Tie rods are responsible for adding precision to the steering system in your car. Every vehicle has at least two inner tie rods which are connected to the steering gear mechanism with an outer tie rod. Each time you turn your steering wheel, the tie rods pivot to enable a smooth and clean steering movement.
You must have fully functional tie rods for your steering abilities to remain safe for driving. However, if any of your tie rods were to get damaged or stop working as usual, then you could experience quite a bit of difficulty with your steering system. In fact, it could ultimately make your vehicle unsafe to drive.
Tie Rod Bad Symptoms
Tie rods don’t just go bad instantly. As the tie rods slowly deteriorate and lose functionality, you will notice specific symptoms progressively worsen over time. But if you can recognize these symptoms early enough, then you’ll have the time to get your vehicle to the auto shop before your driving is negatively impacted.
Below are the three main symptoms of a bad tie rod in the car.
1) Looseness in the Steering Wheel
When tie rods begin to fail, the first symptom you may notice is a minor shift or looseness in the steering wheel. A healthy steering wheel should never feel loose because it is an indication that you’re starting to lose control of your front wheels.
Remember that the tie rods are connected to the front wheels of your vehicle. Don’t wait for your tie rods to go bad because it could jeopardize your ability to turn or accelerate the vehicle smoothly and safely.
2) Popping or Clicking Noises
You may hear popping or clicking noises as you turn the steering wheel. If you only hear these noises when you turn the steering wheel or accelerate, it is a good indication that your tie rods are failing.
It is not uncommon to feel vibrations in the steering wheel when your tie rods are failing. The vibrations will start small and barely noticeable but then quickly change into something more annoying and disturbing to the driver. If the vibrations become more intense as you accelerate or turn the wheel, you definitely have bad tie rods.
Tie Rod Replacement Cost
The total replacement cost of a tie rod is between $140 and $400. The exact replacement cost depends on the hourly labor rate, quality of the parts, and the make and model of the vehicle. The tie rod components don’t’ cost more than $40 to $120 each, while the labor costs should be no more than $100.
Don’t forget that many auto mechanics charge between $80 and $120 per hour to work on a vehicle. Some model vehicles have their inner tie rods in harder-to-reach areas, which may require more time for the mechanic to replace them. Keep that in mind.
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Problems after Tie Rod Replacement and Tips to Fix
When tie rods have been replaced in your vehicle, you may experience a few more problems afterward. This is common whenever someone replaces a component in their suspension or steering system, especially if the component is a tie rod.
Here are the common problems found after a tie rod replacement.
1) Shaky Steering Wheel
When you drive away from the auto shop after your tie rods have been replaced, you may notice your steering wheel is shaking. This happens if you have a torn tie rod boot. Not only does it cause your steering wheel to shake, but it can also damage your new tie rods as well.
The only solution here is to replace the damaged tie rod boots as soon as possible. There must be a healthy boot in place to avoid the degradation of your tie rods. And finally, do wheel alignment.
2) Lower Fuel Efficiency
A tie rod replacement may cause an increase in your gas mileage. For example, if you have misaligned wheels and new tie rods, it will put more resistance on the wheels when driving on the road. Then more fuel will be consumed because of the higher demand that it puts on the engine.
Therefore, you need to have your wheels realigned if you end up spending more money at the gas pump after you’ve had your tie rods replaced. And finally do wheel alignment.
3) Uneven Wear on the Tire Treads
You may notice your tire treads are wearing out more quickly after replacing your tie rods. Check the wear pattern on each tire and compare them to one another. If you notice uneven wear on the tires, then it could be due to uneven vehicle weight distribution on your wheels.
Have the mechanic recheck their tie rod replacement job to see if they need to make some adjustments. And finally, do wheel alignment.