4 Symptoms of Bad Tie Rod Ends

Have you ever noticed that annoying vibration when seated in a vehicle as it accelerates? Well, that could be due to a bad tie rod end. Reduced ability to steer, squeaky sounds from quick turns, and misaligned front ends are symptoms of bad tie rod ends.

Many car owners know little or nothing about the tie rod end, but it is still one of a vehicle’s crucial components. This part of the car works well for safe driving operations, acting as a vital link of the knuckle to the steering gear.

You should know that a tie rod comes constructed with an inner and outer end. If a single tie run end fails, the vehicle gets damaged and may seem dangerous for drivers. Hence, you need to keep watching for common signs that your car tie rod end is terrible and take corrective actions.

4 Major Symptoms of Bad Tie Rod Ends

All cars have tie rod ends, irrespective of their types and they come attached to the wheel housing. While driving, you don’t expect your wheel to keep away from the straight movement unless, of course, you turn the car’s steering wheel.

These actions take place smoothly with the help of the car suspension system. However, these components of the suspension system may soon start wearing out due to constant use. Bumpy roads also play a significant role in making the suspension system wear out faster.

Kindly note that the bushing is the main part of the tie rod end that wears. Still, a complete replacement of the tie rod end is recommendable since the suspension system failure could result from metal fatigue.

If your car’s tie rod end is faulty, then you’d notice the tie rod noise while driving. Can bad tie rods cause wobble? Yes, they do, and you’d see them more as the car accelerates. With that in mind, the following are a few signs of a bad tie rod or ball joint.

symptoms of bad inner tie rod

Excessive Tire Wear

When you start noticing your tire with excessive and uneven wear, it could be due to driving with a bad tie rod. You can quickly tell if your car tires are wearing out unevenly with a complete visual inspection. With the suspension system working fine, the car’s weight is spread evenly across the four tires.

In essence, the spread of this weight can make your tire last longer and remain pretty efficient. But, as the suspension system starts wearing, the alignment suffers and causes the tire to wear unevenly. Hence, you may need to start budgeting for new tires, after noticing the uneven tire wear patterns. It would help if you fix the tie rod ends sooner.

Loose Steering Wheels

The tie rod works well in ensuring the car’s suspension remains solid, and with some wear, it starts feeling loose. You find it bouncing even at the slightest acceleration, causing the steering wheel to vibrate.

A faulty tie rod would start vibrating from a speed as low as 20 mph and increase with the car’s acceleration. Although this is one of the bad inner tie rod symptoms, it can also occur when the wheel or tire falls out of balance. Nevertheless, you should get the car checked by a mechanic.

Poor Front End Alignment

Cars come with the tie rod constructed to help keep their front end solid. Kindly note that the vehicle’s alignment works with other crucial factors such as the wheels and tires, struts, and stabilizer bars.

However, you would find the front end of your car falling out of alignment when the tie rod wears out. It often gets loose, and you would notice it more when driving straight. The vehicle would swerve in such a situation to the left or right.

Do you find your small vehicle, SUV, or truck “pulling” in a direction? The tie rod end may be loose or worn out. Hence, it is recommendable to contact an expert to check and work on a suitable replacement.

Squealing Sounds at each Turn

It really gets annoying when you have to deal with the bad tie rod sound from your vehicle at each turn. That shrieking sound could be a sign that your tie rod end is wearing out and would be needing a replacement.

However, a squeaking sound from your vehicle could be a sign of other issues. Some other problems that cause the car to get noisy at each turn are the ball joint having an insufficient lubrication or “lower” power steering fluid.

Inner vs. Outer Tie Rod Ends

You would often find vehicles with the rack and pinion type of steering system having inner and outer tie rod ends. Both are crucial components that get the steering knuckle connected to the car’s steering rack.

Nevertheless, they hold some features that differentiate them, and here’s what you should know:

  • The Outer Tie Rod: The tie rod comes with a ball joint that remains at angles of 90 degrees. This ball joint gets attached to the strut assembly or steering knuckle. Kindly note that this part of the tie rod appears farther from the system’s centerline of your car. Simply put, it is the last turn point that works after the significant role of the inner tie rod.
  • The Inner Tie Rod: You should know that the inner tie rod attaches to the steering rack. Also, you would find this part situated closely to the centerline of your car. The inner tie rod’s work lets the force resulting from the steering rack get to the outer rod end.

How to Tell if Your Tie Rod is Bad YouTube

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Can you drive with a bad tie rod?

Driving with a bad tie rod may seem possible but very risky. It may work pretty well at the starting point, where the wear is not much. Nevertheless, the worst scenario can cause the car to lose its capability to steer.

A total failure of the suspension system leaves the wheel breaking away from the steering assembly. When you start noticing a bad tie rod’s common signs, you should consider a replacement soon. Some common symptoms are loose steering wheels and excessive and uneven tire wear.

Q: How can I conclude that my car has a bad tie rod or wheel bearing?

Various signs tell you that your car’s tie rod end is in bad shape. With these symptoms, you can quickly fix that problem before it gets too late. Some symptoms of bad ball joints include the car wheels feeling loose, vibrations, clunky noises, and poor front-end alignment.

Suppose your steering becomes unresponsive or the car’s tire wears out unevenly, check your car’s tie rod. You should know that the load’s weight gets shared unevenly across the tires with the tie rod end in bad shape. So, you would find some tires wearing faster than the others.

Q: How much does a tie rod replacement cost?

When you decide to replace your vehicle’s tie rod, the cost is among the essential factors to consider. If you are keen on planning a budget, you will find most tie rods in the market between the price ranges of $40 to $120.

Kindly note that the inner tie rods are more costly when compared to the outer tie rods. Nevertheless, some cars have their inner and outer tie rods sold as a single assembly. Again, you should consider the labor cost; it ranges from $45 to $85.

Q: Does a bad tie rod end cause noise?

Yes, you would notice bad tie rod noise at each turn you take with the vehicle. It is one of the most familiar signs you would see when your car’s tie rod is in bad shape. The squeaking, high-pitched sound signifies that the rubber boot of the tie rod end is cracked.

This situation causes a loss of lubrication at the joint. At first, it may be a simple vibration, which later comes with some rattling and clunking sounds. Such sound becomes pronounced when you turn your car while driving at low speeds.

Q: What sound does a bad inner tie rod release?

Both parts of the tie rod work in harmony to ensure you enjoy a smooth ride, as they help with the car’s maneuvering. Many folks find it pretty challenging to figure out how to tell which tie rod is bad. However, a malfunctioning inner rod often makes the steering wheel feel loose, and you would hear squeaky sounds.

When you check the point where you have the inner tie rod, you will find the grease coming out if the tie rod is in bad shape. Simply put, the boot would be torn, and it lets out all the lubrication. With that, you can tell for sure that the inner tie rod needs replacement.

Final Words

The car suspension system ensures that vehicles drive straight unless there is a need to turn their wheels. It provides a smooth ride and keeps the car in good alignment. But, as the vehicle keeps running, they soon start wearing out, much more when you keep driving across bumpy terrains.

It may appear very dangerous if you don’t replace the bad tie rod. Thus, it would be best to notice the wear on time and seek an expert’s assistance for this replacement. You can read through this piece, as it holds some common symptoms of bad tie rod ends.

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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