What Is a Tie Rod?

Tie Rod
Car tie rod

In a car’s steering system, a tie rod connects the car’s steering gear, or rack and pinion gear, to the equipment that actually turns the vehicle’s tires. This is done by connecting a length of rod to the steering wheel on one end with a ball-in-socket on one end that connects to the vehicle’s wheels. The ball-in-socket lets the wheels move up and down and side to side, allowing for a smooth ride as the vehicle navigates different types of road surfaces, bumps, potholes, and other uneven conditions.

About tie rods:

How Do I Know I Need to Replace My Tie Rod?

There are a variety of symptoms that can be present when a tie rod is going bad, including:

Old Rusted Bad Tie Rod
Rusted tie rods
  • Uneven, excessive wear on tires – Check the tires on your car and compare the inside and outside edges of your tires. If they show excessive wear on one side of a tire but little wear on the other side, it could be due to tie rod problems.
  • Steering feels odd or unusual – If your steering wheel feels unnaturally loose, or even just different than what you’re used to, we recommend taking a look at your tie rod. If the steering wheel shakes or vibrates, especially upon turning, this is also a symptom of tie rod problems. You can also check your power steering fluid.
  • A squealing sound when you turn the steering wheel – Any time a loud squealing sound comes from your car, you want to address it quickly. This is often a sign of a potentially dangerous issue, one of which could be a failing tie rod. Some vehicles may also have clunking or rattling sounds. 
  • The front of the vehicle feels out of alignment – While misalignment can be caused by a variety of issues, but if your car feels out of alignment and you don’t remember hitting any potholes or curbs, your tie rod may be to blame.
  • An inability to steer your car – If a tie rod end completely fails, you will not be able to steer your car. Fortunately, this rarely happens without warning. Most times, you’ll experience one or more of the above symptoms before total failure.

While some of these symptoms can indicate other problems, they are all problems that we recommend having a professional look at to ensure your car is safe to drive – both for you and others on the road. A collision or accident will be far more expensive (and painful!) than the repair work.

Can You Drive With A Bad Tie Rod?

You can typically continue to drive your vehicle on a worn or damaged tie rod, but if it fails completely, you’ll lose steering control and will likely need a tow truck to get you home or to a service center for repair work.

What Causes a Tie Rod to Fail?

Tie rods can go bad for a variety of reasons, including normal wear and tear and harsh road conditions. Ultimately, failure is often attributed to a lack of lubrication in the tie rod. Road hazards like potholes, bumps in the road, or even hitting a curb just right can shorten the life of a car’s tie rod ends. Continued rough conditions and road hazards can damage a vehicle’s tie rods, causing lubrication to leak out. When this happens, the tie rod end can loosen and bind up, which will ultimately lead to failure.

How Much Does it Cost to Replace a Tie Rod?

Tie Rod Replacement Cost
New tie rod

Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to give an exact price, or even a close price range when it comes to tie rod replacement. Typically, replacing a tie rod can range from $100 to $400 or more depending on the vehicle, who does the repair work, where you are located, the quality of the replacement parts used, and how hard it is to access the tie rod end to remove and replace.

When it comes to the actual parts costs, a tie rod end can cost anywhere from $20 to $100. Outer tie rod ends are fairly simple to replace, so labor will likely be less expensive than it is for inner tie rod replacement. You can likely expect to pay about $80 to $100 in labor for an outer tie rod replacement. Inner tie rod ends, however, are more work to get to, and will likely cost $150 to $300 in labor. As with most car repairs, you can expect about 50% of your repair bill to be labor costs.

Is Repairing a Car With a Bad Tie Rod Worth it?

Replace Tie Rods
Vehicle tie rods

Due to the potential safety hazard of driving with a bad tie rod, it is recommended that you repair or replace your vehicle as soon as you realize there are problems. A few things to consider before spending the time and money to replace a vehicle’s tie rods:

  • Is anything else wrong with the car?
  • How old is the vehicle?
  • Is it time for a new car?

If there are issues with other systems in the car, or the vehicle is older and is expected to experience failures in the near future, it may be worth getting rid of the car and getting something safer for you and others on the road. 

Unfortunately, vehicles with a lot of problems can be tough to sell to private parties. You may be better off (and get more cash for your car) selling your vehicle to a junk car buyer who will pay you a fair price to recycle your car.

Getting Rid of a Junk Car

If you’re tired of pouring money into fixing an old car and live near Chicagoland, we can help. Our Chicago junk car removal company will pay you cash and tow it for free.

CALL 773-939-3333