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Signs of Bad Tie Rod Ends: All You Need to Know

Rod Knock

Some of the common signs of bad tie rod end include:

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  • Strange steering wheel behavior
  • Troubles with a front-end alignment
  • Issues with uneven tire wear
  • Strange squealing noises
  • Difficulty steering

Your vehicle consists of a variety of interacting components. Some of these components might allow you to control your vehicle, and when it fails, you lose the ability to control the car, leading to safety troubles.

The tie rod is responsible for connecting your steering wheel to the wheels, so you cannot control the vehicle freely. In addition, over time of use, the tie rod might experience problems with their ends portions where you must take care of them immediately. Otherwise, you will deal with troubles controlling the car and get involved in major car accidents.

This article provides you with the common signs of bad tie rod ends to help you detect the problem early and resolve it without installing major components. It also highlights rough estimates about how much it'll cost you to repair the tie rod ends.

What is the tie rod and What does it do?

Before we discuss the details about signs of bad tie rod ends, it's critical to understand the purpose of tie rods in your vehicle. Typically, the tie rod is a core component linked to your vehicle's steering system. It connects the steering wheel to the wheels so you can control the vehicle.

The tie rod has a bolt-in socket and to help allow your vehicle's wheels to move side to side up and down without any issues or without you noticing it as you're driving your vehicle.

What are the common signs of bad tie rod ends?

Since the tie rod is not designed to last forever, there will be a point in time where you must deal with some issues. The most common type of tie rod problem is a problem with the tie rod end.

When the tie rod end brake completely, you won't be able to control your vehicle, which means that you put your life at risk of major crashes that might impact your safety and the safety of other people around you on the road.

Therefore, it is crucial for you as a driver to familiarize yourself with the common signs of bad tie rod ends so you detect the problem early before it gets complicated and things get out of hand.

The good news is that when your tie rod ends start wearing out, you'll vehicle will communicate with you by showing you some symptoms to grab your attention to resolve the issue. Let's take a closer look at the common signs of a bad tie rod end:

1-    Strange steering wheel behavior

One of the most common sometimes indicating that the tie rods are about to wear out is when you have a weird behavior of your steering system. Typically, when the tie rod is very loose, your steering wheel will start shaking or vibrating, or probably the steering wheel might feel a little loose than before.

Keep in mind that problems with steering wheel behavior might be linked to other troubles and other faulty components. Therefore, before you attempt to change the tie rods, you must consult your mechanic to perform a thorough inspection to determine whether there are any other problems in your vehicle or not.

2-    Troubles with a front-end alignment

Another common symptom indicating that the tie rods are wearing out is when you have issues with the alignment. More specifically, if you tried to go through a pothole or a curb, it could be a problem with the tie rod if you realize that the vehicle's alignment is not as it should cover. But, again, vehicles alignment might also be linked to other troubles, and you must confirm the issue before moving forward with replacing or repairing your vehicle's tie rod.

3-    Issues with uneven tire wear

When the tie rod has issues, your vehicle might be leaning to one side more than the other. Therefore, the car's weight will be focused on one side, causing the tires to wear out more than the other tires. As a result, if you performed a quick visual inspection of your vehicle's tires and realized that the tires are not wearing out the same, it could be a problem with the tie rod.

One more time, uneven tire wear might not be linked to the tie rod end. Instead, it could be due to a problem with other components, like issues with the suspension system.

4-    Strange squealing noises

If you experience some weird squealing noises every time you turn or steer the wheel, it could be trouble with the tie rod. However, the same squealing noise might be linked to insufficient steering wheel fluid or other internal problems. Therefore, despite the cause of the problem, you must have your mechanic look in detail and determine the real culprit causing the squealing noise.


As a rule of thumb, automotive experts recommend never ignoring any weird noises coming from your vehicle. These noises might be linked to minor issues, but also, they can be linked to significant troubles that could cost you the entire vehicle, if not your life.

5-    Difficulty steering

Finally, since the primary job of the tie rod is to connect the steering wheel to the wheels, another common symptom indicating that a tie rod is filling out could be difficulty steering. Difficulty steering is an indication of completely worn-out tie rods, which means that there's a very high chance that you might need to replace the entire rod in difficult situations.

That's why it's critical to keep an eye for early symptoms indicated in this list before reaching this stage, where you can resolve the issue without needing to install major components.

How much does it cost to replace bad tie rod ends?

Repairing the tie rod ends is not a very expensive job and should cost somewhere between $40 and $120. Price range depends heavily on the location where you get the job because labor costs vary significantly depending on where you get the job done.

For example, if you repair the tie rod ends yourself, you don't have to worry about labor costs at all. But, on the other hand, if you get the tie rods takes at the dealership, you'll have to deal with significantly high labor costs.

Since the tie rod has to do with how you control the vehicle, most automotive experts never recommend fixing the tie rod ends yourself unless you're an experienced mechanic. Any mistake in this system might lead to significantly hazardous situations, which means that no matter how much money you're going to save on labor costs, it's better to leave it to professionals.

How often should I replace tie rod ends?

There's no specific travel will you have to replace your vehicle's tie rod ends or even the tie rod themselves. However, most automotive experts recommend checking and inspecting the tie rods regularly every time your vehicle jacks up because inspecting the rods is not a complicated job, and it doesn't take more than a couple of minutes.

Therefore, it's critical that you maintain regular inspection of your tie rods. You must also keep an eye for any symptoms indicating that the tie rods are wearing out before their expiration dates. Whenever you notice any symptoms, you must consult your mechanic, and they have the tie rods either replaced or repaired if possible.

Can I drive a vehicle with a bad tie rod end?

It depends on how bad the tie rod ends are worn out. In other words, if it's just initial wear out in the tie rod ends, you continue driving your vehicle because it won't stop you from controlling the car.

However, if the tyrant ends are completely failing out, you won't be able to control the car, and it will most likely have to consult a towing service to get your vehicle to the nearest repair shop. That's why whenever you notice any early symptom of a bad tie rod, you should take it seriously and repair the issue before getting stuck in nowhere with no help nearby.

What causes the tie rod ends to wear out prematurely?

Since the tie rods are not those components that you have to replace regularly, understanding what causes the tie rod ends to wear out prematurely is extremely helpful to help me save money and prevent you from getting situations where the towers break down suddenly.

Typically, the tie rod ends might wear out due to the following causes calling

1-    Insufficient lubrication

Like any other metal component in your car, the tie rods require sufficient lubrication to prevent friction and heat generation that could damage the different internal components. When the tie rods do not receive lubrication due to insufficient supply, you'll deal with premature damage is in the tie rods and the tie rod ends.

2-    Driving habits and external effects

When driving through a pothole or hitting a curb, there's a very high chance that the lubrication lights leak out, causing the tie rods to break down prematurely. That's why it's recommended that you be very careful about how you drive your vehicle to prevent damaging not only the tie rods but also any other components in your suspension system and the steering system.

Therefore, whenever you head through a pothole, you must slow your vehicle down and allow it to leave the pothole slowly whenever you can. It's better to prevent getting through the pothole as much as you can and never get to a point where you must run your vehicle over the pothole in the first place.

3-    Skipping regular maintenance

Experts always recommend keeping up with your vehicle's owner’s manual and get an idea about what regular inspections are required. Even if it's not listed, inspecting the tie rods is very helpful to help you identify problems before they even appear.

Therefore, when you're being connected to look at the tie rods, he'll tell you that there is no sufficient lubrication at certain points, which means that he can resolve the issue and prevent major breakdowns from happening by adding some grease to take care of the issue.

4-    Ignoring wear out symptoms

As we indicated earlier, sometimes the tie rod might show early symptoms indicating that they're about to wear out. Therefore, you must never skip these symptoms and take them seriously to resolve the issue and provide any required lubrication to save the tie rods and extend their lifetime.

On the other hand, if you ignore these symptoms, you'll easily deal with sudden breakage in your steering system, where you might not even be able to drive the car at all.


The tie rods are critical components in your vehicle's steering system. They are responsible for connecting the steering wheel to the wheels, which means that you can't control the car without a perfectly working tie rod.

Tie rods are known to have problems at the end portion where the rod meets the wheels. When that happens, you won't drive the car unless the problem is minor. Automotive experts recommend keeping an eye for any symptoms indicating that the tie rod is about to wear out. Whenever you notice any of these symptoms, you must consult your mechanic to fix the issue.

Although replacing the tie rod is not a very expensive job, if your vehicle already has major mechanical problems, it might not be worth your time and effort to invest in a tie rod replacement. Instead, experts recommend selling your car and using its value to purchase a better vehicle. Keep in mind that you must be upfront with your potential buyer and let them know that there is an issue with the tie rod.

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