How to Tell if ATV Tie Rods Are Bad

Tie rods are an integral part of the steering mechanism on an ATV and when they start to reach the end of their life, it’s time to replace them. You can learn how to tell if ATV tie rods are bad while driving, as well as perform a check while sitting still. Either way, this is an important thing to do the moment you notice any change in steering in order to prevent a serious incident from occurring.

It might seem difficult to notice if your tie rod ends are bad if you’re a beginner rider, but the more you ride, the easier it is to tell that they’re needing to be replaced. Fortunately, there are a few easy ways to figure out if your tie rod ends are about to go and need to be replaced.

atv trail riding in the wood

Shakes and Wobbles

The moment your tie rods start to go, you’ll notice a dramatic shift in your steering ability. Your steering may start to seem loose and wobbly when the tie rods are bad, due to a negative shift in the geometry of the steering mechanism.

You may also start to notice a lot of harsh vibrations happening while riding. The tie rods provide a gentle calming to the vigorous movements of the machine, but when the tie rods are bad, you’ll notice that this is no longer the case.

Out-of-sync Wheel Movement

One great way to know if your tie rod ends are bad is to get the front two wheels off of the ground and perform a quick test. Once the two front wheels are off the ground enough to move freely, grab one tire as if it was the handlebar and turn it to the left and right.

In-sync movement of the two wheels is due to the tie rods being in good condition. If there is a delay in the movement or a lack of movement in the other wheel, you may need to consider replacing the tie rods on your ATV.

Visual Inspection

A quick look at the rubber dust boot that covers the tie rod ends is an easy way to determine if your ATV tie rods are bad. If this boot is torn or even missing, you need to get a tie rod replacement ready to go.

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