It's common knowledge among drivers that the steering and the suspension systems cannot work smoothly if any of their vital components are damaged. Even if only one steering or suspension component becomes defective, the entire system could be rendered useless.Take the tie rod assembly, for example. A tie rod is a steering component that serves as the connection between the steering knuckles and the center link. With assistance from ball steering gears, the assembly helps the wheels turn, transmitting force from the steering center link to the steering knuckle.The tie rod assembly also comes with inner and outer ends, both of which make the tie rod flexible and easily adjustable. Should any of the assembly's parts become damaged, you can trust Carparts.We can help you get the perfect tie rod assemblies for your vehicle.
• Helps the wheels turn by transferring force from the center link to the steering knuckle
• Maintains critical vehicle alignment settings
• Comes with inner and outer end for easy fitting
Tie Rod Assembly Buyer’s Guide
- A complete tie rod assembly includes your vehicle’s tie rods and all its connecting parts.
- Your vehicle’s inner tie rod end is protected by the steering rack boot while the outer tie rod end is connected by a rubber or plastic boot.
- The main function of a tie rod end is to transfer motion from the steering gear to the steering knuckle, allowing your front wheels to turn when turning your steering wheel.
- Symptoms of a bad tie rod end include steering wheel vibrations, loose steering, poor wheel alignment, and unusual squeaking noises.
- A tie rod assembly replacement can range from $50 to $1000. To ensure that you are getting the right tie rod assembly for your vehicle, enter your correct vehicle details into our search engine.
Your vehicle’s tie rod assembly is essential to ensure the safe operation of your vehicle. The components in this assembly are responsible for connecting your steering gear to the steering knuckle. If you’re starting to experience handling and tire-related problems, a faulty component in the tie rod assembly may be to blame.
In this article, you will learn more about what a tie rod assembly is and when you should have these components replaced.
What is a tie rod assembly?
A complete tie rod assembly includes your vehicle’s tie rods and all its connecting parts. A typical tie rod assembly includes the inner and outer tie rod ends. Both of these two components have ball joints installed. Usually, an inner tie rod end is protected by a steering rack boot while the outer tie rod end is connected by a rubber or plastic boot.
What role does your tie rod assembly play in your vehicle’s steering system? To put it simply, the main function of a tie rod end is to transfer motion from the steering gear to the steering knuckle. This transfer of motion allows the front wheels to turn when you turn your steering wheel. This allows your front wheels to turn into the required direction.
Where are my vehicle’s tie rods located?
Usually, your vehicle is equipped with either a rack-and-pinion or recirculating ball steering mechanism. Older vehicle models, such as large SUVs and pickup trucks usually have recirculating ball mechanisms while a lot of newer models come equipped with rack-and-pinion.
Regardless of what type of steering system your vehicle is using, your tie rod will still function the same. However, the location of your tie rods may differ depending on your drive-train and steering configuration. For example, tie rods in a recirculating-ball steering are usually connected to the steering box through the pitman arm. The specifications may be different for rack-and-pinion. A vehicle may have two to four tie rods depending on its configuration.
To know more about what type of steering mechanism your vehicle is using, you may consult your vehicle manual or have a talk with your trusted mechanic.
What are the symptoms of a bad tie rod or tie rod assembly?
Since your tie rod assembly is part of your steering system, any issues involving it can significantly compromise you and your passengers’ safety while on the road. To prevent this from happening, it is important to watch for symptoms that can indicate that one of your tie rod components is going bad.
Steering Wheel or Vehicle Vibration
A malfunctioning tie rod end will often result in changes in steering wheel behaviour. Most often, these symptoms can be noticed when operating your steering wheel. A loose tie rod may cause your vehicle to vibrate or your steering wheel to get shaky. This symptom is most noticeable when cornering or while you’re picking up your speed.
A loose tie rod end may also cause you to experience loose steering. If you notice little response from your wheels while rotating the steering wheel, chances are one of your tire rod ends is loose.
Once you notice this symptom, have your vehicle checked by a trusted mechanic. Even if it is not your tire rods that are causing the problem, there is a big chance another component of your suspension system is not working as it should.
Poor Wheel Alignment
Another symptom related to a faulty tie rod assembly is poor wheel alignment. When one of your tie rod ends goes bad, your wheels will not be able to maintain its position. This symptom, if not addressed, may lead to other worsening issues such as abnormal tire wear and abnormal side pull.
If the boots in your tie rod ends are damaged, the lubricants in the ball studs and bearings may leak. Lack of lubricant will cause these bearings to grind. This may result in unusual squeaking noises that are noticeable when making turns.
It is important to note that these symptoms are just general guidelines. To confirm that your tie rods are faulty, you may do a visual inspection or bring your vehicle to a trusted mechanic to further diagnose the problem.
What causes a tie rod to go bad?
Now that you know the symptoms of a bad tie rod assembly, you may wonder what makes a tie rod go bad. Most tire rods naturally wear out over time. If you own a vehicle that is equipped with tie rod ends that have grease fittings, failure to regularly maintain and grease them may damage your tie rods. Grease leaks may also cause serious damages to your tie rod assembly.
A loose tie rod end is a safety concern and any symptom related to it should not be taken for granted. In worse cases, a loose tie rod will cause your vehicle to lose steering control. To prevent this from happening, make sure to have your vehicle inspected by your trusted mechanic once you start to notice symptoms of a bad tie rod end.
How much does a tie rod assembly cost?
A complete tie rod assembly replacement can range from $50 to $1000. Prices are dependent on what is included in the assembly and the brand you choose. Although tie rods and its components can be sold individually, they are usually sold in sets or kits. When buying one, make sure to check the product specification to know what is included in the set or the kit you are purchasing.
Finding the right fit
To ensure that you are getting the right tie rod assembly for your vehicle, enter your vehicle’s correct year, make, and model into our built-in search console. You may also filter your choices according to the brand and price range you prefer.
When buying a tie rod assembly, make sure to check the quality of the parts included as well as its value for money. In CarParts.com, you can find many high-quality tie rod assemblies at an equally reasonable price. Browse our wide selection and you will surely find one that is compatible with your vehicle.
A Simple Guide to Tie Rod Assembly Installation
Tie rods are an integral part of your vehicle's steering system, joining the front steering spindles and the front steering link. When your steering wheel becomes shaky and your car starts to vibrate and wander, your tie rod must be going bad. Installing a one is usually the best course of action in such cases and this guide will teach you how to do so. The process is a complex one, requiring you to disassemble a number of parts.
Required skill level: Intermediate
Needed tools and materials
- Tie rod assembly
- Hydraulic jack
- Jack stands
- Socket set
- Cotter pins
- Pickle fork
Preparing the vehicle
Place your car in a cool shady area. This is important if you plan to work on your car for an extensive period of time. Lift up the front of the vehicle with the hydraulic jack before supporting it with jack stands. Remove both front wheels to gain access to the tie rod assembly inside.
Removing the old tie rod assembly
Locate the outer tie rod end, which is connect to the spindle, and remove the cotter pin followed by the holding nut. After that, locate the inner tie rod end, which is connected to the steering link, and remove its cotter pin as well. Insert the pickle forth where the outer tie rod end and the spindle meet. Use a mallet to hit the pickle fork and separate the tie rod end from the spindle. Use the pickle fork and the mallet again for the inner tie rod end and the steering link. Remove the tie rods.
Installing the new tie rod
Attach the tie rod sleeves to the appropriate tie rod ends. Install the tie rod assembly by attaching the tie rod ends to the spindle and steering link. Secure the assembly by screwing in the holding nut before tightening the adjusting sleeve. Install new cotter pins into the appropriate location.
Repeat the process on the other side of the vehicle. When you're done installing the tie rod assemble, put the front wheels back on before lowering the vehicle.
What to Consider When Buying a Tie Rod Assembly
Equipping your ride with a high-quality tie rod assembly ensures smoother steering performance. But with so many options out there, figuring out the good ones from the bad can be tricky. To help you find the best tie rod assembly for your vehicle, consider these factors:
Location (passenger or driver side, Pitman to passenger, or knuckle to knuckle)
A tie rod assembly, which consists of a tie rod and its connecting parts, can be found in different areas of the steering system. This is because it serves as a link between moving parts such as the steering components found on the passenger and driver sides, the steering knuckles, and the Pitman arm. When shopping for a tie rod assembly, figure out its location since a tie rod set for the passenger side has different specs when compared to one that connects the knuckles.
Basically, a greasable assembly has to be lubricated whenever you do an oil change, while a non-greasable set doesn't need frequent lubrication. If you want a low-maintenance assembly, a non-greasable type is the perfect choice.
Aluminum - Aluminum tie rod parts may not be as durable as their steel counterparts, but these components are more tensile. This means they have a better ability of going back to their original shape after being exposed to pressure.
Steel - As for a steel tie rod assembly, it's quite durable and provides longer-lasting performance compared to an aluminum-based set. However, its parts are prone to corrosion and are less flexible.
Carbon fiber - Carbon fiber resists tension better than steel, but not so much when it comes to compression. A carbon-fiber made tie rod assembly is also very lightweight, making it perfect for those who are after speed.
Other factors to consider
You also need to factor in the application for the tie rod assembly. Will you be using it on a regular vehicle, a street car, or a racing car? For heavy-duty driving needs, we suggest that you choose a steel assembly since it's durable and affordable. Product fit is also an important factor; for easier installation, go for an OE assembly since this is designed to fit your perfectly match your car's specs. As for prices, a complete tie rod assembly can cost anywhere between $40+ and $100+, giving you plenty of budget-friendly options. To get the more value for your money, always go for an assembly that's from a reliable manufacturer.
How to Install a Tie Rod Assembly
A worn-out tie rod assembly can cause poor steering control and uneven tire wear. When left unchecked, it could put extra pressure on other steering components, leading to more car trouble. To prevent the situation from getting worse, replace it immediately. Don't know how? Then check out the steps below:
Difficulty level: Moderate
- Hydraulic jack
- Jack stands
- Lug wrench
- Cotter pins
- Pickle fork
Step 1: Jack up your car using a hydraulic jack and support each side with a jack stand.
Step 2: Remove the front wheels by unbolting the lug nuts.
Step 3: Loosen the outer tie rod end by sliding off the cotter pin from the holding nut. Remove the holding nut by using the right-sized wrench and turning it counterclockwise.
Step 4: Separate the inner tie rod end from the center link by driving the pickle fork into the joint.
Step 5: Set aside the outer and inner tie rod ends. Take note of which bolt was removed from where for easier reinstallation.
Set 6: Thread the new tie rod assembly into the sleeve by following the original layout. Be careful not to puncture the dust boot and sleeve. Don't let the tie rod ends rotate their threads to retain original adjustment.
Step 7: Keep the inner tie rod end in place by attaching a locking ring.
Step 8: Bolt back the outer tie rod end, making sure that the bolt is properly tightened.
Step 9: Insert the new cotter pins in place, bending them properly to ensure a secure fit and to prevent vibration while the car is moving.
Step 10: Apply grease onto the entire tie rod assembly. Wipe off excess grease and install the wheels back in place, taking note of which bolt goes where.
Step 11: Repeat the whole process on the other side of the car. Once the tie rods are installed, lower the jack, and test drive the car to check the alignment. If there's something wrong with the angle of the steering wheel, have it professionally corrected as soon as possible.
If you have an older vehicle, you might need to hammer the pickle fork several times to loosen the tie rod end. For easier reinstallation, putting marks or labels on which bolt goes where helps. Another trick is to accurately measure the distance spanned by the entire tie rod assembly.