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Automotive Q & A

Tie Rods

Question: How do tie rods work?

Answer: Tie rods are an integral part of your vehicle’s steering. Just as its name suggests, a tie rod ties your vehicle’s steering rack to the steering arm. The steering arm is attached to the wheel. There are two types of steering systems: rack-and-pinion steering and re-circulating ball or mechanical steering. A rack-and-pinion steering system is a very simple operation. When you turn your steering wheel, a pinion gear, which is attached to your steering shaft, will roll along the steering rack. The steering rack, attached to both front wheels, will move according to how you turn your wheel. The tie rods are responsible for transmitting the force from the steering rack to the steering arm and moving the wheel. The re-circulating ball or mechanical steering system is a little bit more complex than the rack-and-pinion system. The mechanical system includes a gearbox. When you turn your wheel, your steering shaft will set several gears in motion that control the pitman arm. The pitman arm moves the steering rack according to how you steer. Again, like in the rack-and-pinion system, the steering rack is connected to the tie rods, which are connected to the steering arms. The tie rods are the connection from your steering system to your wheels. These two systems, however complex, contain a very simple, yet important part, the tie rod. Tie rods play a crucial role in your steering system. Without tie rods, your steering system would fail. Tie rods are the pivot point between your steering system and your steering arm and wheel. The outer tie rod end is adjustable. This means that you can change the length of the tie rod to fix your vehicle’s alignment. As you can see, the simple tie rods are very important. They are responsible for moving your wheels when you steer and for making turning possible.

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