How to Adjust Tie Rods – A Step by Step Guide

Tie rods are vital components in a car’s steering system. They help to engage the wheels in order to perform proper turning.

However, your car’s wheel can bend inward or outward over time due to bad road conditions, excessive load on the car’s wheel bearing and suspension ball joint, etc.

Therefore, understanding how to adjust tie rods will help you avert the dangers of misaligned wheels. The process can be pretty easy if you follow the step-by-step process in the following section of this article.

How to Adjust Tie Rods and Avoid Wheel Misalignment

The step-by-step process below will help you adjust your car’s tie rods in order to enable you to avert the dangers of having a wheel misalignment problem.

what do tie rods adjust

Step 1: Get the necessary tools.

Firstly, it is important to get the tie rod adjustment tool you need ready before commencing the process. Some of the tools include a piece of rope, a measurement tape, a wrench, a jack, and a pair of jack stands.

Step 2: Jack the car up

Once you’re sure that you have the complete tools needed for this job, proceed to jack the car and hold it up with the pair of jack stands. This will give you so much space to perform the task.

Step 3: Loosen the locking nut

Once the car is up, get underneath the front close to either of the two tires where you intend to start the process.

Then, locate and loosen the locking nut on the inner tie rod end with an adjustable wrench to make it easy. After that, do the same on the other wheel, and ensure that both locking nuts can move freely.

Step 4: Set the steering wheel in the center position

Now, get into the car and straighten the steering wheel. Ensure to turn it a couple of times towards the left and right until you get a perfect center position.

Step 5: Set a measurement standard with a rope

Get two pieces of rope and 4 standing objects on which you can tie the ropes. Then, tie the two ends of one of the ropes to two of the objects and set them a little after each tire. Do this on the right and left sides of the vehicle. Then, use a measuring tape to confirm the distance between the wheel and the trailing edges of the tire.

Step 6: Turn the long adjusting sleeve

Now is the time to adjust the wheel properly. So, turn the adjusting sleeve clockwise with the wrench to correct the wheel position to align. Ensure to tighten the locking nut simultaneously as you adjust the sleeve.

After a little adjustment, get out from underneath the vehicle and measure the tire position again. If the tire position doesn’t align, go back under the vehicle and turn the adjustment sleeve again until it finally aligns.

Do you mind checking out this video for an excellent visual step-by-step guide on how to adjust your car’s tie rods? If you’re wondering how to adjust tie rods in ATV, the guidelines above are also useful.

How do you adjust the inner and outer tie rod ends?

Inner or outer tie rod adjustment is pretty straightforward when you follow the procedure. However, the process will most likely be easier for a DIYer than a newbie who’s trying to find a way out of this kind of situation.

Nevertheless, be sure to follow the procedure below to adjust your car’s inner and outer tie rods:

  • Slightly loosen your car’s front tires.
  • Raise the car’s front end with a strong floor jack.
  • Remove the car’s wheels.
  • Identify the tie rod end (a shaft that goes through the steering knuckle with a bottom castle nut and a round top).
  • Identify the “inner tie rod end” (near the centerline underneath the car).
  • Loosen the pinch nut that holds the outer tie rod with a wrench.
  • Push the pinch nut up in order to reach the tie rod end.
  • Take off the cotter pin holding the castle nut with needle-nose pliers.
  • Remove the castle nut that holds the outer tie rod and the steering knuckle with an appropriately sized ratchet.
  • Pry off the “outer tie rod end from” the steering knuckle with a ball joint separator of the tie rod puller.
  • Take off the “outer tie rod end” from the “inner tie rod end.”
  • Get the boot off the “inner tie rod end.”
  • Remove the “inner tie rod end.”

Once you remove the outer and inner tie rods, you can go ahead with the adjustment or replacement of the outer or inner tie rods, as the case may be.


do tie rods adjust camber

Q: How many turns on a tie rod?

The total turns on a tie rod are expected to be around 0.083″. It is vital to stick to professional recommendations. This will help you avert unnecessary occurrences. The tie rods are critical components in a car that helps to move the wheels when the driver steers.

The tie rods also help to enable turning the car around. When this component malfunctions, it will alter the proper functioning of the vehicle’s steering and hinder easy movement.

Q: Which way do you turn toe rods?

Suppose you’re contemplating which way to turn the tie rod for toe-in, ensure to turn the toe rods counterclockwise to enable you to loosen them. Turning them the other way round will eventually tighten the components.

So, you must follow this recommendation to do a perfect job in case you need to loosen your vehicle’s toe rods.

However, it is essential to note the number of times you turn the toe counterclockwise. This will help you know how much you need to turn the components after a replacement of the part.

Q: Do you need an alignment after replacing tie rod ends?

Of course, you need an alignment after replacing your vehicle’s tie rod ends. The tie rods are responsible for controlling the steering angle; meanwhile, the clamp that connects the outer and inner tie rods helps to adjust the steering angle.

Therefore, once you replace your vehicle’s tie rods, it is necessary to perform an alignment to help reset the steering and suspension back in shape within specifications. This will help the components perform optimally after the replacement.

Q: Should both tie rods be the same length?

Definitely! It is vital to ensure that both tie rods are the same length after making a toe adjustment. This is vital to the appropriate functioning of the steering so that it doesn’t steer when the suspension goes up and down.

Unequal tie rod length can also lead to suspension damage, resulting in a bent steering knuckle or arm. Of course, any malfunction around the tie rods, suspension, or steering area is risky and can lead to accidents. Therefore, it is important to keep this point in mind for safety.

Q: Can tie rods be adjusted?

A vehicle’s tie rods can be adjusted, provided you do it right without any glitches. The tie rods are vital pivotal components that link the steering system, as well as the steering wheel and arm. Any slight malfunction of these components will alter your vehicle’s steering ability.

Meanwhile, if your vehicle’s tires are bent inward or outward from its compartment, you can adjust the tie rod lengths and perform an alignment to fix the problem. However, the tie rods on both sides must have equal length to maintain optimum operations.

Q: Do tie rods affect alignment?

Of course, tie rods affect alignment. Malfunctioning tie rods will automatically alter a vehicle’s alignment, causing it to drift or pull to the left or right. This can in turn affect the vehicle’s tires, making them wear out before reaching their lifespan.

So, if you notice that your car’s tie rods are faulty, ensure to either adjust or replace them as soon as possible.

Leaving these components faulty while driving can be risky. It can result in further damage to the car or an accident. If you’re asking, “Do tie rods adjust camber?” Of course, the operations will eventually impact the wheel alignment and camber simultaneously.

how many turns on a tie rod

Final Words

Every bit of information you need about how to adjust tie rods has been unveiled in this article. And the step-by-step process will be much easier for DIYers who are used to fixing minor faults in their vehicle.

Nevertheless, if you’re experiencing symptoms of wheel misalignment like noisy steering, squealing tires, inconsistent tire wear, a car pulling towards the left or right, etc., check out your car’s tie rods and adjust them properly.

Osuagwu Solomon

Osuagwu Solomon is a certified mechanic with over a decade of experience in the mechanic garage, and he has over five years of experience in the writing industry. He started writing automotive articles to share his garage experience with car enthusiasts and armature mechanics. If he is not in the garage fixing challenging mechanical problems, he is writing automotive repair guides, buyer’s guides, and car and tools comparisons.

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