Car Parts

What Is A Outer Tie Rod


What Is A Outer Tie Rod: The automotive world is a complex network of interconnected components, each playing a crucial role in the performance and safety of a vehicle. Among these components, the outer tie rod stands as a vital link between steering and stability. Understanding its function and importance is paramount for both enthusiasts and everyday drivers alike.


An outer tie rod is a critical part of a vehicle’s steering system, connecting the steering knuckle to the steering rack or center link. This linkage enables the transfer of steering input from the driver to the wheels, facilitating directional control and maneuverability. While often overlooked, the outer tie rod plays a pivotal role in maintaining proper alignment and ensuring smooth, responsive handling on the road.


Beyond its fundamental role in steering, the outer tie rod also contributes significantly to the safety of the vehicle. By establishing a secure connection between the steering mechanism and the wheels, it helps to minimize play and instability, reducing the risk of accidents and promoting overall driver confidence.

What Is A Outer Tie Rod

What happens when outer tie rod fails?

If a tie rod becomes damaged and fails, the effects can range from mild (premature tire wear) to extreme (loss of vehicle control). Read on to learn the symptoms of a failing tie rod end. A damaged tie rod can cause uneven or excessive tire wear.

Signs of Outer Tie Rod Failure

When an outer tie rod fails, several warning signs become evident. One of the most noticeable symptoms is excessive play or looseness in the steering wheel. This can manifest as a noticeable vibration or a wandering feeling while driving, making it challenging to maintain a straight line. Additionally, you may hear clunking or knocking noises coming from the front end of the vehicle, especially when turning or going over bumps. Uneven tire wear is another common indicator, as the misalignment caused by a failed outer tie rod can lead to abnormal tire tread patterns.

Potential Dangers of Outer Tie Rod Failure

The consequences of a failed outer tie rod can be severe and potentially dangerous. Loss of steering control is a significant risk, as the tie rod plays a crucial role in connecting the steering rack to the wheel assembly. Without proper functioning tie rods, steering response becomes unpredictable, increasing the likelihood of accidents, especially during emergency maneuvers or at high speeds. Moreover, continued driving with a failed outer tie rod can cause additional damage to other suspension components, leading to more extensive and costly repairs. Regular inspection and maintenance of tie rods are essential for ensuring safe and reliable vehicle operation.

What is the difference between inner tie rod and outer tie rod?

An outer tie rod end is connected to each front wheel spindle, and an inner tie rod end is connected to the steering rack or steering gear box assembly.

Inner Tie Rod

The inner tie rod is an essential component of a vehicle’s steering system, connecting the rack and pinion or steering gearbox to the outer tie rod. It is located inside the rack and pinion housing or steering gearbox and is responsible for transmitting steering input from the driver to the wheels. The inner tie rod is typically a threaded rod with a ball joint at one end, allowing it to pivot and articulate with the movement of the steering rack.

Outer Tie Rod

On the other hand, the outer tie rod connects the inner tie rod to the steering knuckle, which is attached to the wheel hub assembly. Its primary function is to transfer the steering movement from the inner tie rod to the steering knuckle, thereby allowing the wheels to turn left or right in response to steering input. The outer tie rod is also equipped with a ball joint at one end, allowing it to pivot and articulate as the wheels move and the suspension compresses and rebounds.

How much does it cost to replace outer tie rod?

The cost of replacing a tie rod varies depending on the type of vehicle, accessibility of the parts, and quality. All the same, expect to spend between $100 and $400 for a tie rod replacement.

Cost Factors for Outer Tie Rod Replacement

Several factors influence the cost of replacing outer tie rods. Firstly, the type of vehicle plays a significant role, with larger or more complex vehicles often requiring more expensive parts and labor. Additionally, the brand and quality of the replacement parts can vary in price, impacting the overall cost. Furthermore, labor costs vary depending on the mechanic’s expertise, location, and shop rates.

Average Cost Breakdown

On average, the cost to replace an outer tie rod ranges from $150 to $350 per side. This estimate typically includes the price of the tie rod itself, which can range from $30 to $100, and the labor costs, which can vary between $100 to $250 per hour. However, prices may fluctuate depending on the vehicle’s make and model, the extent of damage, and additional repairs needed. Additionally, it’s advisable to get multiple quotes from different mechanics to ensure a fair price.

Can I drive with a bad outer tie rod?

It’s impossible, you cannot drive a car with a broken tie rod. The tie rod ties the two front wheels together so that they steer in the same direction. A broken tie rod would allow one of the two front wheels to go wherever it wants to.

Understanding the Issue

When faced with a bad outer tie rod, driving becomes hazardous. The outer tie rod connects the steering rack to the steering knuckle, allowing you to control the direction of your vehicle. When it fails, your ability to steer effectively is compromised, leading to erratic handling and potentially dangerous situations. You may notice excessive play in the steering wheel, uneven tire wear, or a knocking noise when turning. Ignoring these signs can result in loss of control while driving, posing a significant risk to yourself and others on the road.

Risks and Precautions

Continuing to drive with a bad outer tie rod can lead to further damage to your vehicle and increase the likelihood of an accident. The compromised steering can cause sudden loss of control, especially during maneuvers such as turning or braking. It’s crucial to address the issue promptly by having the tie rod replaced by a qualified mechanic. Driving at reduced speeds and avoiding sharp turns can mitigate the risk temporarily, but it’s not a long-term solution. Putting off repairs can escalate the problem and lead to more extensive damage and costly repairs down the line.

What Is A Outer Tie Rod

Can I drive with broken tie rod?

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.

Risks of Driving with a Broken Tie Rod

Driving with a broken tie rod poses severe risks to both you and other road users. A broken tie rod affects steering control, leading to unpredictable handling and potential loss of control over the vehicle. This increases the likelihood of accidents, especially during turns or sudden maneuvers. Moreover, a broken tie rod can cause uneven tire wear and alignment issues, further compromising vehicle safety and performance. Ignoring this issue may lead to more extensive damage to the steering system, resulting in costly repairs.

Consequences of Ignoring a Broken Tie Rod

Continuing to drive with a broken tie rod can have dire consequences. The compromised steering control increases the risk of accidents, potentially causing injuries or fatalities. Additionally, driving with a broken tie rod puts excessive stress on other components of the steering system, such as the steering rack and suspension components, accelerating wear and tear. This can lead to more extensive and expensive repairs in the long run. It’s essential to address a broken tie rod promptly to ensure the safety of yourself and others on the road.


How long do outer tie rods last?

They should be checked at every scheduled maintenance. If a fault is found, it should be repaired. Most tie rods on modern cars should last well over 100,000 miles unless the vehicle is used exceptionally hard or has suffered front end damage.

Factors Affecting Outer Tie Rod Lifespan

Outer tie rods, critical components of a vehicle’s steering system, typically last between 70,000 to 100,000 miles. However, several factors influence their longevity. Driving conditions play a significant role; rough roads, potholes, and harsh weather can accelerate wear and tear. Additionally, aggressive driving habits like frequent cornering or hitting curbs can strain tie rods, shortening their lifespan. Regular maintenance, including lubrication and inspections, can help detect issues early and prolong their durability.

Signs of Wear and Replacement

Recognizing signs of wear is crucial for timely replacement. Symptoms such as excessive play in the steering wheel, uneven tire wear, or clunking noises when turning indicate potential tie rod failure. Ignoring these warnings can lead to loss of steering control and jeopardize safety. Mechanics typically recommend replacing outer tie rods in pairs to ensure balanced steering performance. Regularly inspecting and maintaining tie rods can extend their lifespan and prevent costly repairs down the road.

How do you test an outer tie rod?

Test the outer tie rod by jacking your car and then gripping the rubber of your tire. If it moves when you push in your left and right hands, it’s likely bad.

Visual Inspection

To test an outer tie rod visually, first, lift the vehicle with a jack and securely support it on jack stands. Then, inspect the tie rod for any signs of damage, such as bends, cracks, or excessive wear on the ball joint. Check for any play in the joint by grabbing the tie rod and attempting to move it side to side or up and down. Excessive movement indicates wear and requires replacement. Additionally, inspect the rubber boot covering the joint for tears or leaks, as these can lead to contamination and premature failure.

Physical Test

Perform a physical test by turning the steering wheel while observing the outer tie rod joint. Any unusual noises, such as clicking or popping, may indicate worn or damaged components. Additionally, have an assistant turn the wheel while you visually inspect the joint for excessive movement. A worn outer tie rod may exhibit erratic steering or uneven tire wear. Finally, ensure the tie rod is properly torqued according to manufacturer specifications after any adjustments or replacements to maintain steering stability and safety.

Should I replace both inner and outer tie rods?

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.

Inner Tie Rod Replacement

When considering whether to replace both inner and outer tie rods, it’s essential to assess their condition individually. Inner tie rods connect the steering rack to the outer tie rods, providing crucial steering control. If there’s noticeable play or excessive movement in the inner tie rods, it’s wise to replace them to ensure optimal steering responsiveness and safety. Moreover, replacing both inner tie rods simultaneously can save time and prevent potential future issues, especially if one is worn, as the other may not be far behind.

Outer Tie Rod Replacement

Outer tie rods are equally vital components for steering stability, connecting the steering knuckle to the rack. If there are signs of wear such as loose steering or uneven tire wear, replacing both inner and outer tie rods can restore proper alignment and handling. Additionally, if the outer tie rods exhibit significant damage or play, it’s advisable to replace them together to maintain steering precision and prevent premature failure. Regular inspection and proactive maintenance of both inner and outer tie rods can prolong the lifespan of your vehicle’s steering system and enhance driving safety.

What Is A Outer Tie Rod


The outer tie rod is an essential component of a vehicle’s steering system, playing a crucial role in connecting the steering knuckle to the steering rack. Its primary function is to transmit the driver’s steering input from the steering wheel to the wheels, allowing for smooth and controlled maneuverability of the vehicle. As a critical link between the steering system and the wheels, the outer tie rod ensures proper alignment and stability, contributing to safe driving conditions.


Understanding the outer tie rod’s significance underscores the importance of regular inspection and maintenance to ensure optimal performance and safety on the road. Any signs of wear or damage to the outer tie rod should be addressed promptly to prevent potential steering issues and maintain vehicle stability.


In essence, the outer tie rod may seem like a small component, but its role in the steering mechanism is pivotal. By maintaining its integrity and functionality, drivers can enjoy a smoother and safer driving experience, confident in the responsiveness and control of their vehicle.

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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