I decided to go around another car that seemed to be more focused on texting or whatever they were doing. As I double down shifted the Mas. I swung around, and came to the front of the car to change back into the lane. As it required a bit of quick steering effort to get around the car, I originally thought nothing of this car being able to handle it……at least until…………
I came around the car, and it was almost as if the rear of the car shifted (left) and steered at the same time. I almost lost control of the car. I counter-steered which shifted the rear-end around again. My wife had that worried look on her face. I did get the car under control only to think the rest of the way there, and back home something was very wrong.
At the time I wasn’t very familiar with the rear design of this High Performance car. After raising the car with a jack however I noticed the issue right away. Just as if you had a failing front tie rod where you could move the front tire left to right, that’s what happened for both rear tires.
Now to set some back ground with this, you should understand that, I just purchased the car, and it had less than 20,000 miles on it. There were many issues with this low mileage car I had to take care of that as a Blue Collar mechanic you would not expect from any other make/model of car with this mileage.
Rear Tie Rods?
So some high performance cars have incorporated rear tie rods into the suspension. It basically adjusts the toe in/out of both rear tires, and is designed to make the car perform better when steering and cornering. These are threaded into the rear control arms. They aren’t like the front where the inner and outer tie rods are attached to the rack and pinion of the steering system.
So What’s the Issue?
Well Maserati uses a plain spherical bearing that goes over the end of the rear ball joint stud………yes of course a pic:
This isn’t bad in and of itself. What happens is the rubber you see encompassing the metal bearing part deteriorates. At which time it’s really no longer attached to the tie rod sleeve at all. It’s free to move around, and is most noticeable when the car corners, as this shifts the rear of the vehicle. As you can imagine, this isn’t a good situation. But the bad news isn’t over yet, you also cannot purchase these separately through any Maserati parts supplier. Instead you have to purchase the entire control arm, which is roughly almost $1000 USD.
For me, it was unacceptable to purchase an entire control arm for a hundred dollar part at best. So I began to research and develop a different design that would last longer, and be a great alternative.
The beginning photo of this post is a new aftermarket tie rod I installed on a 4200 series car, also partly shown side by side above. Essentially, the aftermarket design is two parts.
One, a threaded tie rod sleeve long enough in length to cover the distance needed from the control arm to the tie rod end itself. It also must have the strength necessary in order to handle the dynamic load force that will be applied as the car is driven. In this situation static load force isn’t as important as they don’t really function sitting still.
I utilized a tie rod sleeve originally designed for a one ton truck to accomplish this. I knew something designed for hard road force use like this would also handle what I needed here.
The second part of this is addressing the issue of the tie rod end going over the ball joint stud but also holding dynamic load force. I actually turned to a part that’s been used for years not only in the automotive industry but, in aircrafts as well.
Naturally, when you say you are utilizing the tie rod sleeve from a one ton truck it’s easy for people to understand it could easily handle anything this little car could throw at it. However, most people don’t know what a Heim or Rose joint is or what it’s function is. Basically it is just a mechanical articulating joint that is used on steering links, tie rods, control rods or anywhere a precision articulating joint needs to be used.
I’m actually not doing anything new with this. You could Google this and find it all over the automotive industry, and in aircrafts.
I used the best type on the market I could find. It’s a racing series, ultra high performance rod end. The ball is 52100 bearing steel, heat treated, and hard chrome plated. The race is injection molded kevlar re-enforced with PTFE (also known as Teflon), self lubricating and self sealing. The body is chrome moly, heat treated and obviously corrosion resistant. It also has exclusive features such as a thicker body for tensile strength, high radial load capacity, and finally metal to metal support for heavy shock loads. Finally, the radial static load is 68.3 kN or a whopping, 15,354.45 lbs. The dynamic load force is estimated at just above 9000 lbs or 4.5 tons.
In comparison to the OEM part, I can not say what the actual sleeve material is made from so I cannot give you the dynamic load force or static load force of it. However, I do know people have cut the end off and threaded it to use a Heim/Rose joint. It could work but I cannot verify that it will work. It wasn’t designed for it. It was designed to have a plain spherical bearing pressed into the end. As far as I can tell it wasn’t design to cut the end off and thread it.
Here is what I can tell you about the actual plain spherical bearing Maserati uses in the end of that tie rod sleeve.
They used an SKF part number GE 15 C. The static load force was 10,125 lbs with a dynamic load force of 4,050lbs. It works in the car because the ratings are where they should be. It just doesn’t seem to last long in this exotic. This is whether it’s sitting and dry rots or is being driven on the street. Many, including myself have had to replace these. I just wanted something better, and so I created this.
As a side note before I show you pictures, let me add this, because I know I will forget. Do not put this unibody car on a four point lift to check the rear tie rods. The suspension hangs, and the car flexes and you will assume that they are okay. Please just use a jack at the jacking point and lift each side slightly to check them.
Below are side by sides of the tie rod kit I created specifically to address this issue in these model of cars. Please also see the post here on the rear ball joint dust covers. If you plan to restore your vehicle back to operating conditions you might as well replace the ball joint dust covers as well. If you are in the UK it will fail MOT, or in the U.S. these conditions of parts will lead to failed state inspections.
I added billet aluminum reducers now to the kits instead of pressed in reducers. It seemed a few DIYers over torqued the ball joint stud nut ripping the boot. You’ll see I actually have them installed above without the high angle reducers below. It’s not difficult but sometimes simpler is best even if it’s slightly more expensive. Here are some photos of what those look like:
Here is the read out of before and after getting the car aligned. Most probably know you will need an alignment on the car after the removal of any suspension or steering parts like this.
Please feel free to contact Formula Dynamics if you’d like to order these. Their product web page is: Here.