What is a tie rod on a car, and how can you tell if it’s broken? A vehicle’s steering and suspension systems help provide a safe and comfortable ride. Multiple parts are responsible for a car’s steering and suspension, with tie rods being one of the most neglected pieces.
What is a tie rod?
Before getting into the details of answering the question, “What is a tie rod on a car?” it’s best to cover the basics, including the part’s components.
A tie rod connects the steering gear to the steering knuckles on each front wheel. It is composed of an outer tie rod and an inner tie rod with an adjusting sleeve in the middle. The outer tie rod is often referred to as the tie rod end if your vehicle uses a rack and pinion steering gear.
When you turn the steering wheel, the movement is transferred through various steering components until the tie rod ends push or pull the wheels to make the vehicle turn. Therefore, driving with a bad tie rod can impact the steering of your vehicle and pose a danger to everyone on the roadway.
So, while asking yourself, “Can I drive with a bad tie rod?” is a fair question, the better question to ask is, “How do I know if my tie rod ends need to be replaced?”
What are the symptoms of a bad tie rod?
Over time, tie rod ends begin to wear down and will eventually fail. The most common cause of tie rod wear is age and corrosion due to moisture penetrating the rubber boot. If you notice cracks in the rubber surrounding your tie rod, it should be replaced as a preventative measure.
Driving with a bad tie rod is a serious issue; loss of steering can easily cause a serious accident. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the symptoms your tie rod is failing.
Common symptoms of a failing tie rod include:
- Uneven tire wear
- Squeaking noise coming from the front end of your car when turning
- Looseness in the steering
Problems with tie rod ends are more common in heavier cars and SUVs due to those vehicle’s greater load. If you are one of the many Texans who drive a big vehicle, let an ASE Certified mechanic in Sugarland od Stafford inspect your tie rods for wear and replace them if needed.
Note: If you have your tie rod ends replaced, you will also need a “Front End Alignment” to put your car’s wheels back into the correct position.
Tie rod inspection test
After you’ve answered, “What is a tie rod on a car, and what are the signs it’s failing?” the next step for the more industrious car owner is often to inspect your tie rods at home — either as part of general maintenance or as a part of your road trip car checklist.
If you have experience and the right equipment on hand, please refer to the following guide for how to inspect your tie rods ends. If you would rather stay out from underneath your car or simply don’t have the time to perform an adequate tie rod inspection, bring your car to a trusted mechanic at Colony One Auto Center.
Step 1: Jack up your vehicle
On a level surface, lift the vehicle using a jack, and place a jack stand under a secure part of the vehicle’s frame for safety.
Step 2: Check wheels for horizontal movement
Grab the tire at the 9 and 3 o’clock positions and try to move the wheel left and right. Use force to try and shake the tire. There should be no looseness if your tie rod ends are functioning properly.
Step 3: Visually inspect your tie rod
The tie rod is located directly behind the brake rotor if your vehicle has rack and pinion steering. With conventional steering, there are two additional inner tie rod. Check for any cracks in the boot or looseness in the tie rod while trying to move it by hand.
If you notice any play in the wheel while wiggling it or if a visual inspection shows cracks in the rubber boot, then take your car or truck to a trusted mechanic shop such as Colony One Auto Center for a steering and suspension inspection.
Where should I take my car to replace my tie rod?
Whether you want to ask us, “What is a tie rod on a car,” are in need of a Texas car inspection, or are on the lookout for a trustworthy service warranty, reach out to Colony One Auto Repair of Sugar Land and Stafford.
Our staff has over a century of collective experience. We put our knowledge to work for you the moment you walk through our door and will explain what is going on with your vehicle clearly and concisely.
Call us at 281-612-7345 or contact us online today for top-quality car repairs in Sugarland and Stafford.
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