The tie rod is a vital component in any vehicle. Its purpose is to connect the suspension and steering parts of the vehicle to the wheels on the ground. As a result, the wheels will turn whenever you turn the steering wheel. The tie rod needs to stay functional if you want the steering to remain functional too. But like most parts of a vehicle, the tie rod will age over time. It will also endure faster wear and damage if you regularly drive over bumps or rough roads. Therefore, you can expect your tie rod to go bad if you keep your vehicle for over 5 years.
The Top 5 Symptoms of a Bad Tie Rod
You are probably wondering how you will know if your tie rod goes bad. Well, there are very noticeable symptoms that you can watch out for which will indicate this. Below are the top 5 symptoms of a bad tie rod.
Front End Misaligned – The tie rod helps sustain the alignment of your vehicle’s front end. If the tie rod were to become damaged or worn out, it will loosen up too much. This will cause the front end to become misaligned. You will notice this misalignment as you’re driving the vehicle because it will be moving to the left or right as it’s pointed forward.
Steering Wheel Shakes – The tie rod keeps the components of the suspension as solid and tight as possible. If the tie rod goes bad and loosens, it will bounce around as you accelerate the vehicle. Meanwhile, you will be able to feel vibrations coming from the steering wheel as you’re holding it with your hands. It will get to the point where the steering wheel is shaking instead of just vibrating.
Steering Wheel Loose – Your steering wheel will do at least one of two things if the tie rod goes bad. It will either shake or it will feel loose. You may still be able to drive the vehicle if there is shaking, but a loose steering wheel is a different story. Do not take any chances where the steering wheel is concerned. Take the car to the auto shop at once if you notice this symptom.
Abnormal Tire Wear – Tire wear is supposed to happen evenly on your tires. But if you have one or more tires which are showing signs of uneven wear, then you could have a problem. A bad tie rod will cause the inner and outer edges of a tire to wear faster than the rest of the tire. You can notice this simply by looking at the tires yourself.
Vehicle Vibration – This is a continuation of the previous symptom involving uneven tire wear. Once your tires begin to have uneven wear, your entire vehicle will start to vibrate. As you press your foot down on the gas pedal and accelerate, the vibrations will only intensify. This will make it difficult to drive comfortably.
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When you find out that you have a bad tie rod, you will need to replace it immediately. The replacement cost of a tie rod is anywhere from $250 to $330. The price of the parts is only around $110 to $120, while the price of the labor is about $140 to $210. You can expect taxes and fees to be added to the final price as well. If you want to reduce this price as much as possible, you will need to shop around for the cheapest labor rates at all your local auto shops. Also, after the tie rod gets replaced, you will need a front-end alignment done as well. This will straighten the wheels out of your vehicle.