Signs That Your Vehicle's Tie Rods Are Going Bad - Service Information at Hanson Subaru

The steering and suspension system on your car is one of its most important and complex. The tie rods are a critical component of this system. A tie rod connects to both of your front wheels and enables steering. When they're in good shape, they give you smooth, responsive steering. Tie rods have two basic parts: the inner tie rod and the outer tie rod or the tie rod end.


As they wear out, your handling will degrade and you may even start to feel stray vibrations and hear disquieting clunking noises. Here are six signs that you may experience on your car if your tie rods are going out. To get quality new tie rods installed on your car, head to an authorized Subaru service center like ours at Hanson Subaru.

These new tie rods are ready to be installed to restore steering feel and stability 

6. You Recently Hit A Pothole, Curb Or Other Obstruction

While your tie rods can certainly go bad over time from just ordinary wear and tear, a severe strike on a curb or pothole could do damage to your vehicle's tie rods. If you hit something and find your car has developed a new shake in the steering wheel, noises when turning or other below symptoms, head to Hanson Subaru right away. You can typically continue to drive your vehicle on a worn tie rod, but if it fails completely, you'll lose steering control and will likely need a tow to get you back home or to our service center for a repair.

Worn out tie rods and the poor alignment they can cause will make your tires wear out much quicker than necessary 

5. Uneven Tire Wear

When everything in your suspension and steering systems are set up properly, it spreads out the weight of the vehicle across the entire contact surface of all four tires. This means that the wear is spread across the entire tire, so your tires last longer. When your tie rods go bad, your alignment will suffer and the tires may begin to wear unevenly -- meaning you'll have to cough up for new tires sooner.

4. Poor Vehicle Alignment

Increased tire wear is directly related to bad alignment on your car. The tie rods help your vehicle to steer and track straight when your steering wheel is centered. Bad tie rods will allow the wheels to come out of alignment. Bad alignment can make your steering wheel shake, can make your car "pull" to one side and force you to make minute corrections to your steering constantly -- leading to a fatiguing drive. If you suspect your alignment is off, head to Hanson Subaru to get an alignment check. If your alignment is off, we can adjust it and replace faulty components like worn out tie rods so your car tracks straight and your tires last as long as possible.

As your tie rods develop rust and suffer wear, they'll start to come loose and need to be replaced 

3. Unresponsive Steering

One of the hallmarks of a quality vehicle like a new Subaru is tight, responsive steering. Worn tie rods can make your steering wheel feel loose and cause degraded handling performance. You may also experience excessive "play" in the wheel and a much bigger deadzone where you can turn the wheel slightly before the car actually begins to turn. While this problem can be caused by other steering or suspension issues, bad tie rods are a common cause of unresponsive steering.

2. Clunking Noises & Shaking

When your tie rods go bad, the symptom you're most likely to experience first is a vibration or shaking sensation in your steering wheel. You may also hear associated clunking and rattling noises, especially when turning the vehicle at low speeds. These sounds are caused by tie rods that are starting to wear out. As they wear, they can start to come loose and rattle around at the joints and linkages. If the rubber boot that protects the tie rod's lubricated joint gets torn, sand and dirt will begin to make their way into the joint, displacing the lubricant and leading to a grinding sensation when you steer. These symptoms are a sure sign that it's time to have your tie rods inspected and probably replaced.

1. Wheel Feels Loose When Car Is Jacked Up

If you're not sure if you have bad tie rods and you've got a little bit of time and some tools, you can perform a quick and easy test of your vehicle's tie rods right in your driveway! All you'll need is a jack. Just lift the front end of your car up in the air, and grab the front tire with your hands. Place your hands at 3 and 9 o'clock and shake the wheel side to side. Then, put your hands at 6 and 12 o'clock and shake the wheel up and down. Perform this test on both front wheels. If all is as it should be, you shouldn't be able to move the wheels at all except to rotate them. But, if one or both wheels shifts a little bit and/or makes a clicking noise as you move it around, that tells us that your tie rods or other related components are wearing out and need to be replaced.

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Hanson Subaru

2300 Carriage Loop SW
Directions Olympia, WA 98502

  • Call or Text Sales: 360-943-2120
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