If your car doesn’t seem to run as smoothly as it should, you might have malfunctioning tie rods. Tie rods are indispensable components of a car that keep your tires calibrated and actively manage your suspension system. However, tie rods tend to age over time, and they can wear out more quickly if you usually drive over bumps and rough terrain.
Damaged tire rods can induce additional stress on other components of your car, and this can cause even more impairments to your steering system. The faster you have your tire rods fixed, the less expensive repairs you will need to have in the future. In this article, we explain everything there is to know about tie rod replacement costs.
What Are Tie Rods, and What Do They Do?
Tie rods are rods specifically geared to hold components together within the steering system of your vehicle. A combination of inner tie rods and outer tie rods connect the steering wheel to the front tires. Tie rods are designed to take tensile loads, and they are also found in other structures like steel bridges and masonry walls.
Most vehicles on the market contain a built-in rack-and-pinion steering system, which has a steering rack for helping drivers turn their cars. On the ends of this steering rack, tie rods operate by pushing and pulling the front tires as the steering wheel is turned. Thus, even though tie rods are tiny in comparison to other parts for steering and alignment, they play an integral role in the functioning of all parts of a car, including your undercarriage system.
How Can Tie Rods Go Bad?
Each turn of the steering wheel requires action by the tie rods of your car. As time passes, significant wear and tear can degrade their functionality. Tie rods can even break in half and stop functioning altogether if the damage is severe enough. Bad driving habits can further exacerbate overall damage to your car.
On the other hand, several external factors can also create issues with your tie rods. Car accidents and potholes can wear down tie rods and even snap them into two, which necessitates repair and replacement as soon as possible. Otherwise, your car might not steer properly or might not even start in the first place.
Do Tie Rods Last Long?
It is difficult to precisely predict the longevity of your tie rods. Some drivers can operate their cars for a decade without needing to replace their tie rods. Others might have to repair their tie rods once or twice throughout the lifespan of their vehicle — thus, they will have to face the tie rod replacement cost.
More often than not, the longevity of your tie rods depends on a combination of external factors you expose your car to while driving. Regularly encountering potholes and failing to slow down can both wear down tie rods and increase the risk of a tie rod replacement.
Symptoms of Bad Tie Rods
Broken tie rods have very noticeable signs. First, steering wheel vibrations can indicate that your tie rod ends have loosened, which can cause difficulties in turning your vehicle left or right. Another symptom to observe involves vehicle misalignment — your car may seem to pull to one side or the other. High-pitched humming or squeaking noises could also be a sign of a faulty tie rod. These indicate unintended metal-on-metal contact caused by a cracked rubber boot.
Driving a Car With Faulty Tie Rods
It can be tempting to ignore the potential issue of a bad tie rod and continue driving your vehicle around. However, faulty tie rods can affect other parts of your car, such as your brakes. If you allow the issue to persist for a long period of time, your vehicle could suddenly lose control and put passengers, pedestrians, and other drivers at risk of accidents on the road.
Thus, you should avoid using a vehicle with faulty tie rods, as it can lead to a dangerous position. The best step to take is to hire a competent mechanic to look at the issue and have your tie rods replaced as quickly as possible.
The Process of a Tie Rod Replacement
First, mechanics take a general look at your car and determine all the possible factors related to your problem. While your car may show symptoms of faulty tie rods, it could be possible that another component is causing the issue. After concluding that tie rods do need to be replaced, a mechanic will then take the tires off of your vehicle.
Afterward, using a wide variety of wrenches, they will remove the worn-down tie rods and install new components. As soon as they are in place, the mechanic will begin inspecting the suspension and steering systems for other worn-down components, which may have been damaged by the previous tie rods.
Then, they will grease the tie rods for smoother performance and test drive the vehicle for proper steering. A mechanic might also choose to carry out tire alignment if necessary, as this can be an issue for malfunctioning tie rods.
How Much Does Replacing Tie Rods Cost?
It is imperative that you fix bad tie rods as soon as possible rather than continuing to use your vehicle for a long period of time. However, some drivers may hesitate to have their tie rods replaced due to the cost of this specific service.
While tie rod replacement may not be as expensive as other forms of auto repairs, it overall depends on the type of your vehicle and the extent of damage done to your car. Furthermore, you will also have to factor in miscellaneous fees such as installation and labor in the overall cost.
The cost of replacing one tie rod end will approximately be $95 to $300. However, your mechanic might suggest replacing both the inner and outer ends of your tie rods. Moreover, there might be a chance you will need to fix other issues, such as your steering rack. You may have to spend around $640 to $1,200 for steering rack replacement based on component prices and labor costs.
How To Save Money on Tie Rod Replacement Costs
Faulty tie rods can be costly, but you might be able to spend less money in several ways. If you are confident in doing inspections of your own tie rods, you can check whether they have gotten loose yourself. You can try holding a front wheel on its sides and simultaneously pushing and pulling with both hands to check for damage. You can also wiggle your tie rods to determine any looseness. Excess mobility will have to be addressed immediately.
Moreover, if you are skilled and experienced enough, you can do your own tie rod repairs under the supervision of an expert or through an instructional video. While tie rod replacement is a relatively simple process, you might damage your car without proper knowledge and/or professional assistance. Therefore, you must only attempt DIY tie rod replacement if you are familiar with the workings of your vehicle as well as if you own the right tools at home.
Thus, we recommend having your vehicle checked by a suitable mechanic to ensure the overall safety of your car. Since about half of the total price is for labor, it is more affordable in the long run to purchase OEM automotive components or high-quality parts. You must also include a front-end alignment when estimating the total cost of repairs.
It is also a wise decision to compare labor rates at local repair services near you to decrease the overall cost as much as possible. Miscellaneous fees and taxes may be added to the final price, so we suggest weighing the options of either a dealership or a trusted independent shop so you can decide which works best for you.
Is a Tie Rod Replacement Cost Worth It?
It is important to replace faulty tie rods as soon as possible, as continuing to drive a car with malfunctioning steering and suspension systems can lead to potential issues. These risks include severe tire wear and misalignment of your vehicle. The best-case scenario would be a feeling of discomfort due to excessive vibrations of the vehicle and delays in schedule. On the other hand, the worst-case scenario would be complete failure of the tie rods, so control over the car could be lost in an instant.
However, it is equally necessary to address the overall state of your car and whether the tie rods are necessarily the problem. For example, if your car is an older model and has issues that would persist after replacing the tie rods, spending a hundred dollars on new components would likely not be a worthwhile investment.
Next Steps To Take
If your vehicle would benefit from replacing the faulty tie rods, then spending money for the services of a capable mechanic is a good option. However, an older car may not be suitable for driving even if the tie rods do get replaced. In this case, you may want to consider selling your car to a scrap dealer.
You can sell a used SUV, truck, or car for cash through Cash Auto Salvage. We remove the hassle of junking a vehicle, and we can provide you an offer in less than 90 seconds. Contact us today!