The national cost for an outer tie rod end replacement with CarAdvise in 2024 is between $68 and $455 with an average of $216.

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HOW IT WORKS

What is a tie rod end and how does it work?

A tie rod end (sometimes referred to as an “outer tie rod end”) is a component of the steering system in a vehicle.

Your vehicle comes equipped with either a traditional steering gear box or a rack and pinion (a more common type of gearbox used on late model passenger vehicles) that is designed to transfer the movement of the steering wheel to the actual wheels on the ground.

When you turn the steering wheel, you are actually turning a shaft that reaches through the vehicle body. The steering shaft moves gears in the gearbox or the “steering rack” that, in turn, actuate a set of metal rods, the “tie rods”, to the left or right. A tie rod end is screwed onto the outermost part of each tie rod and connects the tie rod to the steering knuckle to which the wheel hub and wheel are bolted.

At the point at which a tie rod end connects to the steering knuckle is a ball-and-socket joint that accommodates the movement of the steering and suspension systems. Where it attaches to the tie rod, it is screwed on, making it adjustable so that a technician can adjust and align the wheels and tires.

HOW IS THIS SERVICE PERFORMED?

How is a an Outer Tie Rod End Replacement done?

It is common for a technician to replace both the left and right tie rod ends as a pair. In fact, it is generally recommended to do so. To replace a tie rod end, a technician must first raise and support your vehicle in the air for access. With the tire and wheel removed, the technician will carefully mark the location of the tie rod end on the tie rod (the length of the tie rod) so that the new component can be installed in the same position as the old one. From there, a technician will perform the following steps:

  • Loosen the lock nut on the tie rod
  • Remove the cotter pin from the tie rod end ball stud (if applicable)
  • Remove the castle nut or other retaining nut
  • Using a special tool, separate the tie rod end ball joint from the steering knuckle
  • Unthread the tie rod end from the tie rod
  • Screw the new tie rod end onto the tie rod
  • Reattach the tie rod end to the steering knuckle and torque to manufacturer’s specification
  • Insert grease into the tie rod end ball joint (if applicable)
  • Snug up the lock nut
  • Replace the wheel(s) and tire(s)
  • Perform a wheel alignment (in most cases)

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POPULAR VEHICLES

National average cost of a an Outer Tie Rod End Replacement
for popular vehicles:

Car Model

Avg. cost

$50

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COMMON SYMPTOMS

How do I know if my vehicle needs a new tie rod end?

Tie rods are susceptible to bending when a vehicle suffers an impact, such as with a pothole or a curb. Tie rod ends, on the other hand, are pretty sturdy and less prone to bending. The ball-and-socket joint on the tie rod end, however, is prone to damage and wear. If the protective rubber boot on the joint is cracked or ruptured, the grease that lubricates the joint can leak out or allow dirt and debris to enter. This leads to premature wear. A loose or broken joint in the tie rod end can result. When this happens, you might notice one or more of the following symptoms:

A clunking noise, especially when turning

Rough feel in the steering wheel when turning

Excess play in the steering wheel

Vibration while driving

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Other questions customers ask

Can you replace just one outer tie rod end?
While it is technically possible to replace a single tie rod end on a vehicle, it is not generally recommended. A common failure of a tie rod end is a worn out ball-and-socket joint, often caused by a lack of lubrication (leaking protective boot) or dirt in the joint. Since worn or damaged tie rod ends can lead to premature tire tread wear and a misaligned steering and suspension system, (or worse, a failed component and loss of steering), both sides should be replaced at the same time.
Can you drive with a broken outer tie rod end?
No. If an outer tie rod end is worn, it might be possible to drive your vehicle for a while. But then there is no telling when it will fail completely. If it is broken, you will be unable to steer your vehicle. The affected wheel and tire will not respond to the steering wheel. The same thing happens if a tie rod end breaks while you are driving.
Can a pothole damage the tie rod ends?
It is more common for the tie rod to become bent when you drive through a pothole than it is for the tie rod end to fail. In some cases, however, a bad run-in with a pothole can damage the ball-and-socket joint of the tie rod end and cause it to fail.

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