The tie rod end is the suspension part of a car. It is a small joint that connects the wheel to the rack and supports the car when turning the steering wheel. You have one from each side of the front tires. When you drive a car, you expect the car to drive straight as an arrow unless you tell it to turn left or right. The tie rod controls this. It restricts the movement of the car and at the same time facilitates it.
Usually, it is the rubber bushings in a tie rod that need to be replaced (older cars, newer ones need to be replaced), but since the whole system is in constant operation, the tie rod can be heavily stressed and fail. When this happens, you will notice some major changes in the way your car is driven. It would be best to know when these changes happen so that you can resolve them before any major mishap occurs.
Tie Rod End Symptoms
The tie rod end is not digitally connected to a car, so you will not see warning signs flashing on your dashboard. However, you will see other symptoms if you keep a close eye out for them.
|Bad Tie Rod||Front Wheel Alignment is Distorted|
Jittery Steering Wheel
Wearing of Tires
Knocking noise from suspension when turning
|Worn Tie Rod joint||Repair or lubricate Tie rod joints (Old cars)|
Replace Tie rod/s (Newer cars)
Front Wheel Alignment is Distorted
The tie rod should keep your car straight and aligned. But even though other suspension components such as the sway bar, struts, shocks and stabilizers play a major role in determining wheel alignment, any change in the performance of the tie rod can really distort your front wheel alignment. If you feel that your car is moving unnecessarily to the left or right when braking or driving, the tie rod could probably be badly worn. The good thing about suspension components is that you can feel their performance right up to the steering wheel. So if a component like the tie rod is underperforming, you can feel it in your hands.
Jittery Steering Wheel
The tie rod is directly connected to the steering housing, which means that every movement you make with your hands is imitated by the tie rod at the bottom and makes the car steer. So if you feel that your steering is not responding or is jittery, the tie rod may have a problem. You may feel the steering wheel bouncing or shaking violently at high speeds, which happens when a tie rod is loose. This can easily lead to a problem with another suspension part such as the shock absorber, so it is best to have it checked by a mechanic.
Wearing of Tires
When the alignment is out of balance due to a loose tie rod, the tyres feel the greatest effect. At the end of the day, it is the tyres that take all the friction from the road. So if, after some time, you notice that a certain area of the tyre is worn out, there is something wrong with the suspension components and the tie rod is probably the main cause. The uneven tread depth is a telltale sign of this type of problem.
Solutions for a worn tie rod
Tie rod ends are not very difficult to repair. In fact, they can be repaired at home with the right tools and knowledge. However, it is always better to call on the services of a mechanic in an emergency. With newer cars, you usually have to replace the entire tie rod, as the bushing inside it cannot be replaced.
Replace the tie rod
After you have applied all the necessary solutions and they have failed, the last option is to either replace the tie rod with a new one or repair the old one. You will be surprised to learn that repairing a tie rod is not rocket science. All you need are a few handy tools and time. Once you are able to disassemble the suspension, unscrewing the rod end is a breeze. Once you’ve done that, just clean the tie rod ends very thoroughly and lubricate the joints. Grease is a useful agent that reduces the stress on the metal parts. When you have done all this, insert new bushings and you are ready to go. However, for those who are not interested in repair work, the mechanic is always an option. And repairing a drawbar does not cost much, as it is not labor-intensive work. You should expect to be charged about $70 to $150 for the work.
Replacing a tie rod end is not a big deal either, but the cost or replacement depends on a few factors. Firstly, tie rod ends are made of heavy-duty material such as iron or steel and are therefore not easy to break. So no matter how hard you try to find them, it is very rare for a tie rod end to be broken. If it does happen, the price you have to pay depends on the type of vehicle you drive, the make of your vehicle, and the model. Once this is determined, it’s time to find the part. Spare parts are not easily available when your vehicle is old, and they are expensive for new vehicles. In general, a tie rod end will cost you between $100 and $250 plus labor costs.
Get Your Wheels Aligned
It is possible that you are unnecessarily blaming the tie rod ends for your shaking and unresponsive steering wheel. You could simply go to a mechanic who has a computerized wheel alignment machine. Your car will be fixed in no time. If you still feel the same symptoms afterwards, it is time to call the mechanic. Remember that you should always have your wheels aligned after a tie rod change.
If you bring your car to the service station regularly, this can also reduce the load on your tie rod. This part is subject to a lot of stress while driving, so you are expected to give it a break. General maintenance can make the tie rod connection easier if mechanics apply oil and grease to the joints. However, these solutions are only temporary, and to avoid an unpleasant accident in the future, it is advisable to visit the mechanic and have your tie rod ends repaired or replaced. It is always recommended to replace a worn tie rod.