As a car owner, there are so many little parts and pieces that you need to be attentive to. Any time your car's handling or response changes, you should be aware of what those changes could mean. One common issue that many vehicle owners overlook is the early warning signs of tie rod end wear. Here's a look at what you need to know about your car's tie rod ends and the signs of problems.
Are Tie Rod Ends A Big Deal?
When you hear someone mention tie rod ends, you might think they sound like minimal parts. In fact, while tie rod ends aren't necessarily large parts, they are actually a major component of your car's steering structure.
Tie rod ends connect the steering knuckle to the steering rack. Because of their placement, they bear the brunt of the force from the steering rack, passing that force to the wheels. They are also a critical part of the steering geometry that keeps your car handling safely.
How Do You Know If Your Tie Rod Ends Are Worn?
Many times, vehicle owners have no idea that their tie rod ends are worn until they take the car in for a safety inspection and the technician tells them that the car needs tie rod end replacement to pass that inspection.
If you know the warning signs to watch out for, you can recognize the signs of this wear much sooner, allowing you to plan for the replacement without having to worry about sudden repair expenses for your car to pass inspection.
Most of the indications of tie rod end problems are in the car's steering itself. If you notice that your car starts wandering a bit on the road, the steering is a bit unpredictable, or your steering feels sloppy, this could be a result of tie rod end wear.
Over time, you'll notice that this loose or unpredictable steering will progress to your car pulling to one side, wearing unusually fast on one tire, and even exhibiting vibration in the steering wheel at moderate to high speeds.
What Should You Know About Tie Rod End Repair?
Having tie rod end problems repaired is actually pretty simple, but it can be a time-consuming project for your auto service technician. Not only will the tie rod ends themselves need to be removed and replaced, but your car will also need an alignment afterward.
Any time you replace a component of your steering rack, an alignment is important to ensure that your car is handling properly. Having an alignment done will help to protect your tire wear, car handling, and steering rack lifespan.