Tie Rod End Buyer's Guide
- Tie rods are the small rods attached to the steering knuckle. It is the link between the steering rack and the wheel.
- Parts associated with tie rods include the steering shaft, steering rack, pinion, inner rod, outer rod, jam nut, bearings and ball stud, bushing, bellows, and steering knuckle.
- Faulty tie rods cause a shaky steering wheel, misaligned wheels, and uneven tire wear.
- It costs around $17 to $1,500.
Most cars nowadays share a common steering system known as the rack and pinion. This type of steering mechanism utilizes a circular gear or pinion attached to the end of the steering shaft and a linear gear known as rack. To control the wheel with ease, the system integrates tie rods, which are attached to both ends of the steering rack. The rods help with the wheels movement by pushing and pulling them as the steering wheel turns.
What does a tie rod end look like?
Tie rods are the small rods attached to the steering knuckle. A single tie rod end consists of outer and inner tie rods. The outer rod consists of a head or ball stud with a threaded end that connects to the steering knuckle. Its counterpart, the inner tie rod, serves as the long arm with two threaded ends; one for the jam nut that links it to the outer rod and one for the inner socket assembly of the steering rack. This end of the rod married to the rack is often covered by bellows.
Components associated with tie rod ends
Tie rod ends are simple rods with important function in your car’s steering system. However, these rods need other components to function properly, specifically the steering system assembly. There are multiple parts related to tie rods like the suspension assembly and anti-sway bar, which is a topic for another time. For now, here are some significant parts that are associated to tie rod ends.
The steering shafts is the rod connected to the steering wheel, with a pinion on the other end.
A linear gear that is engaged with the pinion; the ends connect to the driver and passenger side tie rod ends.
The circular gear found at the tip of the steering shaft; rolls on top of the rack to create the left and right motion.
The slim metal rod which has threaded ends that attach to the outer rod and the steering rack.
The bulkier end of a tie rod which houses the ball stud and bearing assembly.
The hardware that glues the outer and inner rod.
Bearings and ball stud
The head of the outer tie rod that is designed primarily for steering movements, while at the same time helps the steering system with bump impacts.
The rubber that covers and protects the ball stud and bearing from possible road dirt that may infiltrate the internal parts.
The plastic, spring-like cover that protects the inner socket assembly, where the inner rod and steering rack connect.
The metal part connecting the wheel to the outer tie rod.
Why do I need to know about tire rod ends?
Being aware of the tie rod end can help in troubleshooting mechanical problems and symptoms of your car, especially when the issue has something to do with steering. Just like any other part, tie rods serve an important role in your car’s overall operation. A failing tie rod would simply mean that your car won’t turn properly, or it could alter the alignment of your wheels.
Tie rod ends can malfunction due to wear and tear caused by metal stress from frequent motion, bumps, and time. Misaligned wheels make your vehicle difficult to control, as the wheel couldn’t meet the optimum angle needed for your car to effectively turn.
What are the signs of a faulty tie rod end?
Like any other failing parts of your car, you shouldn’t be ignoring a damaged tie rod end. Tie rod ends are important since they are responsible for the movement of your wheels. The good news is that you can easily detect a tie rod problem without having to check the actual part. Here are the possible signs of faulty tie rod ends.
Shaky steering wheel
As you might already know, a misaligned wheel causes vibrations on the steering wheel. A vibration is defined by small movements and is minor compared to shaking. If your steering wheel begins to shake, that’s when you should go check on your steering system. Shaky steering wheel could be a sign of worn-out tie rods that’s beginning to loosen. A shaky steering wheel is the first give away that a trip to the mechanic is needed as soon as possible.
Sometimes, you won’t notice shaky steering wheels right away. If your wheels are misaligned and angled in the same direction, your car would steer towards that direction automatically. If you notice this happening, check your wheels. You’re more likely facing a loose set of tie rods that badly need replacements.
Irregular wearing of tire/s
Misalignment increases the friction of the affected wheel by adding more tire surface contact to the road. This could lead to extreme wearing of the tire, which is commonly known as uneven tire wear. Uneven tire wear is irritating to deal with because instead of purchasing a tire set, you’ll find yourself buying a piece ahead of your replacement schedule. Failing to notice uneven tire wear could render to fatal situations like tire explosion.
What are the benefits of replacing worn-out tie rod ends?
There are multiple reasons why you should replace a broken tie rod end, and the benefit ranges from safety to practicality. One obvious advantage of installing a fresh OE replacement tie rod is better handling on corners. Poor cornering can result to oversteering or understeering, which are both risky on populated public roads. Another reason is to save you from unnecessary extra expenses like buying a new tire replacement due to uneven tire wear.
How much is a tie rod end?
Prices for OE replacement tie rod ends vary depending on the quantity or part you’re after. Individual tie rod end pieces, be it outer or inner, are priced around $17 to $820. For better deals, try checking the sets (up to sets of 16), as well as kits. These items come with other components like wheel hubs, hardware, adjusting sleeves, and even drag links. Kits and sets range from $30 to $1,500.