Tie rods are integral components of a vehicle's steering system. They consist of two parts known as the inner end and the outer end. The outer end is composed of tie rod ends, which are connected to the ball joints of the front wheels. Tie rod ends help push and pull the front wheels as the steering wheel is turned so that they can move together. If tie rod ends break or disconnect from the tie rods due to wear and tear or damage, you can lose control of the car and possibly cause an accident. Ensuring these components remain in good working condition is critical for proper handling and performance of the vehicle.
Here are some of the common causes of wear and tear in tie rod ends and the warning signs that indicate you should have them replaced.
Causes of wear in tie rod ends
Tie rod ends don't just go bad because they have reached their expiration date. They go bad due to wear and tear, and the following conditions are responsible for it.
- Driving on poor roads where the vehicle regularly hits extreme potholes.
- Regularly driving up on curved roads.
- Accidents or other situations that may cause impact behind the front car tires.
- Failure to grease the ball joints in older model vehicles, leading to excess friction which could wear the tie rod ends. Note that new model vehicles' ball joints cannot be greased. Instead, they should be replaced if they wear or fail to operate smoothly.
Some of these cases can be avoided by maintaining your vehicle and avoiding driving on poor roads. Safe driving can also prevent any form of impact that could damage the tie rod ends. However, the tie rod ends are bound to wear at some point, and they should be replaced.
Warning signs of faulty tie rods ends
Identifying the signs of worn tie rod ends can save you from causing an accident as a result of lost control of your car. The most common sign that you are likely to identify is if your steering wheel feels unstable as you drive or turn, or if you feel vibrations through it. Also, you may experience a knocking sound coming from the front of the vehicle every time you turn the front wheels.
Inspect the front tires of your vehicle if you notice any of the above signs. If the tires show any signs of uneven wear on the inside and outer edge, you could be having worn tie rod ends. These components should be replaced to allow proper handling and control of the vehicle.
Visit a qualified and experienced mechanic if you suspect that your tie rod ends may be bad and need replacement. Once they are replaced, you should have them checked regularly during a car service to ensure that they are still functioning properly.