It’s safe to say that your car’s steering is one of those parts that you certainly don’t want to break. If the engine or the transmission is running poorly, at least you won’t be moving. But if the steering is faulty, then you’re likely going very, very fast… Without any way of turning the car or influencing its direction of travel. It’s for those reasons why even the tiniest anomalies and misbehaviors in the steering should be addressed. This then leads us to discuss more on tie rod replacement cost.
At the very least, you won’t be able to steer out of your driveway. Worst, the steering might fail completely as you’re trying to make a high-speed turn. As you can imagine, such a problem is deadly, not merely an inconvenience. The steering system in any vehicle is a complex machination filled with many moving components. Given how (relatively) small tie rods are, why should I bother with worrying about tie rod replacement cost? Well, here are some reasons why you should.
What Do You Need To Know About Tie Rods?
To gauge a better understanding of our tie rod replacement cost, we should first know what they are. As we highlighted thus far, they are one of the smaller – yet no less integral – parts of your car’s steering system. In most cars today, we commonly use something that is called a ‘rack and pinion‘ steering. Simply, this is a system where an enclosed tube connects both of the front wheels together. Within this enclosure, we find ourselves the steering ‘rack’; a long cylindrical rod.
The top of the rack has grooves for a gear track. This is where we get to the ‘pinion’ gear, which is then connected to the steering wheel. When you turn the steering wheel, the pinion gear spins. This then moves the steering rack left or right, which correlates to the wheels moving in either said direction. The function of the rack and pinion system works in two ways. Firstly, It converts the rotational motion of the steering wheel into linear motion to turn the actual wheels of the car.
Secondly, this gearing system reduces the amount of force required to turn the car. It makes it less of a chore compared to previous forms of steering a car. But… What connects the rack and pinion system to the wheels of your car? Well, between the rack and pinion steering and the wheels, there sits our friend, the tie rods. Whenever you turn the steering wheel, the tie rods are what actually pushes and pulls the wheels inwards or outwards to make it turn.
How Do The Tie Rods In Your Car Work?
For example, let’s imagine that you’re planning to turn your car to the left. If we look at it from above, your left wheels will be turned outwards, and your right wheels will be facing inwards. With this in mind, the rack and pinion system will slide the steering rack to put force on the left-hand side. The tie rods on your left, therefore, will take that force to push your left wheels outwards. Meanwhile, the tie rods on the right wheels will be forcing them inwards.
As you can imagine then, tie rods play an incredible important role in actually connecting your wheels to the steering wheel. Without it, you won’t be able to turn. As the name suggests, tie rods are rods that tie together two components. Not only in the automotive world, but tie rods also exist in other forms of life as well. This includes airplanes, construction, architecture, ships, and more. Technically speaking, each individual spoke of a bicycle wheel is a tie rod.
In a car, the tie rods will push against the steering knuckles in your wheels to turn them in the desired direction. The tie rod itself is made from two distinct components; the outer, and inner ends of the rod. There are a number of other important bits and pieces within the steering system that interconnects with the tie rods. This will be important to learn, as each one could wear out and fail, which necessitates the need for tie rod replacement cost.
1. Bearings (Or Ball Joints)
Sometimes referred to as ball joints, these bearings are found on both ends of the tie rods. These spherical bearings take in a lot of load and pressure. Moreover, it also works to balance out any vibrations felt while driving. It’s this that allows your car’s tie rods to keep working, even while driving over rough and bumpy terrain. Understandably then, the bearings (or ball joints) inside of your car’s tie rods undergo a lot of strain. This is a key cause for failure.
2. Bushings, And Plastic Or Rubber Dust Boots
You’ll be able to find plenty of rubber bushings, sleeves, and boots placed around the exposed parts of the tie rods. Mostly, this is on the outer tie rods. The role of the bushings is to shield the internals of the tie rods from debris or shock. Furthermore, it also prevents grit, grime, dust, or moisture that might build up inside of the tie rod assembly. As the tie rods sit on the outside of the steering system, the bushings take a lot of beating.
3. Grease Fittings
In order to make sure the tie rods’ bearings (or ball joints) can rotate with ease, grease is necessary to lubricate them. This is featured in the form of grease fittings. Filled with grease, they ensure as frictionless of movement as possible between the many moving and rotating parts of your car’s tie rods.
What’s Causing Your Tie Rods To Fail?
Now that we understand more of how to tie rods work, it’s a good time to head into why we’re discussing tie rod replacement cost in the first place. If tie rods are such important parts of your car and its steering, how could they possibly fail? Well, it’s all down to the fact that your car’s tie rods undergo a lot of stress every single time you drive. Thankfully, they are engineered and designed to last for a long time. In fact, some car owners have never needed to replace them, ever.
Whereas others have to think about tie rod replacement cost every few years or so. Why is that? It’s all down to how you drive your car. The rougher you drive your car, the faster it’ll wear out. For instance, going off-roading or taking your car down the race track all too often. There is also a matter of how much load – in other words, weight – you’re putting on your car. Heavier vehicles like trucks or SUVs can wear out their tie rods faster, simply because of their added mass.
There’s a bunch of other external factors that you can’t necessarily control. The surface of the road will have a big impact on the well-being of your car’s tie rods. Constantly driving over potholes, speedbumps, or poor road surfaces can wear down your tie rods faster than usual. The smaller bits around your tie rods could fail, which then leads to the whole assembly needing a replacement. For instance, the bushings could fail, which attracts moisture into the tie rods that lead to corrosion.
Can You Keep Driving A Car With Poor Tie Rods?
Now, we get to the question of whether you could ignore paying the dues of a tie rod replacement cost? Is it okay to just keep driving, even if you notice (more on that later) that your tie rods are faulty? In short, absolutely not! Although they are made to keep working for a long time, it’s worthwhile to pay attention every time you get your car serviced. Continually driving a car with a bad and failing tie rod will at the very least cost a lot of big repair bills down the line.
As we’ll learn more shortly, poorly tie rods can cause uneven wear on your tires. Those tires will inevitably need a replacement and rebalancing soon, which isn’t cheap. Moreover, the rest of your car’s steering and suspension will undergo a lot more stress now that the tie rods can’t work properly. If worse comes to worst, driving a car with bad tie rods could actually kill you, and anyone else in your car. Not to mention, other drivers around you will be put in harm’s way.
Remember, no tie rods mean you can’t steer. Think of what happens if it suddenly snaps when you’re driving at high speeds. You’ll no longer have any control over your car in the event that you need to make a turn or to avoid something. Even at low speeds, not being able to steer could get you into a very nasty accident. Therefore, you should never ever drive a car with poor tie rods. It’s for this reason why you should take notice if you feel any symptoms of potential tie rod failure.
What Are The Symptoms Of Tie Rod Replacement Cost That You Need To Know?
Speaking of, now is a good time to discuss more on the symptoms that leads us to think about tie rod replacement cost. We’ve learned so far that tie rods can kill you if and when they fail. But how can we know if they’re about to go wrong? How can we know if your car’s tie rods are on their way out before it becomes too late? The good news here is that there are at least a few easy ways to tell if your tie rods are acting up. It’s definitely worth memorizing these.
1. Vibration And Shaking From The Steering Wheel
One possible symptom that you’ll need to worry about tie rod replacement cost is unpleasant shaking or vibrations from the steering wheel. This is due to a “loose” tie rod. In other words, the tie rod(s) no longer form a solid connection between the wheels and the steering system. When this happens, you can readily feel vibrations or shaking from the wheel, as the connection is no longer solid. The vibrations and shaking worsen when you’re driving at speed or while cornering.
These vibrations might not just be felt from the steering wheel, however. You might also be able to feel the whole car vibrating from underneath you. This will relate more to another symptom that you might notice for faulty tie rods; uneven tread wear. As one side of your car’s tires are more worn than the other, it won’t drive as smoothly or evenly as before. These vibrations aren’t just discomforting, but it could cause the tie rods to wear out even faster and fail completely.
2. Loose Steering Wheel
An extension of the point we made above, if the tie rods are no longer holding firm, the steering can feel a bit loose. What this means is that as you’re turning the steering wheel, it feels as though there’s excessive play. You turn the (steering) wheel a lot either left or right, and it appears as though the car is barely turning at all. There’s a significant lack of feedback and input. This looseness is an easy sign that something’s amiss inside your car’s steering, likely the tie rods.
3. Odd Sounds When Turning
Tie rod failure can manifest its presence in the form of audio cues, as well. You might be able to hear clunking, squeaking, or squealing sounds as you’re turning the wheel. This is often a sign that there’s some metal-on-metal contact on your car. The only problem is trying to pinpoint where it’s coming from. If this happens while you’re turning, it may be due to a faulty tie rod. The main cause of this noise is likely a loss of lubrication caused by a cracked rubber boot or grease fitting.
4. Car Veering Left Or Right While Driving
The tie rods not only maintain our car’s steering, but also its alignment. If the tie rods are nearing the end of their usable lifespan, it can loosen the alignment of your car’s front end. When this happens, you might suddenly notice that your car is veering off to the left or right on its own, even though you’re pointing straight ahead. To test this, point your car dead straight, and then let go of the steering wheel. If it moves elsewhere other than straight-wards, then it could be a faulty tie rod.
5. Uneven Tyre Treadwear
Your car’s tires will naturally degrade and wear out its tires after some time. This is normal. But what is not normal is seeing one tire wear out faster than the other. For instance, the front left tire might appear balder than the front right tire. Often, you’ll find that the treadwear occurs more along the inner or outer edges of the tire, more so than the large contact patch in the middle. If you’re experiencing it, then there is definitely something wrong with your suspension or steering.
How Much Do You Need To Pay For A Tie Rod Replacement Cost?
Next up, we can get into discussing the most difficult topic of our guide here today; how much does a tie rod replacement cost? At this point, it ought to be stressed that we can’t entirely give you an exact pricing on how much it’s going to cost. Mainly, there is one important variable that we don’t know; your car. What makes and models your vehicle is will determine more precisely how much you’re going to have to pay for a tie rod replacement cost.
Heavy-duty, higher performant, or vehicles from luxury brands will almost immediately cost more to replace faulty tie rods. Then, we also have to consider where you’re going to send it to. While dealerships will claim that they offer you OEM parts straight from the manufacturer, they also charge higher repair bills than independent workshops. However, there are thankfully some easy ways in which you can easily find fairly accurate estimates for your particular vehicle.
In the case of tie rods replacements, you can visit sites such as YourMechanic, Auto Repair Compare, AAA, Kelley Blue Book, RepairPal, Wrench, WhoCanFixMyCar, ClickMechanic, OpenBay, RepairSmith, and more. All you need to do is input your car’s make and model, or sometimes just a registration plate. From there, you’ll get quotes for tie rod replacement costs from the many workshops in your local area. That said, it doesn’t mean we can’t help you out here.
Tie Rod Replacement Cost Breakdown
In the grand scheme of automotive repairs, tie rods are not the most expensive repair that you’ll have to pay for. One significant advantage of having a poorly component that is rather exposed out of the car means that it’s easier to take apart. In the end, the less time mechanics have to spend on removing the old, and fitting in new tie rods, the less you’ll have to spend on labor costs. On average, the total tie rod replacement cost (parts and labor) is somewhere between $100 to $350.
Once again, this is a very wide margin. It all depends on how much needs to be done, and what vehicle you have. For example, you can find individual tie rods for as little as $20. Or, they might be sold as a package combining the inner and outer rods into a single assembly, which might cost upwards of $150. There’s also the consideration that you need to make when it comes to other repairs that should be done as a result of the effect that those tie rods can have elsewhere.
For example, your steering rack might require realignment. In this case, you might find that the complete tie rod replacement cost could balloon above $400. Once again, this isn’t as significant as other repairs. One thing many people have wondered is whether it’s possible to save money on replacing just one tie rod instead of doing so on both tires. This isn’t recommended, as it’s very likely that just one worn-out tie rod could wear out the other side, as well.
Examples Of Tie Rod Replacement Cost
While you might be reeling from this fact, just know that tie rod replacements are among the least expensive repair bills that you could expect when it comes to steering repair. Combined with the knowledge that bad tie rods could be deadly, it’s definitely worth the spend if you need to. Besides, you need to consider the fact that continually running with faulty tie rods can also prematurely wear out or damage the rest of your car’s steering (and the suspension).
Tie rods can cost you from sometimes less than $80 to just over $400. But that’s peanuts compared to how much it costs to replace your car’s entire steering rack. For that, you’ll need to cash out at least $1,000, and you’re very possibly going to end up stuck with a bill of around $2,000 or more. Just so we could possibly comfort you, we’ve scoured the internet to find some examples of the tie rod replacement cost on some of the most popular vehicles on sale today.
- Ford F-Series – $80 to $100
- Chevrolet Silverado – $90 to $190
- Honda CR-V – $110 to $200
- Ford Focus – $60 to $160
- Ford Fusion – $60 to $170
- Nissan Altima – $100 to $140
- Honda Civic – $360 to $490
- Honda Accord – $130 to $210
- Toyota Corolla – $170 to $230
- Toyota Camry – $90 to $130
Tie Rod Replacement Cost – Conclusion
If you’re keen to save on having to pay big dollar for a tie rod replacement cost, you might try doing this at home. It’s among the simpler automotive repairs that you can manage DIY-style. Although, given that you’re fixing your car’s complex steering, we’ll only recommend this to someone who’s a bit more mechanically handy. Otherwise, the invoice you’re going to get from the local mechanic isn’t too bad, all things considered. For how important they are, tie rods are decently affordable.
For most people, it’s best to try and avoid having to pay for a tie rod replacement cost in the first place. Tie rods, as simple as they are, have been meticulously developed to almost last the car’s entire lifetime. If you treat them well, you might never have to worry about your car’s tie rods. They work ever so quietly, reliably, and comfortably in the background. But when they do need replacing, don’t ever put off a fix. It’s a hundred dollars, or your life; pick and choose.