Tie rods are crucial components of your vehicle’s steering and suspension system. They play an essential role in smoothly translating the movements of your steering wheel to your vehicle’s wheels. Given their significance, a faulty tie rod can result in severe consequences. This article will discuss tie rods, how they go bad, tie rod replacement, its cost, and top-quality tie rod brands.
What Are Tie Rods?
Tie rods are slender structural rods that serve as a link in vehicles between the steering knuckles and the center link. They transfer the force you apply to the steering wheel, causing the front wheels to turn. Essentially, they enable the synchronization of the steering wheel and the front tires, facilitating the car’s movement in the desired direction.
How Do Tie Rods Go Bad?
Tie rods are robust and designed to withstand a significant amount of stress, but they are not immune to wear and tear. Various factors can contribute to the degradation of tie rods over time, including:
- Normal Wear and Tear: Over time, tie rods can naturally wear out due to regular use, especially in older vehicles.
- Poor Road Conditions: Driving on poorly maintained roads with a lot of potholes and bumps can cause damage to tie rods.
- Accidents: Minor accidents and fender benders can sometimes cause damage to your vehicle’s tie rods.
- Lack of Maintenance: Failure to regularly inspect and maintain your vehicle can lead to tie rod issues.
Common symptoms of a failing tie rod include uneven tire wear, a vibrating or shaking steering wheel, and a loose-feeling steering wheel.
DIY Tie Rod Replacement vs. Professional Help
Replacing a tie rod is a relatively complex process, requiring a certain level of mechanical knowledge and tools. It involves lifting the vehicle, removing the wheel, disconnecting the tie rod, and replacing it with a new one, then adjusting the toe alignment.
Although it’s possible to do it yourself if you’re experienced in auto repair, most people prefer to leave this job to a professional mechanic. Incorrect installation can lead to severe handling issues and potentially dangerous situations on the road.
Tie Rod Replacement Cost
Tie rod replacement costs can vary significantly depending on the make and model of your vehicle and whether you choose to do the work yourself or hire a professional.
The cost of the tie rod part itself typically ranges from $20 to $100 per rod. High-end or specialized vehicles may have more expensive parts. If you’re doing it yourself, this could be your only cost, though you’ll also need tools and possibly an alignment tool or service.
Professional replacement, including parts and labor, generally ranges from $100 to $600 per rod. A significant part of the cost comes from labor, and another portion may come from a professional alignment, which is recommended after replacing tie rods.
Top Quality Tie Rod Brands
When it comes to purchasing tie rods, choosing a reputable brand can make a difference in terms of durability and performance. Some of the top-quality tie rod brands include:
- Moog: Moog is a widely recognized name in the world of suspension parts, known for their durability and performance.
- ACDelco: ACDelco offers high-quality replacement parts for a wide range of vehicles.
- TRW: TRW is another reputable manufacturer that produces high-quality tie rods for a variety of vehicle makes and models.
- MAS: MAS offers a comprehensive range of durable steering and suspension parts, including tie rods.
Frequently Asked Questions about Tie Rod Replacement
How will I know if my tie rods need replacement?
Symptoms of failing tie rods can include unusual tire wear, a shaking or vibrating steering wheel, wandering steering, or a loose steering feel. In severe cases, a failing tie rod might make a clunking noise when you turn the wheel.
Can I drive my car with a bad tie rod?
It is not safe to drive a vehicle with a bad tie rod. The tie rod could potentially break, causing you to lose control of the vehicle.
How often should tie rods be replaced?
There’s no set schedule for tie rod replacement, as their lifespan can vary based on driving habits, road conditions, and vehicle make and model. However, many mechanics recommend checking them at least once a year.
Does a tie rod replacement require an alignment?
Yes, it’s generally recommended to get a professional alignment after replacing a tie rod. Incorrect alignment can lead to premature tire wear and handling issues.
Understanding tie rod replacement is crucial for vehicle maintenance. Ensure that you regularly check your car’s tie rods and, in case of any damages, get them replaced promptly to avoid any adverse implications.