Steering: Inner Tie Rod Joint

What it Does

The inner tie rods are pushed and pulled on by the steering rack to steer the front wheels. These joints also swivel so that they follow along with with suspension movement and wheel travel.

Why This Matters

These tie rods are crucial steering system components. Loose tie rod joints can affect the vehicle’s stability, steering responsiveness, and alignment. A severely stressed or worn tie rod joint may separate completely.

Possible Problems and Concerns

Tie Rod Looseness

Early Stage:

The tie rod has a small or tiny amount of looseness. This will affect the vehicle’s alignment and may thus result in accelerated tire wear. An alignment adjustment done in this condition may not hold. There will be at least a slight impact to steering responsiveness and thus the vehicle’s safety, but it’s unlikely to be perceptible while driving. (The slight looseness will slightly delay the steering response of the affected wheel.)


The tie rod has a severe degree of looseness. The vehicle cannot hold proper alignment and abnormal tire wear may be observed. Steering responsiveness is affected, and thus vehicle safety is impacted because the vehicle’s handling does not meet the standards it was designed to. The tie rod may progress from this stage to complete separation (The joint is now beating on itself internally and will continue to wear.)

Tie Rod Separation

This is a very dangerous situation in which the tie rod physically separates. This results in complete loss of steering control to the affected wheel because the steering rack cannot push or pull on that wheel for steering. If by any chance the tie rod has been designed to make complete separation impossible, tie rod control of the wheel will still be very sloppy, and the vehicle will not handle properly.

Debris Intrusion

A torn steering rack boot can allow debris to intrude into the inner tie rod joint, which can cause the joint to wear (become loose).

Lubricant Wash-out

A torn steering rack boot can allow road water to get into the inner tie rod joint and rinse out the joint lubricant. Loss of lubricant can allow the joint to wear (become loose.)

Impact or Force Damage

A vehicle collision (this could include a severe curb or debris strike) can apply enough force to bend the inner tie rod joint. This will put the vehicle severely out of alignment and cause the vehicle to not handle or steer properly.

Recommended Parts Brands

  • OE grade
  • Sankei 555 (for Asian Makes)

Repair Notes

Inner tie rod joint replacement often requires removal of the rack and pinion assembly. Replacement of an inner tie rod without a suitable counter-hold on the rack shaft risks internal rack damage.