The nuts at the knuckle on my outer tie rod ends are castle nuts, which are locked by cotter pins fed through holes in the studs. The nuts also have a torque spec (27.0±2.5 N∙m, in this case).

If I tighten them down to the midpoint of that spec, the holes and the crenellations may or may not align such that I can get the pin through. It's possible to rotate the stud, since its base is a ball joint, but that requires removing the nut completely so that the stud can be popped out of the knuckle again. That's likely to require repeated attempts and be an utter pain.

Is the correct procedure here to deliberately use the range in the torque spec to allow the hole to line up? That is, should I torque the nut down, then -- staying within ±n -- turn the nut in or out to access the nearest slot to the hole?


5 Answers 5


I would not back the nut off to align the nut with the cotter pinhole. Doing so can result in the taper between the knuckle and the tierod becoming loose. The cotter pin would keep the nut from backing off but it would not prevent the tapered shaft of the tierod from spinning in the tapered hole of the knuckle. As @MikeSaull has suggested lube the threads. I would torque it to spec, then if necessary tighten enough to align the castle nut and cotterpin hole.

  • Interesting perspective. I'd always assumed backing-off was the right way to do it, but what you're saying makes sense. Commented Apr 30, 2013 at 22:34
  • 2
    You may be thinking of adjusting tapered wheel bearings, if that is the case backing it off is the correct technique.
    – mikes
    Commented Apr 30, 2013 at 22:43
  • That's an excellent point about not allowing the stud to be loose in the knuckle. I think this is my answer. I've found, however, that with the hole pointed in the direction I'd like it to be (for ease of future removal), I'm having to go nearly twice the recommended torque to get it to line up. It looks like I will need to combine rotating the stud with a more slight over-torque.
    – jscs
    Commented May 1, 2013 at 17:59

I just stumbled across this entry in my factory manual, which says that overtightening is the correct procedure.

The safe margin is given by rotation rather than torque, however -- up to 60˚ past the point where the specified torque is reached.

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I would use some anti-seize on the threads then tighten it to torque spec. If it doesn't line up then I would tighten it until it does.

This is just what I would do. If it is a weak bolt or a really bad place for the threads to strip then I would just loosen it until it lines up. Once the cotter pin is in it shouldn't go anywhere anyways.

  • I was hoping for some general advice about this arrangement, should I encounter it somewhere else, so your mention of weak bolts or stripping is appreciated.
    – jscs
    Commented May 1, 2013 at 18:00
  • Note that adding anti-seize will throw off the torque reading, causing the bolt to be over-torqued. Probably not an issue in this particular application, but something to keep in mind.
    – TMN
    Commented Aug 31, 2016 at 15:51

Always tighten to align with cotter pin hole on tapered fittings and most anything else that DOESN'T INVOLVE THE LOAD ON A BEARING. I've written and edited dozens of factory tech manuals and technician training programs for auto manufacturers. Doesn't make me an expert but I write like one. ;<)


Tighten lubricated threads with torque wrench set to about 5 ft lbs less than specified then check the castle nut alignment. Torque one ft lb at a time until castle nut is aligned. If the nut aligns within 1 or 2 ft lbs then leave it there since most torque wrenches may be less than accurate. Be careful not to exceed the maximum torque for the stud diameter, thread pitch and nut as specified by industry standards. Exceeding these torque standards will result in catastrophic failure.

  • 1
    Pegasyspoop! This specification "-5 lbft" and the "+1 at a time" strategy is insane. Do you have any published citations or references suggesting this method? Over five lbft constitutes "catostrphic failure" ? Oy vey gevault ishmier...
    – SteveRacer
    Commented Aug 31, 2016 at 3:44

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