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Summary
  • Drag links are steel shafts that send mechanical movement from the pitman arm to the tie rod end.
  • Heavy-duty vehicles like semi-trucks, SUVs, and vans usually feature drag links.
  • A faulty drag link displays symptoms like poor handling, misaligned wheels, excessive vibrations, and uneven or increased tire wear.
  • A replacement drag link can cost around $10 to $470.

What Is a Drag Link?

Drag links are a crucial component of a vehicle’s steering linkage. What does a drag link do? Drag links are steel shafts that transfer mechanical movement from the pitman arm to the tie rod end, which is connected to the front wheels. 

Drag links are configured in various different ways.

drag link diagram
Drag link diagram | Image Source: Richard McCuistian.

Lighter vehicles are equipped with rack-and-pinion steering systems that eliminate the need for a drag link. However, drag links on semi trucks are necessary because a rack wouldn’t be strong enough to transfer the lateral forces needed to turn the heavier wheels found in trucks. This is why drag links are typically only found in heavy-duty vehicles, such as semi-trucks, SUVs, and vans. Drag links are also sometimes called the center link, relay rod, or connecting link.

What Are the Symptoms of a Faulty Drag Link? 

Since the drag link is one of the components responsible for steering, your vehicle can show these symptoms if it has faulty drag links:

Poor Handling

A vehicle has good handling when it’s stable while turning on a corner or braking. Since the drag link is a component that links the steering wheel to the front wheels, a faulty drag link might cause this connection to loosen. The connection between the wheels and the steering wheel needs to be rigid, or else steering the vehicle can feel unstable. When a vehicle is traveling at high speeds or turning a corner, every steering input is important. If the driver’s inputs aren’t directly reflected on the wheel, then the vehicle will feel unstable.

Misaligned Wheels/Vehicle Pulling to One Side 

A bad drag link can also misalign your vehicle’s wheels, which can cause the vehicle’s steering to wander. You might notice your vehicle turn slightly when the steering wheel is straight. You’ll have to pay attention to your vehicle to correct its vehicle’s steering. This can be a safety issue because there are scenarios when precise steering is necessary, such as when you’re avoiding an obstacle on the road.

Excessive Vibrations

Your car’s wheels, chassis, and steering wheel can vibrate as a result of a failing drag link. Driving at high speeds might also cause the entire vehicle to shudder.

Uneven or Increased Tire Wear

The drag link connects to both tie rods of the two front wheels, which means  it also controls the steering angle of each of these wheels. If a drag link is faulty, then one tire might not be pointing in the same direction as the other, making the wheel misaligned. Tire wear is partly determined by how much weight the tire is carrying and the amount of lateral force the tire experiences. If a tire isn’t correctly aligned, then it will drag itself on the road, resulting in uneven and increased tire wear. 

How Much Does A Replacement Drag Link Cost? 

A replacement drag link can cost around $10 to $470. This wide price range can be due to several factors, such as the part’s brand, size, design, your vehicle’s model, and whether the part is sold individually or as a set.

Where to Get a Drag Link for Your Vehicle

A bad drag link can cause a lot of issues like poor handling and excessive vibrations. When it’s time to shop for a replacement drag link for your vehicle, look no further than CarParts.com.

With just a few clicks, you can find compatible drag links for your vehicle. Simply enter your ride’s exact details into our vehicle selector to check for fitment.

Shopping online doesn’t mean you’re sacrificing durability and performance. We only source products from today’s top parts manufacturers to make sure that we’re giving you the best value for your money.

Aside from competitive pricing, we accept 60-day returns and offer a lifetime replacement guarantee for qualified purchases.

Don’t let a bad drag link stop you from making more memories with your vehicle. Take a look at our selection now and order today!

About The Authors
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The CarParts.com Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by CarParts.com's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Reviewed By Technical Reviewer at CarParts.com

Richard McCuistian has worked for nearly 50 years in the automotive field as a professional technician, an instructor, and a freelance automotive writer for Motor Age, ACtion magazine, Power Stroke Registry, and others. Richard is ASE certified for more than 30 years in 10 categories, including L1 Advanced Engine Performance and Light Vehicle Diesel.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

File Under : Suspension , DIY Tagged With :
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