Should You Replace Both Inner and Outer Tie Rods at the Same Time?

Replacing inner and outer tie rods as soon as they significantly wear out or go bad is recommended. However, many drivers wonder if you should change them at once or only replace the faulty ones. Luckily, we have the answer for you.

Changing inner and outer tie rods at the same time is unnecessary but may be recommended in some situations. Considering that you need to remove the outer tie rod to access the inner tie rod, it only makes sense to replace both.

It might make sense to replace both, just to save on labor costs. Also, inner and outer tie rods can wear out at the same rate, which requires both to be replaced. The only time when you should replace just the inner tie rod is when the outer tie rod has been replaced recently.


Read on for more information about when to change your tie rods and what it costs in labor and replacement parts.

How Do You Know If You Need a New Inner/Outer Tie Rod?

Inner and outer tie rods are complementary components that connect your steering rack to the steering knuckle on each front wheel. The two work together to give you steering control down the road. Hence, it is challenging to differentiate the symptoms of a failing inner tie rod from those of an outer tie rod without visual inspection.

We will discuss the symptoms of failing tie rods in general. So, book an appointment with your mechanic for further diagnosis. Faulty tie rods are likely to cause the following changes in your car:

01. Loss of Steering Control

As mentioned, tie rods help you steer the vehicle when cruising down the road. In severe cases of total tie rods’ failure, you lose that ability to control the car. It will maintain its course regardless of the input on the steering wheel.

Fortunately, losing steering control out of the blue is nearly impossible. Before this adverse sign of failed tie rods, you will likely see other symptoms discussed here, explaining why you should never ignore them to stay safe on the road.

02. Squealing Sound When Turning

Any strange sound from a car is never good news to any driver, and this particular one is not different. It is a loud, high-pitched squeal similar to a shriek. If you hear it anytime you turn, the problem may be failing end rods but not the only cause.

Other potential causes of this strange sound include failing ball joint lubrication and low power steering fluid. However, you should never ignore them because they are hazardous to you and your vehicle.

03. Uneven or Excessive Tire Wear

Uneven tire wear is visible to anyone who cares to check. You should routinely check the tire and other components for anomalies. For your tires, check the inside and outside edges for any excessive wear on either side. If there is, it may be due to failing or faulty tie rods.

However, uneven or excessive tire wear can also be caused by suspension problems or bad wheel alignment. Ensure you check all of them when diagnosing it.

Related content: Why Does My Car Feel Like It’s Floating?

04. Bad Front Wheel Alignment

The most common causes of wheel misalignment include hitting the curbs or driving straight into the potholes. However, failing or faulty tie rods can also be the victim. Your car may pull to one side if the front wheels are not aligned properly.

Wheel realignment involves adjusting the tie rods. But if worn out or damaged, the mechanic may recommend you change them.

05. Steering Wheel Vibration

If your steering wheel suddenly feels unusual, the tie rods can be the culprit. The wheel can be shaky or vibrate excessively. The steering wheel can become loose and plays a lot in some cases. You will often experience these changes when you negotiate corners and vibrations become more pronounced accelerates or decelerates.

The most common causes of this problem are loose or damaged tie rods. Visit an auto repair shop or contact your mechanic to diagnose and fix your car to stay safe on the roads.

How Much Does It Cost to Replace Tie Rods in Your Car?

Replacing the inner and outer tie rods at once may save you time and money on labor charges in the long run. But how much does it cost to change these components?

The cost of replacing tie rods depends on your vehicle, the quality of the part, and labor charges, which vary from region to region. Also, it will cost you more in replacement parts if you should change both inner and outer tie rods.

Parts alone will cost you between $20 and $100. If you are replacing both tie rods, that value doubles. The labor charges for an outer tie rod can be anywhere from $80 to $100. Inner tie rods, on the other hand, take more time to change. As a result, it can cost you about $150 to $300 in labor. Remember you have to remove the outer tie rod to access the inner tie rod.

Furthermore, you have to budget an extra $100-$200 for wheel alignment as well. This task is required every time you replace your tie rods.

You can care for your tie rods and make them last longer. These components are rarely mentioned during regular vehicle maintenance but also need your attention. Clean and grease the tie rod ends when you change the engine oil. That will make them serve you better and last longer. But above all, adopt the best driving habit and stay clear of potholes and other obstacles on the road.

How Long Do Outer/Inner Tie Rods Last?

The service life of inner and outer tie rods depends on your car, driving habits, and road conditions. You will need to change them sooner if you frequently use the countryside rough roads with potholes. But generally, tie rods are expected to last 50,000 miles before replacing them due to regular wear and tear.

However, your driving habit can significantly influence the lifespan of your tie rods. Impacts from hitting the curb or constantly driving into potholes can cause premature failure of these components.

How Long Does It Take to Replace Your Outer and Inner Tie Rods?

The time required to replace your inner and outer tie rods should not vary regardless of car make and model. What does influence the time needed to replace them is how experienced the mechanic doing the task is. If you decide to do the job on your own, it might take considerably longer.

On average, the time needed to replace the inner and outer tie rods on one side is about 1.5-2 hours. Add another hour for alignment, as every time you replace the tie rods, you need to redo your wheel alignment. This is required to ensure your steering and suspension angles are within the range specified by the manufacturer.

Related content: What does it mean when cords are showing on your tires?

What Is the Difference Between Outer and Inner Tie Rods?

To put it simply, inner tie rods are located on the inside of your steering system, while the outer rods connect the outer side of the steering system. In more technical terms, the inner rods connect to the steering rack, while the outer rods connect the steering arms of your vehicle.

I know some people understand things much easier when illustrated; therefore, I will use a diagram, so you have a better understanding of their differences and location.

outer and inner tie rods diagram

While different, they both serve the same purpose: they connect the movements you perform using your steering wheel to the wheels. This is why one of the first signs that they need replacing is the loss of steering wheel control. You feel like the car does not listen to you when steering.

In Summary

To summarise this article, it is important to note that in most cases, you should replace both inner and outer rods at the same time. The costs associated with the labor to replace just the inner tie rod is about the same as replacing both. The parts do not cost that much, so it only makes sense to do the job once.