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Question about tie rods

So I was checking my tie rods by hand last night, car on the ground, handbrake on.

My outer tie rods were good on both sides no play or noise, when I checked my inner tie rods the driver’s side was solid, the other made a little noise.

It did NOT make noise when I pulled it “in and out” towards my wheel and away from my wheel horizontally.

But when I shook them more north to south / up and down or from the front of my car and to the back of the car it did make a slight noise.

Went to a local garage and the guy told me that was normal and nothing to worry about.

Now my driver’s side inner tied rod does not make this noise, so I was wondering, is this concerning or is this a normal occurance?

I’m going to an authorized dealership next week just to be sure, but in the meantime I wanted to get some feedback on this matter.

Thanks in advance,
Feedback greatly appreciated.

Does the car feel loose when you drive it?

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It’s a normal occurrence when a tie rod begins to wear out.

Tester

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There shouldn’t be play in the tie rods. Shops don’t just shake them with their hands, they use a prying device. Much more force to check for movement that way. So if one of yours makes a noise when you just shake it by hand, that could be a problem. however, it’s possible something else is moving that’s causing the noise, not the tie rod joint. Maybe that’s what the shop guy meant when he said it is normal. Is there a reason why you checked the tie rods in the first place? Are you hearing a noise when driving? Steering problems?

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Way back in the olden days looseness east and west was suspension, looseness north and south was a bearing, not sure if it still applies, with north being up.

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Back in the olden days, it was normal to have slight looseness in the front wheel bearings

Back then, they were tapered roller bearings.

And when a tapered roller bearing was installed, you would spin the rotor/drum while tightening the spindle nut to pre-load the bearings until the nut seated.

Then you would back the spindle nut off about a 1/4 turn.

So it was normal to have slight slop in the front wheel bearings.

Tester

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The reason why I checked it myself was because a while ago I drove down a very bad road at night at a high speed, not knowing the road was filled with cobble stones with many deep holes left and right and a rather big height difference down the entire road between the left and right wheel (Imagine the car continuously going up and down over bumps and down holes oppositely from each other on both sides). It made the car shook violently from left to right and I had to get my front shocks replaced as a result. Also got my entire suspension and steering box (rack and pinion) checked but it all seemed fine.

But after that occurrence my steering has never felt the same, steering feels looser and more indirect ever since, less responsive, I have to turn my wheel more than before to make the same turn, when driving in a pothole there was much more feedback and kick in my steering wheel (the new shocks helped a lot with this though, but doesn’t feel exactly like before), and when I turn my steering wheel it feels more sluggish to return to center and feels sort of dragging but still centers well.
The new front shocks did give some “stiffness” back to the steering feel at first, but after a couple of months it doesn’t seem to be the solution after all.

I got the tie rods and suspension checked right after the incident, that was a couple of months ago, but I’ve always noticed a clear difference eventhough they never found something at the time (went to 3 different shops).

I’m already thinking about replacing my inner and outer tie rods on both sides, but I’ll go to another shop first and see what they say, I’ve always felt like something has been off / “worn out” ever since eventhough a visual inspection has always been negative.

Thanks for the replies, I appreciated it!

I don’t agree with that

Shops might use a “prying device” to check ball joints, but not tie rods

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Also, the noise is not coming from the wheel bearing, but from the inside tie rod, near the center of the car

Your alignment wasn’t done right when your new shocks were installed. Most likely a combination of worned tie rods and bad alignment causing that.

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With the vehicle on the ground and chocked, have someone turn the steering wheel back and forth a couple of inches to each side and watch the tie rods. If there is any excessive play, you will see it as both sides of the ball joint (tie rod end) will move independently a little.

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hmm … well it sounds like you are doing all the correct things. As my first guess, I’m sort of leaning in the direction of @rascal243 's comment below, a problem remains with the alignment you got when the shocks were replaced. The only other thing I can think of is there’s a problem with the steering rack. Steering racks can sometimes be adjusted for looseness or tightness; ask you shop to check that adjustment.

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Appreciate all the replies guys,

one thing I hadn’t mentioned yet was that when the dealership replaced the shocks they did a very poor job aligning the car, my steering wheel was off center and the alignment itself was also off, I took it back and they re-did it.

But another poor job, steering wheel still wasn’t centered well and the alignment still wasn’t on point.
I’m a stickler to these things and thought they should’ve done a better job and took my business elsewhere.

I decided I probably am going to go to another dealership in the future and took my car to my local garage guy who is usually spot on and does a great job on my car. He re-centered the steering wheel and re-aligned my car, the car drove much better afterwards. This guy I trust with these things.

I had not checked my tie rods myself before, it would’ve been interesting to see if there was a change / difference before and after the new shocks.

Oddly enough all the Mercedes dealerships around here don’t get great reviews, and I can’t say they’ve done a very good job on my car, there’s always been little things they messed up every time I visited (after replacing the shocks, I always got a knocking sounds coming from around the engine bay, turned out they managed to get my braking fluid reservoir loose and it banged against my chassis whenever the car moved, I had them re-check everything but they couldn’t find it, until I stumbled upon it myself :facepalm: )

ergo why I like my local car guy, been going there with my previous cars and my parents’ cars. He’s usually spot on, but this is the first time I’m a little doubtful about his diagnosis on the tie rods, no movement on one side and some on the other, sounds strange to me.

I’m still gonna get a second opinion in another garage and see what they think.

I also asked the mechanic at the dealership about that stiffness / tightness adjustment for the steering wheel, but he said that older cars did have that, but since this is a more modern car it doesn’t have that and it’s all electronically controlled or something.

He also plain up told me that my diesel car also had questionable software in it also found in other branded cars, I lol’d, guy was a straight up fella.

Thank you guys for all the feedback!

There should be no slop or noise at all in either the tie rods or tie rod ends.

Any looseness at all in the tie rods, tie rod ends, ball joints, wheel bearings, control arm bushings, or what have you makes any alignment process null and void.

Hard steering can be caused by low tire pressure, incorrect caster on the alignment, binding tie rod end or ball joint, fluid pressure issue, or the pinion adjustment on the steering rack is too tight. Not being terribly familiar with Benzes or with which model you have, I’m guessing the pinion is adjustable.

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Alright, as tie rods seem relatively inexpensive it’s probably a good idea to get them replaced anyway since my steering and handling has declined.

Now since I drove over this very bad road I’m also wondering about my control arm, however there’s no play in the ball joints and no noise coming from them when driving over bumps, potholes or cobble stones, I think they’re still good. I wonder is there a way to check the bushings on the control arm one could do at home or does a drive test tell enough?

How about putting the vehicle on jack stands and taking some pictures of the bushings?

Once on jack stands, you could also carefully use a pry bar to help determine just how worn they are

Exactly which model Benz do you have?