Tie Rod Ends
What are Tie Rod Ends?
If you were only able to move in straight lines, you wouldn’t be able to get anywhere very efficiently, which is why cars are equipped with steering wheels. When you turn the steering wheel, your effort is transmitted to the power steering box or rack and pinion. The steering box or steering rack converts your rotary motion into linear motion, pushing and pulling your front wheels to the left or right, depending on which way you’d like to go.
Because the wheels need to turn left and right, as well as bounce up and down, small ball-and-socket joints are required to allow for this motion. Tie rod ends connect the steering knuckle to the power steering box or rack. On steering-box vehicles, there is an outer tie rod end at the steering knuckle. On steering rack vehicles, there are both inner and outer tie rod ends.
Why are Tie Rod Ends Important?
Because they allow for a range of motion, tie rod ends serve two important functions. First, they push or pull the front wheels in the direction you wish to go. Second, they need to maintain alignment angles, specifically toe-in, the angle of the tire in relation to the centerline of the vehicle. If the small ball-and-socket joint is loose, it will not hold this angle reliably, possibly causing vibration or abnormal tire wear. If the joint is exceptionally loose, it could fall apart, causing you to lose control of your vehicle.
What are Some Common Problems with Tie Rod Ends?
If you are experiencing problems with your steering system, inspecting tie rod ends may be required. Here are a few instances in which you may need them serviced.
- If your steering feels loose or your vehicle wanders, a loose tie rod end may be the cause.
- If your tires are wearing abnormally, a loose or maladjusted tie rod end could be the culprit.
- An extremely-loose tie rod end could be responsible for noise or clunkiness in the steering system.
- Wobbling, shimmy, or vibration could also be caused by a worn tie rod end.
What can Dobbs Tire & Auto Centers Do for You?
At Dobbs Tire & Auto Centers, our ASE-Certified suspension and steering technicians can inspect your chassis for loose or binding parts. Instead of just “guessing” at it, we’ll use our tools and training to determine exactly what is loose or out of specification and causing your steering concern. If a tie rod end requires replacement, we’ll also suggest a computerized four-wheel alignment to restore alignment angles, handling, and maximize tire life.
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