6 Signs of Faulty Tie Rod Ends

A group of tie rod ends isolated on a white background.

There isn’t a car part in existence that doesn’t decline naturally through years of use. As such, even tie rod ends can go bad. Knowing the signs of when this part is on its way out means that you can tackle the problem early before it becomes too dangerous, or before its failure causes damage to other parts.

1. Alignment

There are many reasons why your front end could be out of alignment. However, if there’s a persistent problem maintaining a good alignment on the front wheels, the source could well lie with bad tie rod ends. The tie rods are adjusted during an alignment, so if they’re not in good condition this will have an impact and the vehicle won’t be able to keep its proper alignment.

2. Tire Wear

When the vehicle is out of alignment, one of the telltale signs is uneven tire wear. There will be a tendency toward excessive wear on the outside or inside of the tire, often to an excessive degree. If this happens you should have the tie rod ends checked to be certain they’re in good condition.

3. Rapidd Wearing Tires

Bad tie rod ends can’t maintain proper toe-in (necessary for proper steering control). As a result there will be a tendency for the tires to wear rapidly. It’s a very common sign of bad tie rod ends.

4. Loose Tie Rods

As the tie rods ends go bad, the entire tie rod will become loose, leading to excessive play. A physical check of the amount of play in the tie rods will be able to tell you if there’s a problem you need to deal with.

5. Shaking Steering Wheel

With bad tie rod ends, the steering wheel will have problems maintaining proper control or communication with the wheels. As a result, the steering wheel can shake or vibrate as you drive. This will be most noticeable when you’re turning the wheel to round a corner.

6. Vibrating Car

When the tie rods are really bad, close to failing completely, the car itself will start to vibrate. If the damage has progressed this far, the steering wheel is close to losing control of the wheels and the vibration is being caused by the tires shaking on their own. You may not feel this as much when you’re maintaining speed, but usually turning the wheel or accelerating and decelerating will make the problem more obvious.

If you’ve gotten to this stage of wear, take your car in for repair immediately. Driving a vehicle in this condition is dangerous.