Tie rod/possible ball joint problem

2001 PT Cruiser with 73,000. Left front tie rod had a lot of play, possible ball joint problems. It needs new tires as well.

This is owned by my 19 year old goddaughter, she thinks she can get the tires and drive it until she has the money for the tie rods, maybe ball joints. I say, no way because steering could be lost and tire may fall off with disastrous consequences.

What can you tell kids? She want to know what are the odds of tie rod failure? I say she cannot only not afford the car and its costs, but the cost of such a failure.

Opinions? TIA

Maybe you can just find her some pictures. A few good ones are here:

The odds of tie rod breakage are really good if they are sloppy enough to show wear. I would say nine to ten percent now and it goes worse every week. Keep her informed that once they get a little bit sloppier, the odds go out the window.

The odds of severe damage to the car are about sixty percent if a failure occurs. That depends upon where the failure occurs and what speed the car is going. If there is three feet between car and ditch, there may be no injuries to driver and passenger, unless there is a culvert, power pole or another vehicle. Prevent a head-on collision at any cost.

The statistics are kind of my own figuring but whatever the odds, they are not worth messing with. The only lottery most people win are the BAD ones. Ask her if she feels lucky.

Thank you, that is good info, particularly: “you hear clunking noises when driving and you hit a bump” because that is exactly what is happening and what I described when I took the car to have it checked. I just described the noise because I didn’t want them to find what I said was wrong.

Thanks, it’s really not fair to ask for odds on such things because who really knows and each vehicle and circumstance is different.

This is her first car and she got it from her stepfather when he bought a new car. Last summer he took it to Fire’rock’ to have a coolant change and they went over the entire car when he left it and gave him a $2300 estimate for everything they said was wrong including the ball joints to a tune of over a grand. He thought they were ripping him off, but maybe it did need ball joints. It needed new tires last summer and he had never had them rotated in the 4 years they were on the car.

The clunking noise I heard when I first drove the car when going over bumps does turn out to be a good clue. I am not mechanical, but haven driven for over 40 years it did not seem right. There are some problems you can get by driving with for awhile, but bad tie rods and ball joints do not seem to be those.