TIE ROD END
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EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT TIE ROD ENDS
By Andy Jensen
You might be thinking it's time to replace your tie rod ends, or maybe your mechanic laid down the law. Either way, it's time to first understand the basics, like what is a tie rod end, as well as the symptoms of a failing tie rod end. While failing tie rods can be a serious issue, there are some easy solutions to the troubles you may have with them. Here's a complete look at everything you need to know about tie rod ends.

WHAT IS A TIE ROD END, AND WHAT DOES IT DO
Tie rod ends are simple parts that connect the steering rack to the steering knuckle on each front wheel. An adjusting sleeve sits between the inner and outer tire rod ends. When you turn the steering wheel, it transmits that movement through various steering components until the tie rod ends push or pull the wheel and make the wheels turn. Having the ability to turn corners is pretty important, so tie rod ends play a large role in any vehicle's safety. Deceptively simple looking, the outer tie rod end hides some internal parts.

Here's a breakdown of the different pieces:

The long shaft body passes steering movement to the ball stud
The rounded part houses several bearings that give you proper steering movement even while compensating for bumpy roads
There's usually a grease fitting on the back allowing the bearings to spin freely inside the housing
The bushing is there to keep road grit out of sensitive internal parts
The threaded bolt end goes into the steering knuckle
The inner tie rod end straight body connects to a bearing housing. It's all covered by a rubber protective dust boot
SYMPTOMS OF FAILING TIE ROD ENDS
Uneven tire wear. If the inside or outside tread of your front tires are wearing early compared to the rest of the tread, it can be a sign that the wheel camber is incorrect.
Squealing sound from the front when turning. This sounds different from the squeal/groan the power steering makes when low on fluid. A failing tie rod end has more of a brief, high-pitched shriek. This could just be a bad ball joint, so take a look to be sure.
Loose steering feel. Also described as clunky or shaky steering, this will feel like a slight disconnect between steering movement and the associated movement in the wheel/tire.
Tie rod failure. This is the most severe sign. A broken tie rod causes steering loss, which could lead to an accident. This is why manufacturers take these components seriously and recall a vehicle if there's a chance they were misassembled at the factory.

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