Brake Pads

How Long Do Tie Rods Last


Tie rods are crucial components of a vehicle’s steering system, responsible for connecting the steering rack or gearbox to the wheels. They play a vital role in maintaining proper wheel alignment and allowing for smooth and controlled steering. Like many other automotive parts, tie rods are subject to wear and tear over time, prompting the question: How long do tie rods last? Understanding the lifespan of tie rods is essential for vehicle maintenance and ensuring safe operation on the road.


Tie rods are typically made of durable materials such as steel or aluminum, designed to withstand the stresses and strains of regular driving. However, various factors can contribute to their eventual wear and deterioration. These factors include driving conditions, road surface quality, vehicle usage patterns, and maintenance practices. Additionally, exposure to moisture, road salt, and other environmental elements can accelerate corrosion and weaken the tie rod components.


In this discussion, we will explore the typical lifespan of tie rods, factors influencing their longevity, signs of wear and impending failure, and best practices for maintenance and replacement.

How Long Do Tie Rods Last

What are the symptoms of a bad tie rod?

Because the tie rods link the steering wheel to the front wheels, steering problems can be a symptom of a loose or damaged tie rod. Common signs include a steering wheel that shakes or vibrates and looseness or excessive play in the steering wheel. A bad tie rod can manifest in several symptoms that indicate potential problems with the steering and handling of a vehicle. 


One common symptom is excessive or uneven tire wear, particularly on the inner or outer edges of the tires. This occurs because a faulty tie rod can cause misalignment, leading to uneven tire contact with the road surface. Another telltale sign is steering instability or a loose feeling when driving, especially at higher speeds. A worn tie rod can result in increased play or looseness in the steering system, making it difficult to maintain control of the vehicle. 


Clunking or knocking noises when turning, particularly at low speeds, can also indicate tie rod issues. Vibrations in the steering wheel or a noticeable wandering of the vehicle on the road are further symptoms. If any of these signs are present, it’s essential to have the tie rod inspected promptly, as continued neglect could lead to more severe problems and compromise vehicle safety.

What causes a tie rod to go bad?

What causes a tie rod to break or go bad? Tie rods can go bad due to normal wear and tear and harsh road conditions. Often times the cause of tie rod failure is the lack of lubrication. Road hazards like potholes, bumps in the road or hitting the curb too hard can shorten the life of tie rod ends.


One common cause is normal wear and tear over time, as the tie rod is constantly subjected to stress and movement during vehicle operation. Exposure to harsh environmental conditions such as extreme temperatures, road salt, and moisture can accelerate corrosion and degradation of the tie rod components. 


Impact from potholes, curbs, or other road hazards can also damage the tie rod, leading to misalignment or structural damage that compromises its integrity. Regular wear and tear from daily driving, especially in older vehicles, can lead to the deterioration of tie rod ends. 

How Long Do Tie Rods Last

Are tie rods expensive to fix?

The cost of replacing a tie rod depends on the type of vehicle, the parts’ scarcity, and the quality. The average cost ranges from $100 to $400. However, expect to pay more for luxury and high-end vehicles. It would be best if you always replaced tie rods in pairs. The cost of repairing or replacing a tie rod can vary depending on several factors, including the make and model of the vehicle, the extent of the damage, and labor costs. 


Generally, replacing a single tie rod end is relatively inexpensive, with parts typically ranging from $50 to $150 per tie rod end, depending on the vehicle. However, if both tie rod ends need to be replaced or if there are additional components that require attention, such as the inner tie rod or steering rack, the cost can increase significantly. Labor costs also play a significant role in the overall expense, with hourly rates varying depending on the location and the mechanic’s experience level. 


In some cases, DIY enthusiasts may opt to replace the tie rod themselves to save on labor costs, although this requires some mechanical aptitude and the proper tools. While tie rod replacement is a necessary and relatively common repair, it’s crucial not to ignore the issue, as a faulty tie rod can lead to more severe problems, including loss of steering control. Regular vehicle inspections and addressing any steering-related concerns promptly can help mitigate repair costs and ensure the safety and longevity of the vehicle.

Is it OK to replace just one tie rod?

Ideally, YES – if the concern is excessive wear. However, sometimes a ball joint which might be otherwise in good condition (that is, not worn) can be damaged as a result of an accident or impact. If the damage does not affect both tie rod ends, you can usually replace just one. Though a thorough inspection is advised. 


Since tie rod ends are critical components of the steering system that work in tandem to maintain proper alignment and control, replacing both ends helps ensure consistent handling and prevents potential issues down the road. Additionally, if one tie rod end has failed or is showing signs of wear, it is likely that the other tie rod end will also require replacement soon. 


By replacing both tie rod ends simultaneously, drivers can avoid the hassle and expense of having to address the same issue again in the near future. For optimal safety and performance, it’s advisable to replace both tie rods when one shows signs of wear or damage. This approach promotes balanced steering and alignment, contributing to a smoother driving experience and prolonging the lifespan of the vehicle’s steering components.

Can I drive with a bad tie rod?

You should avoid driving with a bad tie rod as it negatively impacts your control over the vehicle – placing you in significant danger. And, if you have a completely broken tie rod, you won’t have any steering control. Driving with a bad tie rod can be extremely dangerous and is not recommended. 


Tie rods are essential components of the steering system, responsible for connecting the steering rack to the steering knuckles. When a tie rod is worn or damaged, it can lead to a loss of steering control, causing the vehicle to veer unexpectedly or even become uncontrollable. This can pose a serious risk to both the driver and other road users, potentially resulting in accidents, injuries, or even fatalities. 


Therefore, if you suspect that you have a bad tie rod, it is crucial to have it inspected and repaired by a qualified mechanic as soon as possible to ensure the safety of yourself and others on the road.

How can I check my tie rods?

Shake the tie rod to test its movement. Reach underneath the car toward the exposed metal rod behind the wheel well. Pull it left and right to see how much it moves. It should stay relatively still. If it seems to sway a lot, then it needs to be replaced. Checking your tie rods for signs of wear or damage is relatively straightforward and can be done with a few simple steps. 


Start by lifting the front of the vehicle off the ground using a jack and securely supporting it with jack stands. Then, grasp the tire at the 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock positions and attempt to rock it back and forth. Excessive movement or play in the tire could indicate a worn or damaged tie rod. Next, inspect the tie rod boots for any tears, cracks, or leaks, as these can allow dirt and moisture to enter the tie rod assembly, leading to premature wear. 


Additionally, visually inspect the tie rod ends for any signs of looseness, corrosion, or damage. If you notice any abnormalities during these checks, it is advisable to have your tie rods inspected by a professional mechanic to determine if repairs or replacements are necessary.

Are tie rods easy to fix?

Tie rods are easy to replace. If you have alignment tools to re align your car. Fixing tie rods can vary in difficulty depending on the specific vehicle make and model, as well as the extent of the damage or wear. In some cases, replacing tie rods can be a relatively straightforward task that can be completed with basic hand tools and mechanical knowledge. 


However, in other instances, particularly if the tie rod assembly is corroded or seized, or if other steering components are also damaged, the repair process may be more complex and require specialized tools or equipment. Additionally, proper alignment of the steering system is crucial after tie rod replacement to ensure that the vehicle handles correctly and safely. 


Therefore, while some individuals may find tie rod repairs to be relatively easy, others may prefer to leave this task to professional mechanics who have the expertise and experience to perform the job correctly and efficiently.

What happens if you don’t fix tie rods?

In the worst case scenario when a tie rod completely fails, the wheel will break free of the steering assembly which then causes the vehicle to lose the ability to steer. At the first sign of any wear to the tie rods, steering is already at risk and the vehicle is not safe to drive. If tie rods are not promptly repaired when they become worn or damaged, it can lead to a range of serious consequences. 


One of the most immediate risks is a loss of steering control, as worn tie rods can cause the wheels to become misaligned or even separate entirely from the steering system. This can result in difficulty steering the vehicle, unpredictable handling, and potentially catastrophic accidents. 


Additionally, driving with bad tie rods can cause excessive tire wear, affecting the vehicle’s fuel efficiency and overall performance. Ignoring tie rod issues can also lead to damage to other steering components, such as the steering rack or suspension components, resulting in more extensive and costly repairs down the line. Therefore, it is essential to address any signs of tie rod wear or damage promptly to ensure the safety and integrity of the vehicle’s steering system.

How Long Do Tie Rods Last


The lifespan of tie rods can vary depending on several factors, including driving habits, road conditions, and maintenance practices. While tie rods are designed to be durable, they are not indestructible and will eventually wear out over time. Regular inspection and maintenance of the steering system, including checking for signs of wear on tie rod ends and boots, can help detect issues early and prevent potential failures. When signs of wear or damage are observed, prompt replacement of tie rods is essential to ensure safe and reliable vehicle operation. By staying proactive and attentive to the condition of tie rods, drivers can maximize their lifespan and maintain optimal steering performance for their vehicles.



Vaishnavi vaish

Vaishnavi is an automotive enthusiast and writer with a passion for all things cars. With years of experience in the automotive industry, Vaishnavi brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to Vroom's platform. Whether it's dissecting the latest car models, exploring industry trends, or delving into the intricacies of automotive technology, Vaishnavi is dedicated to providing readers with comprehensive and insightful content. From performance reviews to in-depth car comparisons, Vaishnavi strives to deliver accurate and engaging information to help readers make informed decisions about their next vehicle purchase. Explore the world of automobiles with Vaishnavi on Vroom and stay updated on the latest developments in the automotive world.

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