Top 4 Signs Of Bad Tie Rod Or Ball Joint

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What are the signs of bad tie rod or ball joint? A bad tie rod will cause serious vibrations, loud clunking noises, and possibly lead to a fatal breakdown.

Not everyone knows about the tie rod or ball joint in a car; what most drivers know is the axle, driveshaft, and other components in the engine bay.

Regardless, tie rods are an important component in any vehicle; they have an inner end and an outer end – just like CV joints.

The tie rod connects to the steering rack or center link and contributes to making the wheels turn. Thus, when your vehicle’s tie rod fails at one end, the car may start to show different unusual signs.

However, before your tie rod would get so bad to the point of breakage or failure, it must have given you some signs.

Now, let’s quickly look at some of the symptoms of a failing ball joint or tie rod!

What’s The Relationship Between Tie Rods and Ball Joints?

Signs Of Bad Tie Rod Or Ball Joint

You’d find both the ball joints and tie rods between the front wheels of every vehicle. They are part of the steering system, which spans from one front wheel to the other.

The steering system works hand in hand with the suspension system, but they are two different systems entirely.

Actually, ball joints and tie rods are not connected together; instead, they are both connected to the “Spindle.”

While the ball joints connect to the top and bottom of the spindle, the tie rod controls the spindle’s pivot; thus, causing the wheels to move as you steer.

Signs Of Bad Tie Rod Or Ball Joint

You’d possibly notice any of these signs when your tie rod or a ball joint is failing.

But, it is important to note that other things could cause these signs too; hence, you should troubleshoot and find the exact cause of the symptoms before proceeding to visit a repair workshop.

1. Difficult Steering

Whether it is the tie rod that got bad or the ball joint, one of the signs you’d notice is difficulty in steering.

This happens because the tie rod and ball joint are engaged whenever you steer your wheels; so, if they are no longer functional, it becomes difficult to get your wheels to move.

However, it is important to say that a failing axle or bad driveshaft is possible to make your steering malfunction.

2. Tire Wear

Any issue with your vehicle’s suspension system can cause your front tires to go out of alignment. Apparently, poor alignment can cause uneven tire wear, and worn-out tires can cause instabilities while driving.

How does the tire rod or ball joint affect your tires?

They are connected to the suspension system and your car tires are also connected to this system; thus, when any of them fails, the suspension system will push more pressure to your tires and thus, cause them to wear.

3. Knocking or Clunking Sounds

One of the signs of worn or loose ball joints is a faint clunking noise. Usually, this noise comes from beneath your car.

When you start hearing some unusual sounds coming from one corner of your vehicle, it is advisable to check the ball joints and tie rod.

4. Your Wheel Go Out Of Alignment

Because the tie rod and ball joints are somehow connected to the wheels, when any of them goes bad, your vehicle wheels are likely to go out of alignment.

So, when you notice that your car keeps going out of your lane as you drive, it could be a sign of a failing tie rod or ball joint.


You don’t need to wait to see all these signs before acting, when you notice any of them, make sure you verify its cause.

Summarily, while the tie rod and ball joints are not the same; they both function similarly and typically fail at the same time.

Hopefully, this article clearly explains the various signs of bad tie rod or ball joint. It is advisable to have a professional mechanic fix your car when you’re facing a damaged tie rod or ball joint issue.

Interestingly, changing these components is not too costly and it’s something that could be completed in a matter of hours.

Always stick to a maintenance routine, it helps to detect issues earlier and saves you from fatal damages that would cost you more money.

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