A functional tie rod makes it possible for your car to move smoothly. Almost all cars typically have two tie rods located near the front tires.
With the help of a tie rod, a driver can steer their car properly while navigating the streets. If your tie rod is in good shape, then you can enjoy a smooth ride, assuming there are no other mechanical issues.
The condition of a car’s tie rod fully depends on several factors, including how long they have been in use and the condition of the road you drive on often. It would be worthwhile to inspect the underneath part of your car once in a while to check the tie rod’s condition. But if one or both of the tie rods are bad, you might encounter issues steering the wheel.
How Often Should Tie Rods Be Replaced?
As mentioned before, a tie rod’s life span depends on how much you use the car and for what purpose. Whenever you use your steering wheel, your steering tie rod is working.
They are the parts of a car prone to wear and tear. Using cars roughly, like constantly driving through bumps and potholes, can cause wear and tear over time, and the need to change the tie rods frequently.
Make it a habit to check the tie rods after every 15,000 miles, or have a mechanic do the checks for you. Moreover, if you take your car for regular maintenance, the tie rods will last longer.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Bad Tie Rod?
The tie rod is the link holding the wheel and steering wheel. This means if your tie rod fails due to severe wear and tear, you may be in grave danger while driving that car. But how will you know that it’s time to replace the tie rods?
You should change the tie rods if the following happens:
- Unstable Steering Wheel:
One way to check for a bad tie rod is by observing the function of your steering wheel. If the tie rod is bad, you may notice that your steering wheel starts vibrating too much. If that happens, you need to put in extra work to steer the car to avoid a crash.
- A Knocking Sound:
A knocking, clunking, rattling, or any weird sound can be the sign of a bad tie rod. This may be due to the worn-out ball and socket joints or lack of lubrication. In either case, the tie rods become loose, which causes them to make those sounds.
- A Misaligned Front End:
Another symptom that might tell you that you have a bad tie rod is misalignment on the front-end tires when your steering is centered. A mechanic will diagnose and fix this problem and replace the tie rod.
- Uneven Tire Threads Due to Wear:
Another symptom of a bad tie rod is uneven wearing out of tires. You will have to inspect your car tires for this one. Usually,the car’s weight is spread evenly across all four tires. If the wear on both sides of your tires is uneven, this is a clear indication of a loose tie rod.
- A Squealing Sound:
Another sound that you may hear from your car is a squealing sound. Such annoying sounds mean something bad is happening in the wheel system. In this case, the sound is due to metal-to-metal contact whenever you turn your car around a corner. You hear the loud sound due to a lack of lubrication which causes a crack in the rubber booth of a tie rod.
Get To Know Better: Why Does My Steering Wheel Shaking & Making Noise?
What Causes Tie Rod Damage
While tie rods have a long life span, some conditions can damage them quickly. The leading causes of wear and tear are when you use your car roughly daily and fail to take it for regular checks. Road hazards such as bumpy roads with potholes can also decrease the tie rod’s life span.
Another reason that can damage them is the lack of lubrication. Suppose, for some reason, the lubrication leaks out, which can cause the joint socket to become loose or bind up, making it unsafe to drive the car.
There are two tie rods per car on the front side. Suppose one tie rod damages, this causes uneven weight on all four tires, and subsequently, the other tie rod may become damaged.
Are Tie Rods Expensive To Replace?
Tie rods are a part of the suspension or steering system. The cost of replacing a tie rod depends on your vehicle’s model. Another factor determining the price is which part of the tie rod you want to be replaced. The outer tie rods are more expensive than the inner ones. The tie rods which control the steering wheel are generally not that expensive. In contrast, the inner tie rod is connected to the pinion steering assembly, and the rack costs more.
Tie rods last long if used right. Certain conditions like rough driving or lack of servicing can decrease their life span. Your tie rods should last for up to eight years under normal circumstances. But, moisture, bad roads, and poor lubrication lower their lifespan.
You would need to look for certain things to know whether it’s finally time to buy a new pair of tie rods.
A squealing sound when you turn corners, a knocking sound when you drive, misalignment when the car wheel is centered, or uneven tire wears are all symptoms of a bad tie rod. We recommend getting your tie rods serviced and checked out during your regular car maintenance.