Every vehicle consists of a suspension system and steering system. The suspension system represents all the components which allow your vehicle to move smoothly on the road. These components include tires, springs, air, linkages, wheels, and shock absorbers. The steering system includes the components which enable your vehicle’s steering mechanism to function. The three main components of this are the steering column, universal joint, and rack housing.
Now the question is, how is the steering system and suspension system linked together? A component called a tie rod connects your steering to the suspension. That way, whenever you turn the steering wheel while in the driver’s seat, the rotation of the wheel will translate down to the wheels of the suspension system. Obviously, you’ll want your tie rod to stay functional or else you’ll have a lot of trouble steering your vehicle properly.
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Bad Tie Rod Symptoms
Tie rods wear down over time like most other components of your vehicle. The wear and tear will be even worse for the tie rod if you regularly travel over rough roads, especially bumpy roads. On average, a tie rod will start to have problems after about 5 years. If you’ve owned your vehicle for longer than that, then don’t be surprised when you experience some strange symptoms related to this. Once you do, get your vehicle to a mechanic and have them replace your tie rod immediately.
Below are the top 5 symptoms of a bad tie rod in your car.
1) Front End is Not Aligned
The tie rod, along with struts, stabilizer bars, tires, and wheels, are responsible for aligning the front end of your car. This, in turn, sustains the overall alignment of your vehicle. If your tie rod goes bad, it won’t be so securely fastened anymore. Instead, the tie rod will get loose and cause all kinds of problems. The biggest problems involve the misalignment of your front end. When you try to drive straight, you’ll notice the car drifting too much to the right or left. You must replace the tie rod to fix this problem.
2) Steering Wheel Feels Loose
Your steering wheel should never feel too tight or too loose. When you rotate it with your hands, there should be a small amount of resistance but nothing more. But if there is no resistance at all and the steering wheel feels loose, then something is wrong. In many cases, this means the tie rod has gone bad. You cannot safely drive your vehicle when you have a loose steering wheel. You must replace the tie rod to restore the steering wheel’s normalcy.
3) Steering Wheel Vibrations
Before the steering wheel feels loose, an early warning sign of a tie rod problem will be steering wheel vibrations. If you feel the vibrations in your hand as you hold the steering wheel, take this as a serious indicator that your tie rod is likely going bad. Don’t wait for the steering wheel to get loose. Replace the tie rod at once.
4) Uneven Tire Tread Wear
When your vehicle is aligned, the treads of your tires should get worn out evenly. However, if you have a bad tie rod which misaligns your vehicle, then your tire treads will wear out unevenly. Driving will become very uncomfortable when this happens, and steering will become increasingly difficult too.
5) Cabin Vibrations
As a continuation from the last symptom, your entire passenger cabin will vibrate. You will feel the vibrations in your seats, and they will only get worse as you accelerate the vehicle to go faster. Between that and the difficulty steering, you cannot safely drive under these conditions for too much longer.