I took my '70 GTO to have a front end alignment done and they told me the passenger side outer tie rod needed replacing first. So, I ordered a new one and wanted to know if it is a big deal to replace this myself or let the alignment shop do it?
Not too big a deal to replace, BUT, you will still need to have the shop do a final alignment - which you probably know. The trick is to count the number of turns you back the tie rod end out and then turn it back in the same number. That will get it near to where the old one was. Then the alignment shop can fine tune it so your tires do not wear out.
Personally, I would have ordered 2 tie rod ends and installed them both together knowing they were new.
Here is a pretty good YouTube video. However, this video shows replacing the inner & outer tie rod end, but you can see what it will take to replace a tie rod end. You will only be replacing the outer tie rod
, but all the same principals apply as in this video. It will actually be simpler and quicker just to do the outer tie rod end. You don't need all the tools shown, just the basic hammer, needle nose pliers, ratchet/socket, grease gun, and a torque wrench to torque the tie rod end nut to 35 ft lbs and the nut on the tie rod sleeve to 17 ft lbs.
In the video, the guy counts the exposed threads and uses a tape measure. Never did it that way, just counted the turns. The tape measure could be an additional help. You will probably have to move the ball socket to position it to slide into the steering arm, so don't be afraid to put a little muscle into it to move it over/around so it slips into the hole. Then use the nut to draw it in, torque the nut to 35 ft lbs, and install the cotter pin. Now sometimes the hole for the cotter pin can be blocked by one of the lugs on the castle nut and you cannot get the cotter pin through - it is usually just a small amount. Look at the nut/hole and see which way it needs to be rotated so the cotter pin will go in. Back it off or tighten it up a bit to expose the hole so the cotter pin will slip in and then fold it over.
So you can do it yourself or let the shop do it - which they should not charge you very much as you can see how easy it is to replace.