Outer tie rods: too loose?

Last Edited By Krjb Donovan
Last Updated: Mar 11, 2014 07:48 PM GMT

Question

Hi Roland,

I went to the firestone for something else they noted car needs outer tie rods & alignment. The car is 99 Chrysler Sebring LXI. Tie rods $260.00 alignment 79.00 premium lifetime alignment 179.00

The car just turned over to 100,000 mile

My question is it dangerous to leave the tie rods go for while the car has new tires could the wheels fall off? There is slight looseness felt in steering wheel the car will slowly drift off drove if leave go of steering wheel but does not pull.

My question is it dangerous leave tie rods go for while? I baby the car park it in shade away from other cars looks sharp but the black paint is weak just starting to show small spots oxidation rear truck lid & spots on rear roof behind moonroof. I do not know how long I will want to keep the car because of the paint.

Please let me know what you think

Thank you

Michael,

Answer

Hi Michael Did they give you the measurement of the amount of free play in the tie rods? I am not an expert in this subject, but I believe they should have done one or both measurements such as the following and told you the results: The manual says the maximum amount of free play in the steering wheel proper, measured at its circumference with the engine running is 1 3/6 inches. If more than that, the reason should be determined (which could include the tie rods as part of the looseness). The toe-in spec and the maximum allowed variance from the spec would be the exact way to know the extent of the tie-rod looseness: that spec is straight ahead +/- 3 mm. So one could measure distance in between two dots placed on the treads at the front of the tires: measure first after pushing the treads apart and then after pulling them together. If the distance changes by more that 3 mm then that would mean the variation of the toe would be greater than the limit allowed for proper toe value. That is how I would assess the tie rod condition. I don't believe there is any chance of loosing control of the vehicle (the wheels do not fall off and the vehicle would be unsteerable before the tie rod broke entirely). The 'wander' will reach a point at which you will want to replace them before there is a risk of loss of control. To do the measurement have a helper to hold one end of the metal tape measure. Put a white dot (use 'white out' or similar) on the front of each tire tread. Then with a knife or blade scratch a verical mark in each dot. Measure between the scratch marks. If they can't give you a measurement that show the free-play is excessive then I would not give them the job of replacing the tie rods, nor the alignment. I would shop around to an independent shop alignment shop instead. Please 'rate' my answer (see below). Thank you, Roland

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