Steering system

Symptoms Of A Bad Tie Rod

Nidhi Nangia
By Nidhi Nangia. March 5, 2018
Symptoms Of A Bad Tie Rod

While driving, you want your tires to run in the direction you move your steering wheel. It may seem obvious, but even slight changes can lead to dangerous handling problems. Several components in your car are responsible for maintaining this steering system. Whether you drive an SUV, truck or car, all of them have a tie rod which attaches to the wheel housing. It aims at ensuring your steering runs efficiently and smoothly, but it is bound to wear out over time, since it is engaged to rotate while the car is in motion. There are a few warning signs you can look out for when you have a bad tie rod. Read this oneHOWTO article to get information about the symptoms of a bad tie rod as well as other relevant details.

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  1. What is a tie rod?
  2. Why a tie rod does go bad?
  3. Symptoms of bad tie rod
  4. Bad tie rod replacement
  5. Conclusion

What is a tie rod?

A tie rod is responsible for connecting the wheels of your car with the suspension components and the steering wheel. This is so that the vehicle can steer as per your directions. Most vehicles use a steering system which includes a tire rod to connect the wheels to the rest of the steering system. A tie rod is attached on the ends of the steering rack. As the pinion is rolled over a slotted rack, it helps in pushing and pulling the wheels as you turn the steering wheel. Tie rods are a significant function in steering your vehicle and keeping you safe while driving.

Why a tie rod does go bad?

A tie rod can wear out because of constant impact over bumpy roads, as well as wearing out over time. Like most other auto parts, a tie rod doesn't have an expiry date like food or medicine. It usually goes bad because of the everyday wear and tear your car undergoes while driving. This means a tie rod can last for several years and some car owners may never need to replace them during their ownership. Others may wear it out much more quickly.

How long a tie rod will last depends on a number of driving conditions. The obstacles we meet while driving, such as poor roads, potholes and minor accidents can cause the tie rod to work inefficiently. Due to their high usage and significance, it is recommended to get your tie rod inspected on a regular basis. Most of the time, the part of the tie rod which wears out first is the tie rod end. You need to replace it completely in order to prevent further damage to your car’s suspension system. If you suspect a bad tie rod in your steering system, then you need to be sure of its symptoms first.

Symptoms Of A Bad Tie Rod - Why a tie rod does go bad?

Symptoms of bad tie rod

Each and every car part deteriorates over time, the tie rod being no exception. If you know the signs to look put for, you can detect the problem early and tackle it before it becomes incurable. If left unattended, it can cause damage to other parts of the car alsol. So, look out for these symptoms while driving your vehicle:

  • Bad alignment: there can be several reasons why the alignment of your front end may go wayward. If you are having a persistent issue to maintain your front wheel alignment, then the source of the problem could be a bad tie rod. The tie rod is adjusted during alignment. If it is not in good working condition, it will make it hard to maintain the alignment of your vehicle. So, if you need to get your wheels aligned every month, then the issue is perhaps your tie rod.
  • Worn out tires: when your car is misaligned, an obvious symptom to see is uneven wear on your tires. There will be excessive wear on the inside or the outside of your tires, while the other side won’t be that bad. If you have uneven wear on your tires, then it’s best to get your tie rod checked.
  • Tire sagging: if your car has a bad tie rod, it will fail to give the needed support to your tires and wheels. As a result, your tires will begin to sag and you will have difficulty while driving. It is a very common sign of having a bad tie rod.
  • Loose tie rod: as the tie rod wears out, it tends to become loose and play excessively. Give attention to the amount of play the tie rod is giving out. If you notice a problem, you need to get your tie rod checked.
  • Out of control steering wheel: with a bad tie rod, your car’s steering wheel may have problem maintaining proper communication and control with the tires. Due to this, you may feel a little shake and vibration in your steering wheel while driving. This vibration will become more noticeable when you turn your wheel while rounding a corner.
  • Vibration: when your car’s tie rod is really bad, nearly failing completely, the vehicle itself will start vibrating. This usually happens when the damage has progressed too far and the steering wheel is losing control of the tires. You will feel the vibration because of the wheels shaking on their own. You may not feel the vibration while maintaining speed, but it will become more obvious as you change your speed. If your car has started vibrating, it is advised to tow your car for repair, as driving a car in this condition can be dangerous.
  • Knocking sound: one obvious sign of your tie rod going bad is a knocking sound that you can hear from the front of your vehicle, especially while turning into a parking lot or any other low speed tight driving condition.

Bad tie rod replacement

If you notice these symptoms and you suspect a bad tie rod, then it is best to take your car to a professional mechanic. They will check your vehicle to identify the problem and if the tie rod needs replacement, they can remove the wheels first. They will then discard the old tie rod and install a new one. There are various types of wrenches that will be used during the process. Once the replacement is done, they will inspect your suspension system and steering wheel for further problems.

The mechanic will also give due attention to the parts that have heavily worn out, as they might cause the new tie rod to not work as efficiently as it should. They will grease the rod to allow smooth rotation. Finally, they will fix the wheels back onto the vehicle and should take the car for a test drive to ensure smooth working order. During this drive, they will check the car for proper handling and steering. Tire alignment might also be done, as the car will likely have gone out of alignment due to the tie rod malfunction.


Although this is an inexpensive job that can be easily done by a professional mechanic, you can further save your money by doing it on your own. Just follow the instructions of a reliable source and get the job done within minutes. It is important to keep an eye on your car’s symptoms, as detecting a problem early can save you a lot of money and trouble that you may lose if you leave the situation unattended. Catch the problem and get it fixed as soon as you notice the first few symptoms of a bad tie rod. Don’t forget to check the make and model of your vehicle to ensure you are getting the job done the right way. Some models may differ, especially when it is front or rear wheel steering.

If you want to read similar articles to Symptoms Of A Bad Tie Rod, we recommend you visit our Car Maintenance and Repair category.

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Symptoms Of A Bad Tie Rod