What’s going wrong
Why not attach the end of the tie rod directly to the pivot arm of the hub? It seems like without an extra detail, a hotel tip, everything would have turned out cheaper. Cheaper, yes, but definitely not better. Firstly, the length of the tip regulates the toe angle of the front wheels. You would still somehow have to adjust the length of the rod, so you won’t be able to do without an additional adjusting element. Secondly, the wheels constantly endure all the difficulties of the roads – pits, bumps and everything else. All these shocks are transferred to traction. If there were no tip, the rod would become a consumable item and repairs would become much more expensive. Because the thrust costs more than a small and relatively simple tip, and changing it is much more difficult. So in fact it turns out that with a tip, the operation of the machine is both easier and cheaper.
The tie rod end is really simple. The basis of everything is the body of the ball joint. On the one hand, it is just installed, on the other hand, a thread is cut along which the tip is screwed onto the steering rod. What can break here? In general, only a ball joint.
In the most neglected, but, fortunately, the rarest case, the hinge pin breaks. This is the most unpredictable and dangerous breakdown – in this case, the wheel turns out and the car loses control. And it is very good that in real life it is very difficult to face this.
Much more often, the hinge gradually wears out. More precisely, the hinge insert wears out. It is usually made from Teflon. Over time, it becomes thinner, and the finger begins to play in the case. And this is what usually causes the need to replace the thrust tip.
The cost of the rod end is not very high, and its replacement at first glance is very simple: you need to unscrew the nut that secures the pin to the pivot arm of the hub, and on the other hand, just unscrew the tip from the rod. However, many either do not do this at all, or do not do it quite right.
Knock knock, who’s there
One of the reasons for delaying replacement is some difficulty in diagnosing the handpiece. It is very successfully disguised as other details of the running gear, and it is not always clear that it is necessary to change it. Of course, if you have a lift at hand (a viewing hole does not help very well here), finding play in the thrust tip is quite simple. You can even hang the wheel on a jack, which will also help find the play. But we must be honest: it is unlikely that any of the modern drivers will pull out the jack with gentle handles in order to understand what is tapping down there. Moreover, the tip is remembered last. Much more often, they try to blame the cause of the knock on the stabilizer struts, in extreme cases, on the ball bearings. There is indeed logic in this. For example, both of them fail more often. Yes, the symptoms are very similar. Let’s dwell on them in a little more detail.
Rod end wear manifests itself in different ways. A slight knock may appear, the reaction to turning the steering wheel decreases, the car stands worse on the road. The trouble is that exactly the same symptoms will be with the wear of the stabilizer struts, and with severe wear of the ball bearings. Therefore, the best way to check the condition of the tie rod ends is to check the play on the lift. Especially with this, you should not delay if, in addition to the above signs, an unhealthy return to the steering wheel appears when driving through bumps. This already quite clearly indicates a faulty tip. And if you suddenly see that an anther is torn on one of them, you will have to change it anyway. And here, too, there are subtleties.
Lubrication, length, angles
As I said, the tie rod end adjusts the toe angle. So that it does not change, a long time ago they came up with a simple way to replace the tip: you need to calculate how many turns it was screwed onto the rod, and screw the new tip on exactly the same number of turns. Theoretically, the total length of the rod with the tip will remain the same, which means that the toe angle will not change. Alas, that method does not always work well. It was more or less acceptable when, instead of the factory VAZ tip, they put exactly the same new factory VAZ tip. The keywords are “the same”. And now it’s not always possible to buy exactly the same tip. Because, firstly, they are not always available, and secondly, there are almost always dozens of non-original parts from very decent manufacturers. This is good, but it is bad that the length of such tips may differ slightly from the length of the one that has to be changed. And then you have to change by eye the number of turns on which the new part is twisted. Of course, to expose the convergence by eye is an impossible task for an ordinary person. As a result, it can become even worse: the car will be poorly controlled, but it will start eating tires. Therefore, it’s better to forget about the way to count the turns, and after replacing the tip, go to a normal stand to set the toe and camber. And by and large, this procedure must be carried out at least once every two years with the control of angles during seasonal change of shoes. The truth is, almost no one does that.
The second point is the lubricant, which should be under the anther. If you buy a tip from a not very conscientious manufacturer, you can see that the cat wept under the anther. And this means that the ball joint will not last long – the Teflon insert will wear out very quickly. In this case, it makes sense to add lubricants, but it is not always clear which one.
Usually, the simplest Litol 24 is used for this. It is, of course, better than nothing, but lithol has one drawback: it does not affect the rubber boot in the best way. The anther swells, loses its shape, quickly breaks, dirt gets into the joint – and we arrived. Of course, if the tip is of high quality, its boot will be made of silicone or neoprene, and nothing bad will happen (they are not afraid of lithol), but good tips and lubrication are usually in order.
Instead of lithol, it is better to use at least ShRB 4 or Tsiatim 201. The latter, however, is quickly washed off with water, but if the anther is intact, the tip will last longer with it than with lithol.
Well, it’s best to buy a special grease for hinges on a calcium or barium basis. These lubricants are more expensive, but if the cost of a new tip is high, the cost of a good lubricant will be justified. By the way, all these lubricants are great not only for rod ends, but also for ball bearings.
Why and why?
We are left with the last question: is it possible to extend the life of the tip? It is possible, but by and large it still falls into the category of consumables. Especially for those who often travel on bad roads. As a ball joint, the tip does not like bumps, so pit racing can ruin it for 10 thousand kilometers.
The rotation of the steering wheel on a stationary car also greatly reduces the life of the tips: in this case, they experience increased loads. There is nothing new here either. Turning the steering wheel while standing still has always been a bad habit.
Significant harm is caused by the habit of climbing curbs, especially with the wheels turned out and diagonally. However, there is nothing new here either. This same habit kills the anti-roll bars and bushings in the first place, so it’s best to get rid of it.
Well, and the last: the tip with a torn anther dies very quickly. Changing the anther immediately after discovering his death or waiting until the time comes to change the entire tip is a personal matter. However, you must always remember that driving a car with a defective tie rod end is not only unpleasant, but also dangerous.