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All About Tie Rods

Turn, turn, turn

From negotiating gentle curves in the road to turning into your driveway at the end of a long day, you count on your car to go in the proper direction every time you turn the steering wheel. You probably haven’t given much thought to your vehicle’s steering system, but a series of parts come together to allow your car to maneuver.

Although there are various types of steering systems, such as rack and pinion steering and recirculating ball steering, they all share a common component that enables them to do what they are designed to do - the tie rod.

How are tie rods designed?

Made of high-strength steel, a tie rod is a slender cylindrical structure with two sections. Consisting of an inner and outer end, the outer section is called the tie rod end.

How do tie rods work?

Tie rods are crucial to your steering system. Simply put, your car can’t steer without tie rods. Serving as the pivot point between the steering rack, steering arm and steering wheel, tie rods not only help move your wheels when you steer but they make turning possible.

While the rack and pinion system and recirculating ball system each operate differently, both systems use a tie rod to connect the steering rack to the steering arm, which is connected to the steering wheel.

Rack and pinion system and recirculating ball system diagram

How long do tie rods last?

Tie rods can last for several years. In fact, you may never have to replace your tie rods. The conditions you drive in play a large role in the lifespan of tie rods.

What happens if a tie rod fails?

Since tie rods are used every time you steer your vehicle, they are susceptible to damage and wear. Normal wear and tear can cause a break down but also driving hazards like poor road conditions, potholes and accidents can cause failure.

If a tie rod fails, the effects can range from the mild (like premature tire wear) to the extreme (a total loss of control of your vehicle). A failing tie rod can go from bad to worse in a matter of miles. If you experience any of the following symptoms, it is imperative to take your vehicle to your trusted mechanic right away.

number 1

Uneven Tire Wear

number 2

Front end out of alignment

number 3

Vibration or looseness in steering wheel

number 4

Knocking sound when turning at low speeds

Your mechanic will be able to decide if you just need an alignment or have to replace the tie rods. Once the diagnosis has been made, you’ll be back on the road in no time.

The content contained in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be used in lieu of seeking professional advice from a certified technician or mechanic. We encourage you to consult with a certified technician or mechanic if you have specific questions or concerns relating to any of the topics covered herein. Under no circumstances will we be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on any content.