The most common reason to replace a tie rod adjusting sleeve is because the part is either rusted, either on the outside, or the threads have flattened, or from damage. If it was hit after driving over something large and solid on the highway, it could have bent it out of shape causing the steering to be out of alignment. A rusted part would be more prominently found on a vehicle near the ocean or in high moisture areas. Even over a long period of time, rust can take over most parts if the vehicle isn't properly stored. If it's been damaged, you may need to replace other parts related to the steering system too because they're all interconnected. If this is the case, you may feel steering "tug" from one side or the other, or the steering may not track straight. You may also feel a vibration through the steering wheel at higher speeds. Most vehicles use a tie rod adjusting sleeve to connect the inner tie rods coming from the steering rack (in rack-and-pinion systems) to the outer tie rod ends, which connect to the steering knuckles at each wheel. They allow for the adjustment of the length between them to align the vehicle properly.
Steering tie rod adjustment sleeves have been around since the start of the rack-and-pinion system of steering for automobiles, and more prominently, when power steering systems became commonplace. Before power steering and racks, there were more metal bar components to the steering that could be adjusted by limited amounts. In modern times, the tie rod adjusting sleeves allow for quick steering alignment adjustments without having to take apart the whole steering system. They're threaded, so they rotate either clockwise or counter clockwise on each end and depending on which direction the wheels need to be aligned.
You'll find below some basic instructions for removing and replacing the tie rod adjusting sleeves in your vehicle. Keep in mind every vehicle is different, so your vehicle may have extra or less steps, and these are provided as just a very basic understanding of the system.
- Safely lift the vehicle with either a lift or jack and support it using jack stands.
- Underneath the car, locate the rack-and-pinion, usually near the center of the vehicle.
- Locate the two tie rod assemblies protruding from either end of the rack and spanning the distance to each wheel.
- Depending on the attachment method, undo the tie rod adjusting sleeves between each inner and outer tie rod. This involves de-threading each side with an appropriately sized wrench.
- Replace each sleeve with a new one, threading each side on.
- Perform an alignment, or have a certified mechanic perform one. This may require a tow to a nearby wheel and tire shop.
If your vehicle has a damaged or rusty tie rod adjusting sleeve, it's a good idea to replace it as soon as possible. If it's not changed in a timely manner, it could lead to steering problems and a very dangerous vehicle to be operating. Replace your worn or damaged tie rod adjustment sleeves with one from Car Parts Discount and you won't be disappointed. You'll have peace of mind knowing your steering system is in top operating condition and you'll have paid a fraction of what the dealer charges.