So, it finally happened—you need a UTV tie rod replacement. Don’t worry, you’re not alone! Tie rods break down with normal wear and tear, so even the most cautious riders will need to replace them eventually. The important thing is not to wait until they break and you lose control of your steering!
We’ve collected the basic knowledge you need to help diagnose tie rod issues and decide what to do when you need a UTV tie rod replacement.
So, what are tie rods, anyway? The name is almost self-explanatory. They’re metal bars (rods) that connect (tie) your steering rack to the steering arm. Without them, you wouldn’t be able to control the direction of your tires. You can imagine what happens when they fail!
Tie rods are located on the front end of the UTV behind the tire. Due to their location and function, they see a lot of action—especially if you like to hit the trail hard.
Tie rod ends connect to the tie rods on both sides, but are technically a separate part. They enable the suspension to move independently while allowing the rider to steer the UTV. The tie rods and tie rod ends are some of the most important parts of your side-by-side.
Your UTV will give you a number of signs that your tie rods or tie rod ends are failing before they completely quit. Here are the most common signs of tie rod and tie rod end wear:
One of the first clues that something may be wrong is your steering. If you’re riding in a straight line on flat ground, you may notice that the machine tends to veer off to the left or right without you intentionally changing direction. That’s commonly called “pulling” and it’s a sign that you either desperately need an alignment or your tie rods ends are almost shot. Either way, get to the garage ASAP!
If you’re getting significant vibrations while turning, accelerating, or slowing down, it could also be a sign of tie rod end problems. It’s definitely worth checking if you have any unusual vibrations or shaking. You’ll also want to check your tires to ensure they’re all the same pressure and free of damage to rule out tire problems.
Unusual noises from the front wheel area could also signal an issue with your tie rod ends. Quick, sharp sounds or thuds are pretty much always a bad sign. Tie rod ends could be the culprit, especially if you’re experiencing any of the other issues we’ve listed here.
Your tires can also hint at the condition of your tie rod ends. If you’ve noticed uneven wear, especially on the inside of the tires, it may be time for a repair. Uneven wear on the inside of the tire can be caused by “toeing out”, which is a symptom of poor alignment. As tie rod ends age, it becomes more difficult to maintain proper alignment, resulting in irregular tire wear.
You can help prevent wear and tear (and save money on replacement) by properly caring for your tie rods. Correct alignment prevents unnecessary stress on your machine. Keep on top of alignment and you’ll extend the life of your tie rods, tie rod ends, and tires.
Unlike cars, UTVs don’t have greaseable tie rods. While this reduces required maintenance, that doesn’t mean you should ignore your tie rods. If you suspect your tie rod ends are going bad, it’s fairly simple to check.
Jack the front end of your machine up and place your hands on the tire at the 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock positions and gently but firmly press on one side of the tire. If one tire moves before the other, that’s an almost sure sign that your tie rod ends are worn out.
When it’s time for new tie rods, don’t replace them with more of the same—upgrade them! SuperATV’s heavy-duty tie rod kits are bigger and more durable than stock. That means they work harder for longer, so no matter how hard you are on your rig, our tie rods can keep up. Plus, the cost to upgrade to SuperATV tie rods isn’t much higher than OEM for most machines. For the performance upgrade you’re getting, it’s more than worth the investment—and our tie rod kits are backed with a lifetime warranty.
We include full instructions, offer virtual mechanic services, and have tons of how-to videos on every subject to help you get all your upgrades installed right the first time. If you want to spend less time in the garage diagnosing tie rod issues and more time on the trail, you want a set of heavy-duty SuperATV tie rods.