To drive a vehicle on the road, it is essential you have control over the wheels. The wheels should move to the side where the steering wheel is turned. And this is the tie rod end that connects the front wheels to the steering and suspension system of the vehicle and helps the vehicle turn when you are turning the steering wheel. Without tie rods, it’s impossible to drive a vehicle.
Therefore, it is critical your vehicle has functional tie rods. However, the tie rods have a very long lifespan but yet over time, they wear out.
Driving a vehicle with a Bad Tie Rod can take you and your vehicle to a catastrophic situation. This article will make you learn how to identify that your vehicle has a Bad Tie Rod and how to deal with the situation if it doesn’t work properly. You will also know whether to go for repair or replacement.
What is Tie Rod End in Car
As the name says, Tie Rod End is attached at the tip of the tie rod that makes a joint between wheels and the steering wheel and the suspension system which ultimately makes the wheels turn according to the movement of the steering wheel.
There are two tie rods – inner tie rod and outer tie rod. The outer tie rod end has a rubber boot around them to protect them from dirt, dust, and moisture. Over time, this rubber can wear out, and if this happens, you may lose control over the steering wheel.
How Does a Tie Rod End Work
A Tie Rod is a basic yet essential part of the vehicle’s steering. It connects the vehicle’s steering rack to the steering arm. And steering arm is further connected to the wheel. When you turn the steering wheel the pinion gear rolls along with the steering rack. And steering rack that is connected to both front wheels, move the wheels as you move the steering wheel.
The Tie Rod Ends apply force to the steering rack that goes to the steering arm and then move the wheel. The length of the outer tie rod is adjustable that helps in fixing the vehicle’s alignment.
Signs and Symptoms of Bad Tie Rod End
#1. Steering Wheel Vibrates
The Tie Rod Ends keep the components of the suspension tight in their place. When the Tie Rod wears out, it loses its grip over the components attached to it and makes them loose. As a result, it causes vibrations in the steering wheel when the vehicle is in motion. This vibration gets increased as you accelerate the vehicle’s speed.
There are a number of other factors that can cause the steering wheel to vibrate such as misaligned tires, unbalanced tires, and suspension issues. Therefore, it is necessary to get it tested and diagnosed by a professional mechanic to ascertain the real cause of the problem.
#2. Poor Alignment
The Tie Rod is responsible for keeping the vehicle’s front end aligned. When the Tie Rod gets failed or damaged, it becomes loose and can cause the front end of the vehicle to go off the alignment.
You can easily feel it while driving as the vehicle’s steering will move left or right despite pointing it straight.
It will excessively pull to one side if you keep your hands a little loose on the steering. A perfectly aligned vehicle should move to the side where it is directed.
Related: Symptoms of Bad Wheel Alignment
#3. Loose Steering Wheel
A faulty Tie Rod can also make the steering wheel move freely with less force than normal. In such a condition, you may lose control over the steering which could be far dangerous for you. If you feel excess play in the steering wheel, get it checked immediately to overcome any mishap.
#4. Abnormal Sounds
If the rubber boot surrounds the Tie Rod End gets cracked down, it can cause the loss of lubrication which results in a weird metal sound coming out of the front portion of the vehicle. This weird sound could be the indication that the Tie Rod is out of order.
However, there could be other reasons also that are causing the weird sound so to ascertain the issue you must take your vehicle to the mechanic.
Also, Read: Car Makes a Humming Noise When Accelerating
Can You Drive a Car with a Bad Tie Rod
You can drive a car with a Bad Tie Rod but we never recommend it. Driving a car with a faulty Tie Rod could be dangerous for you as you can’t predict when any part will fail or break down. It can happen anytime without any warning.
If the Tie Rod gets failed completely, you will lose control over the steering wheel that can create a fatal situation. Therefore, we highly recommend not driving the vehicle if you notice any sign of the potential failure of the Tie Rod. And get that fixed on an immediate basis.
In any circumstance where the mechanic shop is quite far away from the place you are, the best thing you can do is drive slowly and take the vehicle to the mechanic shop or call someone for towing the vehicle to the mechanic. But don’t try to drive the vehicle at a higher speed.
How Much Does Tie Rod End Replacement Cost
It is not always that you need to replace the Tie Rod, if this is the only rubber boot that has got cracked then go for repair instead of replacement. The repair of the Tie Rod generally costs between $20 and $100. But if the vehicle is designed in a way that there is no provision of repair and only replacement can be done then you need to look into which Tie Rod needs to be replaced – the outer tie Rod or the inner Tie Rod.
Generally, the Tie Rod replacement cost includes the cost of Tie Rod and the labor charge that falls between $100 and $400, in which the part cost is around $20 to $100. The outer Tie Rod tends to get replaced easily as it doesn’t include the shaft alignment.
The labor charge of replacing the outer Tie Rod can be between $70 and $100. And in the case of the Inner Tie Rod, it can cost a little more as the replacement is a bit tricky. The estimated labor cost for inner Tie Rod replacement is around $150 to $300 on average.
If you are a little technically sound, you can do this replacement yourself with the help of appropriate tools. But if you’re not sure, it is better to get it done by an expert.
Apart from these all knowledge bits, by getting your vehicle serviced regularly, you can increase the life of the Tie Rod of your car as, during service, lubricants are applied onto these components.
The oiling and greasing to the joints reduce the friction between them and they become less prone to wear and tear when the car is in motion. But if you notice any alarming sign of Tie Rod failing, you should get it repaired or replaced immediately.