An inner tie rod end is a component of the steering system in a vehicle, the inner portion of the tie rod assembly.
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.
Whereas the outer tie rod end is connected to the steering knuckle to which the wheel hub and wheel are bolted, the inner tie rod end is connected directly to the steering rack. In the case of a vehicle with a traditional gearbox, the inner tie rod end is fastened to the center link (“drag link”) that is, in turn, connected to the Pitman arm on the gearbox.
The relationship between the inner and outer tie rod ends allows for adjustments to the steering system.
While outer tie rod ends tend to be more susceptible to wear and tear than inner tie rod ends (especially when it comes to rack and pinion steering systems), it is possible for the inner tie rod end to fail. That is usually the result of an impact, such as with a pothole or a curb. Signs of a bad inner tie rod end include:
The procedure to replace an inner tie rod end depends on the type of steering system used in your vehicle. Since the rack and pinion system is most commonly found in late model passenger vehicles, this description relates to the tie rods used with a steering rack, where both the inner and outer tie rod ends comprise the tie rod assembly.
To replace an inner 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 outer tie rod end on the inner 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: