There's nothing more precious than our life to us. And your car might be the second most precious thing in your life. You see, they are both interrelated to each other.
And the tie rod end is like the supreme bond between your life and death as it's a major part of the steering system. As long as they are in good shape, you will get smooth and responsive steering. On the other hand, when they aren't, you may face serious consequences.
Therefore, it's essential to make sure they are performing right. In this article, we will discuss some of the major symptoms of the bad tie rod end. So, let's get on with it.
What’s a Tie Rod?
The tie rod works as a link between your car's steering rack and the steering knuckle of your car. The adjusted sleeve is covered by the inner and outer ends of the tie rod.
It gets activated the moment you move your steering wheel. But don't confuse the ball joints with tie rods as they are not the same thing. Here's you can find out why Ball Joints and Tie Rods - What's the Difference.
What do tie rods do?
The rod will push and pull the car's wheel and, that's how it turns. You know, you can't just drive your vehicle without a functioning steering wheel. So, I hope you realize how significant this device is to your vehicle.
What Causes A Tie Rod to Break or Go Bad?
The tie rod end of your vehicle goes bad usually because of the normal wear and tear it gets during the harsh conditions it encounters on the road. If you don't lubricate it regularly, this may also cause it to go bad.
At times in hazardous road conditions, your vehicle runs through potholes, bumps on the way. Or end up hitting some curb too hard and, this could cause severe damage to the tie rod.
Even such damage may cause the tie rod to leak out lubrication. As a result, the tie rod end may bind up or loosen, and, in such conditions, your vehicle becomes quite unsafe to drive.
Symptoms of a Bad Tie Rod End
So, you might be worried about how would you know when your tie rod end goes bad? Don't worry; we are here to help you out. When the tie rod end becomes defective, it will show some symptoms. And in this section, we are going to discuss those symptoms of a bad tie rod end.
1. Steering Wheel Vibrates or Shakes
The tie rod end of your vehicle is the key to maintaining the suspension solid and tight. When it gets loosen or goes bad, your vehicle's suspension parts also loosen.
As a result, you will feel shakes and vibrations while holding the steering wheel of your running vehicle. It starts to increase when you accelerate and turn corners.
2. Poor Front-End Alignment
The tie rod end plays a vital role in keeping your vehicle's front end aligned. And when it gets defective, your vehicle's parts will also start to become loosened. So, the front-end alignment of the vehicle gets messed up and track badly.
You will notice this misalignment when driving the vehicle as it's going to start veering to the left or right by itself whenever you try to point it forward. The moment you remove your hands off the steering wheel, you will know something is not right.
3. Steering Wheel Feels Loose
The steering wheel of your vehicle will start to feel loose when the tie rod end goes bad. You should not avoid this symptom at any cost as it may take away the complete control of your vehicle from your hand. Take the vehicle to the nearest repair shop as soon as possible and get it fixed.
4. Abnormal Sounds
If you notice any abnormal sound while driving the vehicle, such as squeaking or squealing, this may indicate some metal-on-metal contact is not fine.
Especially when driving the vehicle around any corner, if you hear a high-pitched squeaking sound, this may mean the rubber boot of the tie rod end got cracked. And which is causing loss of lubrication.
You may also hear rattling or clunking sounds from the front end of your vehicle. But it's not like that strange noise always indicates a bad tie rod end, so; it's better to check out first.
5. Abnormal Tire Wear
A problem like tire wearing is quite common in all sorts of vehicles out there. And at times, this could be a symptom of a much bigger problem. A bad tie rod end can cause the outer and inner edges of the tires to wear quicker.
You can notice those unusual tire wear when you stand Infront of the vehicle and have a look at the outside and inside edges of the front tires.
It may also lead your vehicle to other issues such as improper tire pressure, bad alignment, or unbalanced tires. Therefore, you should do a close inspection of your vehicle by a good mechanic.
When the tires start to wear out, it may cause your vehicle to vibrate when running. And the intensity of this vibration will start to increase as you accelerate and, your steering wheel might feel extremely uncomfortable to hold. Well, your comfort is not the most alarming issue here.
An extreme level of vibration can lead the tie rod to go bad completely and, that's a very alarming situation.
In such a scenario, the tires might become loose and start to shake on their own, and you might lose total control of your vehicle's steering. If you notice such a symptom, you shouldn't wait any longer. Go fix it as soon as you can.
What Happens if Your Tie Rod Breaks?
You already know tie rod end helps keep the front tires aligned with the steering wheel and help you turn your vehicle's wheel when necessary. When the tie rod ends become defective, you will lose the braking power of your vehicle.
The worst-case scenario is, your vehicle's wheel might just come off the steering assembly and, that will make you lose complete control of the steering system. It would be quite suicidal to drive your vehicle with a bad tie rod end. You should change it immediately when you notice it's not working.
How to Prevent Tie Rod Issues?
If you can do the power management of your vehicle properly, then at least the tie rod end will go bad out of nowhere.
When changing the oil, you need to make sure you wipe off and grease your vehicle's tie rod (ending part) in order to get rid of the debris and increase its longevity. You should know you can't avoid the fact of changing the rod end of your vehicle at some point.
However, if you can do the regular maintenance of the parts, such as lubricating it in time, cleaning it will save you from unexpected consequences on the road and ensure the great-longevity of your parts.
We would suggest you do good research on the vehicle you are going to buy. Such as reading user reviews online, contacting users and know their feedback, or grab a chance to do a test drive. That's how you will know the quality of the parts of that vehicle.
The best thing would be finding an expert or an experienced mechanic who can do a broad inspection of that vehicle. You know there's a saying, "know before you go."
What's the proper way to check a tie rod end?
If you are not an expert in vehicles, it would be better if you go to a mechanic and ask him to inspect your vehicle's tie rod end. That's how you can be entirely confident that your vehicle is safe to drive on the road.
If the tie rod end displays signs of "free play" or slacks when you push up or down on the road, this may indicate it has become defective. Also, there's another way you may raise the vehicle and detach the front wheels.
If you see any tears, wear, or leaks on the tie rod seals, then you can be sure the tie rod needs a replacement.
Should I replace both tie rods at the same time?
Yeah, it may seem like you need to replace both tie rods together, but some mechanics may suggest you to a varying combination of replacement parts. However, changing both tie rod ends at the same time will reduce your labor cost and keep you safe for a long time.
The Repair Costs to Fix A Tie Rod
Changing the rod tie end of your vehicle may cost you $70 to $200 for the whole-cost of replacement parts and labor. However, the final cost relies on the required parts and models of your vehicle.
As you can see, the tie rod end is a very significant part of your vehicle, especially when it comes to your safety. And you know, safety always comes first.
Your vehicle's tie rod end won't just get fixed by itself; you need to have a clear idea when it needs to be changed and then change it immediately as soon as you notice those symptoms of a bad tie rod end.
When your vehicle's tie rod is in good condition, you will find great comfort and feel safe when driving and, that's something precious.