Play in a steering tie rod (inner)

I went to have my car aligned, and was told that my left inner steering tie rod was bad and had to be replaced. I did so, and asked for the old one back. I asked the mechanic how to tell if tie rod is bad. He showed me that he could move the ball freely in the socket, and that on a good tie rod you would not be able to do that by hand because it would be too tight. Is true or do I now just have an extra tie rod?

If you saw the joint move just with hand pressure when it was still attached, then YES!!! it was bad and needed to be replaced. This part handles a lot more force that you can simply move with your hand. Any play you can see by hand force is magnified hundreds of times under load as you drive. Any slop creates a dangerous situation where the part can fail when your in an emergency situation, like swerving to avoid that small child.

Yes it’s true.

If you take a new tie rod end, be it an inner or outer, the ball and socket will be difficult to manipulate. Where with a worn tie rod tie end, it’ll be pretty easy to move the ball and socket.