Tie Rod Ends
The steering mechanism of your car is one of the most complex and delicate parts of it. It consists of a number of different components, and is responsible for giving your car the ability to turn. This may not sound like much at first, until you suddenly realize that heading down a street without the ability to turn can have rather undesirable (and possibly fatal) consequences.
The tie rod is one of the most vital components of the steering mechanism of your car. At a glance, it looks like a long structural rod, which serves as a tie, and bears only tensile loads. The tie rod has two ends – an inner end and an outer end. In case you are wondering how something called a 'rod' can have an inner end and an outer end, just think of a bicycle's wheels for a change. The spokes of bicycle wheels are somewhat analogous to tie rods. The ends leading into the center of the wheel are the inner ends, while the outer ends are – yes, you guessed it, leading outward toward the edge of the wheel.
The tie rod is responsible for the transfer of force from the central steering link of your car, or to the steering knuckle from the rack gear. This in turn results in the wheels of the car turning. The outer tie rod end is linked to a special type of adjusting sleeve, which allows the tie rod's length to be modified. This is required in order to fix the alignment angle of the vehicle. The tie rod's functional strength is a mathematical function of its minimum cross-sectional are and the amount of allowable working stress. The tie rod ends are often manufactured to be thicker than the middle, in order to prevent them weakening.
Tie rod ends can be connected in numerous ways, but the best results can be obtained when the connection strength is at least the same as the strength of the rod, if not stronger. It is often a good idea to thread the ends of the rod, and then pass through shackles (metal component, usually U shaped, which is fastened with the use of a bolt or pin diagonally through the opening) or drilled holes, and further affixed using nuts and bolts.
The distance between the loading points can be changed by threading the tie rod ends both left hand and right hand. This allows the rod to be prestressed on demand by changing this distance. The same effect can also be used by using a turnbuckle (a devise that is utilized to tweak the tension in the tie rod). A hook or an eye can also be forged into the rod to connect the ends.
The wheel alignment, suspension and steering systems of the car must be regularly checked annually at the very least, because if a tie rod becomes eroded, it can cause the car's steering to become greatly erratic and causes tires to wear out much faster than usual. The alignment of the wheels may be disturbed by a replacement of the tie rod, in which case realignment is necessary. Otherwise, the compressive forces may cause it to collapse.
Tie rod ends also function as shield by preventing all kinds of pollutants that can usually promotes the corrosion and wearing of the tie rods. It is very necessary to keep monitor the functional capabilities of the tie rods in order to make sure that responsive steering and smooth transmission can be achieved. Tie rod ends are the commonly the most overlooked parts and is it is very important it is moved to the list of “commonly checked” during a maintenance.