The Ultimate Tie Rod Buying Guide
Importance Of Tie Rods And A Guide To Buying Them
While straight-line performance is essential, the ability to steer the vehicle in the desired direction is also critical for the functionality of the vehicle. The steering system consists of several components that allow the driver to control the angle of the front wheels, one of the most important elements of that system is the tie rods. Most vehicle owners are either unaware of these components or pay very little attention when worn or damaged which leads to loss of control and serious safety issues.
What Are Tie Rods?
The front wheels of the car are connected to the steering knuckle which in turn is connected to the steering rack with a set of shafts or rods on either side. There are two rods on both sides: Inner and outer tie rods. The outer tie rod is often referred to as the tie rod end. A tie rod is a device that links your car’s steering knuckle to the steering rack on the front wheel. The out and inner ends of the tie rod surround an adjusting sleeve. When you rotate your steering wheel, it activates movement throughout the mechanism. The rods pull or push the wheel and make it turn.
The tie rod end consists of a ball joint on the end where it attaches to the knuckle. This ball joint allows horizontal movement of the wheels and provides a pivot point for the steering knuckle. The rounded area contains multiple bearings that provide the ability to steer even when you operate your vehicle on bumpy terrain.
Every vehicle, regardless of the type of steering system - linkage or pinion and rack, uses tie rods to connect the steering knuckle to the steering rack. Apart from the intended horizontal steering of the wheels, the tie rods also provide a means to adjust the alignment of the vehicle. The inner tie rod usually consists of an adjustable threaded sleeve that can be used to alter the toe-in/toe-out of both wheels.
A damaged tie rod or worn-out tie rod ball joint can hinder the movement of the wheels which can result in loss of control over the vehicle and a decline in safety.
Inner Vs Outer Tie Rod
There are two tie rods for both front wheels. An in-line ball joint makes up the inner tie rod. The inner tie rods are pivot points and are attached to the end of the center link. It is located closer to the centerline of the vehicle and is accordingly named "inner tie rod." The inner tie rod is the first pivot point initiating the wheel to turn.
A right-angled ball joint makes up the outer tie rod. The steering knuckle is attached to the outer tie rod. The outer tie rod is what turns the wheel. It is the final pivot point initiating the wheel to turn. From the center of the vehicle, it is located farther out than the inner rod and is accordingly named "outer tie rod.
Inner tie rods allow the suspension to operate independently without affecting the direction of the vehicle. Inner tie rods have extra connection threads. The outer tie rod consists of a sleeve with internal or external threads dispensing on the design, that attach to the inner tie rod. This adjustable threaded sleeve connects the two tie rods. Increasing or decreasing the length helps adjust the toe settings and align the wheels. This adjustable sleeve is used when wheel alignment is carried out.
What Are The Things I Should Consider When Buying New Tie Rods?
Most tie rod ends are vehicle specific so finding one that is meant for your vehicle is necessary for a precise fit. Finding the right size for tie rods is critical as the wheel alignment is affected by it. Modern cars come with adjustable sleeves that allow altering the toe angles for accurate alignment. This is not the case for many older model vehicles, as they originally come with non-adjustable tie rods. In such cases, you can opt for aftermarket tie rods with an adjustable sleeve to have more control over the wheel alignment.
OE Vs Heavy-Duty
Tie rods can be distinguished based on their construction. The most important section of the tie rod end is the ball joint. The construction of the ball joints can be enhanced to offer more rigidity and strength for long-lasting and more high-stress applications like off-road vehicles and track cars. These severe duty ball joints have sturdier designs with thicker gauge steel and undergo rigorous testing to ensure they can withstand harsher conditions compared to their OE counterparts. The internal components of the ball joints, like the bearing and spring, are also made of metal which wears much slower than the plastic, giving it longer service life.
If you own a pickup, heavy-duty trucks and trailers, off-road or high-performance vehicles, then you can be benefited from the extra strength offered by severe duty tie rods. For daily commute vehicles, compact cars, and sedans OE standard tie rods are more than sufficient for light usage. Refer to the brand's section and learn about the various features different tie rods offer to find ones suited to your needs. Refer to the brand’s section and learn about the various features different tie rods offer to find ones suited to your needs.
Sealed Or Greasable Ball Joint
The difference between sealed and greaseable ball joints is evident from the name. Sealed ball joints come pre-lubed with grease from the factory and cannot be greased throughout their lifespan. Greaseable ball joints have a zerk fitting or grease valve on the ball joint which can be used to add grease periodically. Greaseable ball joints usually last longer as the lubricant can be refurbished by removing old contaminated grease from the ball joint and adding fresh clean grease. Sealed ball joints mean less trouble for the vehicle owner but also mean the joint will be susceptible to wearing out faster. Most aftermarket tie rods come with grease valves. However, it is important to grease the greasable ball joints regularly or the contaminants within the joint can cause excess wear resulting in a reduced lifespan.
This again comes down to personal preferences but those with less idea of the market can refer to the top brand section to understand the features of the bestselling steering and suspension component manufacturers to decide the brand of choice. The mentioned features showcase the fortes of the corresponding brand which can help you decide the right tie rod for your personal application.
Carrying Out Wheel Alignment
Once the tie rods are replaced it becomes critical to carry our wheel alignment. The tie rods control the toe-in/toe-out of the vehicle and limit the camber angle as well. An out-of-sync tie rod will cause the wheel to sit at an unfavorable angle with the road surface and cause tires to wear unevenly, induce undue stresses on various suspension components, and even harms the tie rod end ball joint. Driving with unaligned wheels is a serious safety issue and can prove dangerous at higher speeds. Have your vehicle aligned after a tie rod replacement to ensure it is working optimally.
What Are The Top Tie Rod Brands I Should Choose From?
Mevotech Tie Rods
Mevotech gives technicians the edge by innovating every chassis component. Mevotech engineers focus on making their parts faster and easier to install and engineer them to provide a longer service life. Employing punishing durability testing, they validate every new design to ensure you get the performance you can trust.
- Metal design of internal components: Internal metal designs are widely used in the manufacture of Mevotech X Factor tie rod ends. These designs incorporate highly durable upper and lower metal bearings that surround the tie rod end stud and ball joint, and they include grease fittings to allow for grease and lubrication to be injected into the central area to prolong the life of the tie rod end.
- Greaseable: Greasable tie rod ends to enable the joint to be serviced, to flush out old grease and contaminants by injecting new grease during inspection and maintenance routines.
- Black oxide coating: The black oxide coating provides high resistance to variable corrosion factors such as road debris and adverse road and weather conditions, ensuring the prolonged life of the tie rod end.
- Parts are manufactured to meet exact requirements and designed to meet or exceed OE replacement with OEM quality standards at an affordable price. They offer fast and smooth installation and parts can be directly fitted.
For more, you can visit our Mevotech Steering Component Section
Moog Tie Rods
Backed by superior materials and rigorous testing, MOOG® tie rod ends to deliver the reliable performance you can count on. MOOG problem-solving innovations ensure fast, hassle-free installation.
- Superior Construction: MOOG® engineered forged steel composition and powdered-metal gusher bearing design enable reduced friction and enhanced strength and stability
- Restores Like-new Steering: Patented pressed-in cover plate seals out debris and minimizes looseness, reducing bearing wear and promoting longer life
- Greaseable Socket: Reduces corrosion and wear by allowing new lubricant to flush contaminants
- Absorbs Impact: Belleville preload washer helps keep the bearing package tight as bearings wear
- Problem Solver® Gusher Bearing: Metal-to-metal design provides strength and allows grease to flow through the bearing surface for reduced friction and long life
- Strong & Durable: Ball studs are heat-treated to match or exceed OE requirements to inhibit premature failure and improve fatigue strength
- Easy To Install: Precision tolerances for easy installation and steering alignment give you a perfect fit right out of the box
- Comprehensive Coverage: Available for foreign and domestic nameplates
- Rigorous Testing: Comprehensive testing throughout design and development processes by MOOG engineers for quality you can count on
For more, you can visit our Moog Steering Component Section
Delphi Tie Rods
Underneath the cataphoresis coating for corrosion protection, Delphi's tie rod ends (outer tie rods) and inner tie rods are OE-tested to meet your vehicle's OE specs for alignment. They are fatigue-tested to avoid failure and are supplied with the necessary accessories for a convenient repair job.
- Fatigue tested to avoid catastrophic failure
- Extensive dimensional and material analysis to ensure the very best compatibility between the OE and aftermarket parts.
- Tested to withstand temperatures below -40ºC and over 120ºC, helping to ensure they perform even under the harshest conditions.
- Parts exposed to 720 hours of salt spray for optimum protection against corrosion.
- Additional cataphoretic coating for greater protection against corrosion and enhanced aesthetics.
- OE engineered
Transit Warehouse Tie Rods
TOR offers a full range of heavy-duty steering and suspension car parts, built for optimal fit and extended service life. Each component is tested throughout the manufacturing process to ensure exceptional performance and reliability.
- Premium quality precision-machined components built to last
- Engineered to withstand extreme weather conditions
- Delivers a smooth, stable ride
- Follows Rigorous Testing Procedures
- Multi-Axis Vibration: to confirm overall design durability
- Impact Resistance: to verify the material’s toughness
- Salt Fogging: to check surface coating corrosion resistance capabilities
- Artificial Ageing: to ensure long-term durability and safety
For more, you can visit our Transit Warehouse Steering Component Section
When To Replace Tie Rods?
Tie rods are critical steering system components and are built to last a fairly long time. The main culprit for tie rod failure is the ball joints. The ball joints at either end of the tie rods are always in movement as the wheels are turned and also take some of the impacts as the wheels go over bumps. The constant stresses along with exposure to contaminants and heat can eventually render the components too worn to be used. This usually happens over several hundred kilometers. Most vehicles can go without tie rod replacements for about 150,000 km but some may require replacement much sooner. When the tie rods do fail they will show certain signs of failure. Observing these signs of failure and inspecting them for play and wear can tell a lot about their condition and how much longer they may last. You can carry out tie rod inspection yourself using the directions shown in this guide. One way to extend the tie rod life is to carry out regular inspections and maintenance. Learn more about tie rod maintenance from this article.