What Is a Tie Rod and What Does It Do?

Steering is a crucial part of any automobile and you cannot do it without a tie rod. If you are not able to steer easily, chances are that you are going to face challenges while driving in the near future. This is because whenever you use steering, you are engaging the tie rods on your car. Whether you are taking a right, left, or go straight, tie rods actually help you remain in control. So let's learn more about this!

What Is a Tie Rod?

tie rod

Tie rods link the steering rack to the steering knuckles on which the front wheels pivot. It transmits the force from the rack gear to the steering knuckle which in turn causes the wheel to turn. A tie rod consists of an inner and outer end. The outer tie rod connects to an adjusting sleeve which permits adjustments in the length of the tie rod. This adjustment helps in setting the alignment angle in an automobile.

The tie rod end is the outer section and is more susceptible to wear and failure. Hence, care needs to be taken because if they fail they can disrupt the car alignment and can cause tire wear off or loss of control while driving.

Critical Components of the Tie Rod

Components of a tie rod

A tie rod links the steering knuckle (learn more about it here) of your car to the rack on the front wheel. Whenever you move your steering wheel, it triggers the movement in your car and sets the wheel in motion. In other words, the rods pull or push thereby making the wheel turn. You cannot drive your car if you cannot turn around the steering wheel. This is enough to make you understand the importance of tie rods and maintaining them in an appropriate condition. The critical components of tie rods are

  • The rounded area comprises multiple bearings that make it easier for you to steer when you operate your car on a bumpy terrain
  • The body of the shaft transmits movements into the ball stud as you drive
  • A grease fitting enables the bearings on the tie rods to move easily
  • A bushing protects the internal devices from grit and debris
  • Links the steering knuckle through a threaded bolt

By the way, here you will find our reviews of the best tie rods available on the market.

What Will Happen if It Breaks?

man fixing a car

Tie rods require a regular inspection from qualified mechanics. Any wear in the tie rod can disrupt the suspension system and the steering mechanism of your car. As the tie rods start wearing, they can become loose and can develop slack which can be felt while steering your automobile. Problems in tie rod ends can impact your car’s alignment negatively and can result in excessive tire wear.

It is critical to maintaining the front suspension alignment of your car in an appropriate condition and this can be done by keeping it in an appropriate condition. You can learn more about this in our other blog post that covers this question in more detail. Find it here.

How Do Tie Rods Work?

tie rod mechanism

Tie rods are an integral part of a car’s steering system or any other automobile. The ends of the rod connected to the steering rack and to the steering arm which in turn connects to the wheel. There are primarily two kinds of steering systems: mechanical steering and rack-and-pinion steering. A rack-and-pinion steering system is quite simple in operation.

When you turn your steering, the pinion gear attached to your sheering shaft will start rolling along with the steering rack. This rack in turn is attached to both front wheels and controls the movement. It transmits the force from the steering rack to the steering arm and sets the wheel in motion. The mechanical steering system is slightly more complex in comparison to the rack-and-pinion system.

This is because the mechanical system comprises a gearbox. As soon as you turn your wheel, the steering shaft sets several gears in motion that controls the pitman's arm. This arm in turn moves the steering rack depending on how you steer. The steering rack is connected to the tie rod in a rack and pinion system which in turn is linked to the steering arms. This entire system connects the wheels and assists in movement control while driving.

Tie rods play a crucial role in the steering system. Without tie rods, the entire system would collapse. The outer tie rod end is adjustable which implies that you can change the length of the tie rod for fixing your car’s alignment. This makes it quite evident that tie rods are important and need to be maintained well.

Signs of Issues in a Tie Rod End

Signs of Issues in a Tie Rod End

The most common signs of problems in a tie rod end include:

  • Vibration
  • Uneven tire wear
  • Shaking
  • An erratic feeling while steering the automobile
  • Squeaking noises coming from the front end of the automobile
  • Car pulling to one side during operation

By the way, in case you need to remove your faulty tie rod, you can learn how to do it here.

Final Thoughts

If the tie rod end fails, then the driver will lose their ability to control the car. It is essential to carry out regular inspections of the tie rod ends and replace or repair as soon as any symptoms start showing up. It is also essential to carry out an alignment check at least once so that the replacement of the tie rod can be done on time before anything goes bad while driving.

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