Steering looseness is one of the most common problems of automobile owners. The common causes of the said problem include worn tie rod ends, worn idler arms, damaged center links (for vehicles without rack and pinion steering), and tatty steering gears or racks. Among these causes, the most overlooked is the problem on worn tie rod ends.
People, most of the time, ignore steering looseness. Unfortunately, they realize the importance of solving it when they experience the wrath of their carelessness and lack of foresight. Normally, the steering wheel should have no greater than a quarter inch of play. More than that would mean something is worn or loose and it needs some fixing.
To remedy the problem, others would put off. According to experts, this should not be done because the failure of a vital auto component could result to loss of steering control. Both the inner and the outer tie rod ends should have no detectable looseness. A worn or loose tie rod end is especially perilous. It does not only result to rapid tire wear but it could cost you a fortune. Or worst, it could take lives.
If your vehicle has a lot of miles on it, the steering rack or gear may be worn. There is usually an adjustment screw found on conventional steering boxes. The screw could be utilized to take some of the slack out of the system. If the vehicle has rack and pinion steering, adjustment is of little help for the reason that the rack develops center wear. The only solution is for the center wear to have a replacement of the entire rack assembly. Sometimes, the steering of the vehicle will feel loose because of a tatty U-joint coupling in the steering column. Another worth noting cause is worn wheel bearings.
A loose or worn tie rod end results to a feathered wear pattern on the front tires. To detect it, car owners should raise the front of the vehicle off the ground and shake the front wheel back and forth. If you sense a free play, there is something wrong with the tie rod end and it needs immediate replacement.
If you are using a Ford vehicle, its tie rod has typically a tie rod end on both ends. The end Ford rod tie is used to link the steering rack with the front wheel hub. It also has a threaded adjusting sleeve that allows the length of the tie rod to be adjusted. The adjustment is intended for the alignment of the toe. A worn Ford tie rod end could cause excessive tire wear.
What does a NHTSA Ford tie rod end have to do with the vehicle handling? When a vehicle owner intends a performance Mustang or Focus SVT, he will be using the best shocks, bushings, and springs. However, if the Ford tie rod used is out of spec, good handling could never be had. This means that end Ford rod tie should be replaced first before one could move on to more intricate upgrades. Basically, Ford tie rod end tightens the steering feel.