The Average Cost for Replacing an Inner Tie Rod Is $99-$211 Depending on If You Go to the Mechanic or DIY.
This price range is based on national averages for all vehicles and does not factor in taxes, fees, or your particular make and model. For a more accurate estimate based on your make, model, and location, use the RepairPal Fair Price Estimator.
Cost at the Mechanic: $149-$211
Having your inner tie rods replaced generally takes anywhere from one to three hours at the mechanic’s shop. Having a lift makes accessing the steering mechanism underneath the car much easier than for a home DIYer. A special tool is required to remove the inner tie rod ends. Any mechanic will already have one. Finally, a wheel alignment may be required afterward, which is another task that requires equipment that only a shop will have. For all these reasons, replacing an inner tie rod is probably best left to the professionals.
Cost to DIY: $99-$148
- Difficulty Level: Advanced
- Parts Needed:
- New inner tie rods
- Torque wrench
- Grease gun
- Socket wrench set
- Inner tie rod tool
- Needle-nose pliers
- Jack stands
It will likely take longer to do this job in your driveway or garage than it will take a shop since a shop has much easier access underneath the vehicle. Unless you already own an inner tie rod tool, you must factor in the cost of this tool along with the parts you will need. If you are extremely careful, it might be possible to avoid needing an alignment afterward by counting exactly how many turns it takes to unscrew the outer tie rod from the inner one, then turning it exactly that many times when installing it on the replacement. This still may not get your alignment perfect, though, resulting in excessive tire wear and undesired handling characteristics.
While the work itself is fairly straightforward, between the specialized equipment required and the precision necessary to ensure a good alignment, we recommend letting a shop handle this job.
What Is an Inner Tie Rod?
Tie rods are important parts of your vehicle’s steering system. They connect your steering rack to the hubs, enabling the vehicle to steer left and right. Tie rods also set the “toe” portion of your wheel alignment, making sure that your front wheels point straight down the road. Every vehicle has two tie rods, one on each side of the car, connected to the left and right wheels.
Tie rods have an inner and outer section. The inner tie rod is threaded, and the outer tie rod screws onto it like a nut onto a bolt. This is what allows the toe adjustment in your alignment. When the outer tie rod is set to precisely the right place, a nut or some other hardware locks it in place so that it can’t change until the next time it’s adjusted, or when parts are replaced as in this job.
What Does an Inner Tie Rod Replacement Include?
The mechanic will put your car on a lift, remove the front wheels, and lift up the car. The outer tie rod will then be removed, then the rubber boot protecting the joint on the inner tie rod. A special tool is required to remove the inner tie rod from the steering rack. The new inner tie rod is installed, along with a new boot. If the outer tie rod is still good, it gets reinstalled. Otherwise, it’s replaced with a new one. A good mechanic may be able to mark and preserve your previous alignment settings, but sometimes a new wheel alignment service is required to make sure it’s correct.
What Happens If You Don’t Replace Your Inner Tie Rod?
The tie rods, inner and outer, take a great deal of abuse as your can bounces down bumpy roads. They can get bent and wear out over time. This is particularly true in northern areas, where components under the car are exposed to salty roads in winter and rust. Careless driving into curbs can also bend or otherwise damage a tie rod.
All of these factors weaken the tie rod, compromising its ability to safely steer your car. As it gets weaker, it begins to bend and flex more, which accelerates how quickly it wears out. If not addressed, eventually the tie rod will break, disconnecting the hub and wheel from the steering mechanism. This will leave you unable to steer at all, a very dangerous situation that will also cause damage to other components. This is why it’s important for you to address damaged parts as soon as you can, for the sake of both your wallet and your safety.
How Often To Replace Your Inner Tie Rod
There is no recommended time interval for replacing your inner tie rods. A good tie rod should last for many years, but unusual situations can cause them to wear out faster or get damaged. If you get into a wreck, for instance, you should have your inner tie rods checked to make sure they’re still up to the task. If you live in an area that performs regular safety inspections, one of the items they check is the tie rods. If they’re not up to snuff, your car will fail inspection, requiring you to replace one or more tie rods before your car can legally get back on the road.
Common Symptoms You Need to Replace Your Inner Tie Rod
If you think that your vehicle issues might be caused by bad inner tie rods, see if any of these symptoms apply to you:
- You can hear grinding metal, popping, or clicking sounds when you’re turning the steering wheel
- You can feel vibrations in the steering wheel
- One wheel doesn’t turn at all
- Your tires are wearing out quickly or unevenly, indicating a bad alignment
Some of these symptoms are warnings. Some are downright dangerous. As soon as you notice any of these symptoms, take your vehicle to a mechanic immediately or even have it towed.
Related Maintenance Services
The following services are commonly performed with inner tie rod replacements:
- Wheel alignment
- Outer tie rod replacement
- Tire rotations
- State safety inspections
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