How To Diagnose A Failing Tie Rod End

Your vehicle's steering wheel is connected to the front wheels by a series of linkages, control arms, and a part called a tie rod end. The tie rod ends attach to the wheel knuckle, ensuring the front wheels go where you point them. When one fails, it causes a loss of control to one of the front wheels, which could lead to a complete loss of control of the vehicle.

Fortunately, there are signs a tie rod displays before it fails. This article will show you what to look for and how to diagnose a failing tie rod end.

Signs Of A Failing Tie Rod End

OEM GM Tie Rod End

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Tie rod ends are designed to last for a long time and sometimes last the life of your car. Their lifespan is impacted by factors such as your driving style, road conditions, and damage or wear to other suspension components like control arms or shock absorbers. As tie rods wear out, they show one or more of the symptoms below.

  • Clunking, Cracking, Or Popping Sounds:  A failing tie rod end will make a clunking, cracking, or popping sound when going over bumps or making turns. These noises will come from the front suspension and will get louder as the condition of the tie rod end deteriorates. In many cases, you'll also feel more vibration in the steering wheel when these noises occur.
  • Steering Feels Loose Or Has Lots Of Play: A bad tie rod ends makes a vehicle's steering feel loose or vague. The steering wheel may have lots of play or feel slightly disconnected when making turns or changing direction. Additionally, the steering could feel like it's binding or catching on something instead of being smooth and progressive.
  • Bad Alignment Or Excessive Tire Wear: If your tires show excessive or uneven wear on their inner or outer edges, the tie rod ends may be going bad. Your vehicle's alignment will also feel off, or the car may pull to one side while driving.

What Happens When A Tie Rod End Fails?

OEM GM Tie Rod End Replacement

If a tie rod end completely fails, you will lose control of the wheel it's attached to. This means a loss of steering and potentially losing complete control of your vehicle. At best, a broken tie rod end will render your vehicle undrivable. In a worst-case scenario, the loss of control results in an auto accident or other damage that can cost you thousands of dollars.

For this reason, tie rod ends, like all suspension components, should be checked periodically. If they are worn or damaged, they should be replaced as soon as possible.

Replacing Your Tie Rod Ends

OEM GM Tie Rod End

If you have questions about your tie rod ends or need help ordering replacement parts, you can contact us here.

At GM Parts Center, we sell genuine GM parts and accessories for your Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Cadillac, Pontiac, Saturn, Hummer, or Oldsmobile - all backed by GM's replacement part warranty. We offer the best prices and a price match guarantee on all the parts we carry so you can be sure you're getting the best deal.