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Symptoms of Bad Tie Rods

Critical Steering Connector


A critical component of your vehicle’s steering system, tie rods connect the steering rack to the steering knuckle. Tie rods not only help move your wheels when you steer but they make turning your vehicle possible. Simply put, without tie rods, steering your vehicle would be impossible.

Because tie rods are used every time you steer your vehicle, they are susceptible to damage and wear. Normal wear and tear can cause a tie rod to fail; driving hazards like potholes and accidents can also cause damage to a tie rod. If a tie rod becomes damaged and fails, the effects can range from mild (premature tire wear) to extreme (loss of vehicle control). Read on to learn the symptoms of a failing tie rod end.

Inner tie rod location being displayed in a vehicles suspension

Uneven Tire Wear
A damaged tie rod can cause uneven or excessive tire wear. Do a visual inspection of your tires; if they display excessive wear on one side but not as much wear on the other side, it may be a sign of a failing tie rod. If the tire wear is even, that is a good indication that the tie rods are working properly. If you are concerned about uneven tire wear, make an appointment with a qualified technician.


Front End Out Of Alignment
Tie rods help you steer your vehicle and ensures that it tracks straight. While many different parts can cause your vehicle to come out of alignment, a worn tie rod can become loose, causing the front end of the vehicle to become misaligned. If your vehicle is handling poorly, it’s time to consult a qualified technician for a proper diagnosis.


Vibration or Looseness in Steering Wheel
Because the tie rods link the steering wheel to the front wheels, steering problems can be a symptom of a loose or damaged tie rod. Common signs include a steering wheel that shakes or vibrates and looseness or excessive play in the steering wheel. The vibration typically becomes worse as you accelerate or turn. Don’t wait for your steering issues to become worse; get your vehicle to a qualified technician as soon as you notice these issues.


Knocking or Clunking Sound
Notice that your vehicle is making new noises? A knocking or clunking sound from the front of the vehicle when turning at low speeds can be a symptom of bad tie rods. As they become loose, tie rods can rattle around at the joints and links, causing the new noises you’re hearing. In addition, if the boot protecting the tie rod joint becomes damaged, dirt and debris can get in and make a grinding sound as you steer. If you’re hearing new sounds from the front of your vehicle, it’s time to check in with a qualified technician.

Consult a Qualified Technician

MOOG Tie Rod

If you experience any of the symptoms outlined above, it is imperative that you make an appointment with a qualified technician right away. Being able to steer correctly is key to the safe operation of your vehicle. A failing tie rod can make it difficult to control your vehicle, which can compromise your safety and the safety of your passengers.

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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.

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