Drag Link Buyer's Guide
- One common cause of stubborn tires and steering wheel play is a faulty drag link. This link is an essential component in your steering linkage that makes moving your wheels possible.
- It is usually found in larger vehicles like trucks and vans with a four-wheel-drive steering system.
- A drag link fails when it is unable to turn your car’s wheels. A faulty drag link can affect your vehicle’s steering properties and drivability.
- Some of the most common signs of a worn drag link are steering wheel play or vibration, steering drifts, and abnormal tire wear.
- A drag link replacement can cost anywhere from around $50 to $500. This range depends on your vehicle’s type, year, make, and model.
It’s important that every single component of your vehicle is in good working order before you get on the road. You should check everything from your engine to your steering system to ensure a safe drive. If you experience difficulties in steering your vehicle or controlling your tires, this could be a sign of a problem within your steering system.
One common cause of stubborn tires and steering wheel play is a faulty drag link. This link is an essential component in your steering linkage that makes moving your wheels possible. When this malfunctions, it not only causes problems with your vehicle’s handling, but it also affects its drivability.
Read on to learn more about drag links, their functions, and when to have them replaced.
What is a drag link?
A drag link is a major component of your steering system. It is usually found in larger vehicles like trucks and vans with a four-wheel-drive steering system. Not every car has a drag link component, as vehicles with a rack and pinion steering system eliminate the need for this part.
The actual design and motion of the drag link varies and depends on the automaker. However, their purpose is the same, to translate movement from the steering wheel into movement for the tire wheels. It primarily links your car’s steering gearbox to the tie rod ends to assist it in steering. Drag links are either solid or adjustable.
What does a drag link do?
The drag link helps control your car’s steering capabilities. It connects to both the pitman arm and a fixed pivot point on either side, while its ends connect to the tie rods. This component transfers the rotating motion from the gearbox to the wheels to steer your car once you turn the steering wheel.
Typically, one end of the drag link is connected to the steering wheel through the steering gearbox and the pitman arm, while the other end connects to the steering linkage through the steering arm. The drag link can also affect your car’s toe in or toe out and should be adjusted when aligning the vehicle’s front end.
Why is a drag link important?
A drag link is important because it is an essential component in your car’s steering system. Without it, you would have a hard time controlling your wheel and steering your vehicle in the direction you’re supposed to go. A faulty drag link can cause unsafe conditions for you and everyone else on the road.
Drag link vs rack and pinion
Vehicles make use of various steering systems. Their steering system depends on their type, make, and model. The most common type of steering system among cars, trucks, and small SUVs is the rack and pinion steering system.
In comparison to a four-link steering system, a rack and pinion has a three-bar linkage. It is an alternate steering mechanism with no use for a drag link as it directly moves a center link. It consists of inner and outer tie-rod ends on each side and steering knuckles or arms. This linkage has a simple design, weighs less, and has precise steering geometry.
Though both steering linkages differ in parts and which vehicle uses them, their primary function remains the same. Both systems ensure you have control over your wheels.
How does a drag link fail?
Keep in mind that the drag link itself does not usually wear out. Instead, the junction points between the drag link and the pitman arm or the tie-rods are the parts that wear out. As the vehicle ages, adjustable drag links can wear out.
A drag link fails when it is unable to turn your car’s wheels. A faulty drag link can affect your vehicle’s steering properties and drivability. An example would be your vehicle wandering while driving down the road. A severely worn one is confused with a soft tire during diagnosis.
What are bad drag link symptoms?
There are many symptoms that could point to a failing drag link. Some of the most common signs of a worn drag link are steering wheel play or vibration, steering drifts, and abnormal tire wear.
Steering wheel play or vibration
A worn drag link can develop plays in any of its linkage points. Once this happens, these plays can be interpreted as a loose steering wheel. Depending on how loose your wheels feel, you might also experience vibration in your steering wheel while your vehicle is in motion.
Another symptom of a faulty drag link is a drifting steer. A worn drag link can cause your vehicle to wander while it is in motion. On its own, a vehicle with a worn drag link can drift left or right while traveling down the road. To maintain control of the vehicle, the driver has to constantly correct his steering.
Steering drifts are especially dangerous, as this could eventually lead to loss of control over your vehicle.
Abnormal tire wear
Abnormal tire wear is one of the most common symptoms of a worn drag link. If the drag link wears out at the ends, this could lead to your tires wearing out unevenly. Your tires could wear both on the outside or the inside of the inside. A faulty drag link can wear your tire easily and places additional stress and wear on the other steering components.
A damaged drag link leads to misaligned wheels. You could also experience significant difficulties in maneuvering your vehicle where you want it to go. To remedy this, consider replacing your busted drag link with a new and improved auto part.
How much is a drag link?
A drag link replacement can cost anywhere from around $50 to $500. This range depends on your vehicle’s type, year, make, and model. Drag link replacement costs are also affected by its location within your car.
Finding the right fit
When buying a drag link, make sure it fits the specification of your vehicle. Get the right drag link for your vehicle by entering its year, make and model into our search engine. You can also filter your search according to your preferred brand, price range, or drag link location. Just click search and browse through our selection of top-quality drag links.
Drag Link Replacement: A Step-by-Step Guide
Is your steering loose and unresponsive? Do you have a hard time controlling your tires using your steering wheel? Or do you feel like you are always in danger because you don't have much control over your vehicle anymore? If you are, you'd better check your system because you might just need to replace your vehicle's current drag link component. You see, this long rod, which is attached to your steering gearbox and idler arm, helps control your car's steering capabilities. If it becomes worn out and damaged, your wheels won't be properly aligned and you'll definitely have a hard time maneuvering your ride to the direction you want to. To fix this glitch in your car, you'd better follow the steps below to take out and replace your busted drag link with a new and improved auto part.
Difficulty Level: Moderate
Things to prepare:
- Jack and jack stands
- Metric wrench set
- Ratchet and socket set
- Needle nose pliers
- Cotter pins
- Wire cutter
- Removing tool for your ball joint and tie rod end
- New drag link
Step 1: Raise and support the front part of your vehicle using the jack and jack stands. Raise it until you have enough working space beneath your ride. After that, remove the cotter pins from your idler and tie rods. Also, don't forget to remove the nuts of the idler, tie rod ends, and pitman arm.
Step 2: Next, remove the tie rods using the tie rod remover tool. Then, get a hammer to pound your tire rods out of your assembly. Use the tie rod remover to take out the idler arm, pitman arm, and drag link.
Step 3: Once all those components have been removed, you can begin installing your new drag link by inserting the pitman arm threads into your drag link. Keep the attachment loose and install the threads of the idler arm to the drag link. Next, use a hammer to very lightly tap the head of your tie rod, which will force it into to the idler arm. Use a wrench to tighten the pitman arm's connecting nut.
Step 4: Get both of your inner tie rods and attach them to the spindles. Secure the connection by tightening the nuts and installing cotter pins.
Step 5: To make this attachment efficient and stress free, grease all the ends of the components to keep them lubricated and efficient.