The national cost for a tie rod replacement with CarAdvise in 2024 is between $80 and $455 with an average of $184.

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What is a tie rod and how does it work?

A tie rod 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 to the left or right.

The arrangement of these rods depends on the type of gearbox used. For instance, connected to a gearbox is a lever called a Pitman arm. The Pitman arm moves back and forth to actuate a long center link (or “drag link”). Attached to the ends of the drag link are the inner and outer tie rod ends.

With a rack and pinion system, the inner and outer tie rod ends are attached directly to the steering rack.

In either case, each tie rod is connected at the outer end to the steering knuckle to which the wheel hub and wheel are bolted.


How is a a Tie Rod Replacement done?

The procedure to replace a tie rod 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.

It is common for a technician to replace both the left and right tie rods as a pair. In fact, it is generally recommended to do so. To replace a tie rod, 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
  • Remove the protective boot on the end of the steering rack
  • Unscrew the tie rod from the steering rack and install the new tie rod
  • Reinstall the protective boot with a new boot clamp
  • Reattach the tie rod end to the steering knuckle and torque to manufacturer’s specification
  • Replace the wheel(s) and tire(s)
  • Perform a wheel alignment to adjust the new tie rod(s)

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National average cost of a a Tie Rod Replacement
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How do I know if my vehicle needs a new tie rod?

Because the tie rods are a direct link between the steering gear box or steering rack, they are essential to the safe operation of your vehicle. Wear and tear over time and the effects of corrosion can cause a tie rod to fail. Tie rods are also susceptible to bending when a vehicle suffers an impact, such as with a pothole or a curb. While some of the signs of a bad tie rod are really problems with the ball and socket of the outer tie rod end, there are symptoms related to the tie rod itself. These include the following:

Your vehicle pulls to one side when driving

The steering wheel is not centered properly

You hear strange sounds when you turn the steering wheel

You feel vibrations, clicks, or pops in the steering wheel

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Other questions customers ask

Can you drive with a broken tie rod?
If a tie rod is broken, you will be unable to drive your vehicle. That is because the tie rod is the direct link between the steering gear and the wheel. With a broken tie rod, the wheel will turn freely on its own, unable to respond to the steering wheel. If, on the other hand, a tie rod end is worn out, you might be able to drive for a short period. But in that case, it is possible that the component could fail completely without warning. Therefore, it is recommended to have tie rods replaced as soon as possible when they are worn.
Do you need an alignment after replacing tie rods?
In some cases, it might be possible for a technician to install a new set of tie rods in such a way that the wheel alignment settings are duplicated exactly. That is not usually the case, however. In most cases, it is necessary to perform a wheel alignment after tie rod replacement to ensure that the steering and suspension systems are within manufacturer’s specifications.
Are tie rods easy to replace?
Tie rod replacement is not particularly complex. But that is not to say it is easy. The components are often corroded and difficult to service. The inner tie rod ends can be challenging to remove from the steering rack. And special care must be exercised when separating the outer tie rod from the steering knuckle. It is often (usually) necessary to perform a wheel alignment after the tie rods have been replaced as well.

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