Common Signs of a Bad Toyota Tacoma Tie Rod End
The Toyota Tacoma tie rod end attached to the steering rack helps move the front tires as the steering wheel is turned. If this component gets loose or broken, it will be too dangerous for you to drive. A lot of bad car accidents are caused by this component being faulty. If you experience these warning signs, better take a look at the tie rod end right away.
Pulling to one side while driving
Do a road test on your truck by driving on a flat, level, smooth highway. Then, let your grip on the steering wheel loosen enough to let your vehicle run on its own while driving down a straight road. Make sure that the weather is dry and the wind is calm when you do this. If you notice that your vehicle is pulling to one side while you're driving, then the steering components-particularly the tie rod end-might be bad.
Flip-flop wheel shimmy
If your truck's wheels seem to wander and wiggle rapidly back and forth as you drive, then the tie rod end might be loose. To make sure that this component is causing the shimmy, visually inspect the suspension system. Lift your vehicle while it is in neutral gear and with the ignition key in the accessory position to ensure that the steering column is in the unlocked position. Once your truck is secure on the jack stands, move the front wheels. Place your hands on one tire at the 9 and 3 o' clock positions then move it back and forth rapidly. Do the same procedure to the other front tire. If the front end is properly tightened, it should give no signs of excess movement. It should also give you the feeling of the wheel moving back and forth tight to the hub.
Other troubleshooting tips
Before attempting to diagnose the tie rod end, you have to be sure that your tires are not causing the steering problems you are experiencing. Check the air pressure on all four tires, and make sure that they are inflated to the recommended pressure. Inspect the tread and tire size as well and see if they are the same on both front wheels.