Tie rod ends, ball joints, idler arms, pitman arms. What do these parts all have in common?
- They are all part of your car or truck’s steering and suspension.
- Their proper functionality is critical to the control of your vehicle and your safety.
- These parts are ball and socket joints that eventually wear out.
With routine inspections it is easy to spot worn out steering and suspension parts. Finding them before they are badly worn is critical because if one breaks you will lose control of your vehicle.
Steering linkage designs come in two ways: most common is rack and pinion steering. The other is the recirculating ball steering box. These two systems use different linkage configurations. Rack and pinion is the simplest and most common. It features two outer and two inner tie rod ends.
While once used in every vehicle, the steering box is less common these days and found exclusively on trucks. In addition to inner and outer tie rod ends this system uses additional wearable parts like the pitman arm, drag link & idler arm(s).
Suspension systems also differ widely among vehicles, the simplest being the Macpherson strut. This system has only one ball joint to wear out. Other systems use upper and lower control arms, some with multiple arms. These have two or more ball joints per side that can and will wear out.
While there are many designs of steering and suspension the commonalities are: they use ball and socket joints; they wear out; when they do, it creates a dangerous situation. To ensure your safety the most important thing for you to do is replace them at the first sign of wear.