A taper breaker is a valuable but often overlooked suspension tool for tire dealerships that perform undercar services—and those shops should be aware of that tool's benefits.
Here's how it may help your service department.
A taper breaker—also known as a tie rod puller—may be conspicuously absent from some service departments. Some technicians have told me that they don't see a need for this device and others have said they've never even seen one.
Instructors at Moog Automotive introduced me to the taper breaker in the later 1970s. I bought one and have been using it ever since. Based on my experiences, it's been one of the best purchases I've ever made.
I've found that this basic but overlooked little tool loosens suspension parts equipped with tapered studs neatly, safely and quickly. This tool also has eliminated other potentially risky methods of separating a tapered stud from a “companion” component in the suspension.
Equally important, the taper breaker has prevented damage to healthy suspension parts.
Technicians often must separate suspension parts in order to perform various repairs. For instance, a tech may need to create extra clearance for a procedure such as drive axle removal, which often requires pivoting or swinging a steering knuckle away from its normal position. However, you can't move that steering knuckle out of your way until you've disconnected the tie rod from it. Experience shows that the tie rod's tapered stud can be lodged very tightly inside the steering knuckle casting—frozen there.
The challenge, then, is to separate a healthy tie rod end from the steering knuckle quickly, safely and neatly. Some workers try to loosen the tie rod by hammering on the end of its stud. Others try to pry it loose with a fork-shaped device called a pickle fork.
Hammering the tip of the threaded stud may not yield the results you expected—because hammering upward against a stubborn object isn't nearly as accurate and effective as hammering downward. Some techs try to protect the stud's threads from the hammer blows by leaving an old nut loosely on the stud. I've seen plenty of cases where this resulted in a mashed nut as well as damaged stud threads.
Still other guys try to “rattle” the stud loose by attacking the side of the joint with a hammer or air tool.
The old pickle fork may loosen that tie rod end, but all too often, the pickle fork ruins a healthy tie rod end by tearing open its protective rubber boot.
I show an example of a taper breaker or tie rod puller in the accompanying photograph. (This one is OTC's No. 7503; refer to www.otc-tools.com.) This is a variation of a common, two-arm puller, but its arms are shaped so that it grips the “companion” part effectively. The companion or mating part in this instance is the steering knuckle.
At the same time, the tool's forcing screw safely applies tremendous force where it matters the most—directly on the tip of the tie rod's tapered stud.
Using a taper breaker, I have easily loosened tapered studs on suspension parts that were 10 or more years old. It's worked effortlessly on cars in the Snow Belt, and I've never damaged threads or rubber boots while using it.
Surely, there are several ways to loosen suspension parts with tapered studs. Every tech has a favorite method. I respectfully suggest that you don't overlook this tool. It's inexpensive, reliable and has served me well.
If you like, send me an email to share what methods work for you.