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#3287388 - 02/19/14 03:54 PM Can a worn tie-rod end really cause such havoc?
faramir9 Offline


Registered: 06/01/12
Posts: 294
Loc: PA
So, I noticed the front tires on the lady's '03 Taurus were worn down way more than they should be after 6 months and 5K miles. Firestone Affinity Touring (store version) 215/60R16, installed on Labor Day 2013 with 11/32. Now the left front is 8/32 while the right is closer to 9/32.

When I saw that I suspected alignment woes and asked if the car tracks straight or has a shimmy, wobble etc. The boss reported no problems, just a smooth ride. Scratching my head, off go I to the Firestone shop where we had them installed.

Turns out the left inner tie rod was badly worn. At least in part due to that, the front left toe measured -02.52---way out of spec. (-0.23 to 0.03) That was the culprit of the fast treadwear, they said. It turns out they suggested tie rod replacement when the boss had the tires installed, but she says I told her never to fall for add-on work pitches, especially from chains....and she's right.

So I had them replace the tie rod end and do an alignment, which brought toe within spec. Should have done that when we got the tires, but oh well....all should be good going forward, but a few questions for you experts:

1. With toe _that_ far out of spec, would a careful driver not sense or feel it?

2. Is it normal for alignment and suspension to wear down a 70K-warrantied tire by 3/32 in 5K miles? Even when it is way out of spec?

3. Wondering if we got a good deal. With coupon paid about $305 for the tie rod replacement, alignment and a Kendall syn-blend oil change. Maybe could have saved a few $$$ going to an indy garage for the tie rod work, but I wanted to get this over with.

Thanks.
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#3287392 - 02/19/14 04:02 PM Re: Can a worn tie-rod end really cause such havoc? [Re: faramir9]
eljefino Offline


Registered: 06/15/03
Posts: 23906
Loc: ME
Don't they check your front-end for PA state inspections? How has that gotten through?

I'm scratching my head, that spec is 10x the allowable. Either there was some sort of damage... pothole etc, but I don't really feel the geometry could have punched that tie-rod end without screwing other stuff up too.

Maybe parallel parking into a curb really hard did it?

In short, if they yanked on the knuckle, could they have found slop in the TRE to bring it back into alignment? You seem to have a worn part and also something bent.

Just my opinion...

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#3287393 - 02/19/14 04:03 PM Re: Can a worn tie-rod end really cause such havoc? [Re: faramir9]
mrsilv04 Offline


Registered: 12/08/06
Posts: 6370
Loc: Illinois
1) If it is what she was used to feeling, and if it was a slow progression (as it usually is), then it probably didn't feel any different to her.

2) Sis has those same tires on her Outback, and they are wearing quite well, even when on an AWD car. So from what I'm seeing, you saw some accelerated wear.
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#3287408 - 02/19/14 04:20 PM Re: Can a worn tie-rod end really cause such havoc? [Re: faramir9]
brandini Online   content


Registered: 10/08/09
Posts: 968
Loc: Richmond, VA
Teach her these words for next time: "show me".

A good mechanic will, a bad one will backpedal like crazy.
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#3287409 - 02/19/14 04:20 PM Re: Can a worn tie-rod end really cause such havoc? [Re: eljefino]
faramir9 Offline


Registered: 06/01/12
Posts: 294
Loc: PA
Originally Posted By: eljefino
Don't they check your front-end for PA state inspections? How has that gotten through?

I'm scratching my head, that spec is 10x the allowable. Either there was some sort of damage... pothole etc, but I don't really feel the geometry could have punched that tie-rod end without screwing other stuff up too.

Maybe parallel parking into a curb really hard did it?

In short, if they yanked on the knuckle, could they have found slop in the TRE to bring it back into alignment? You seem to have a worn part and also something bent.

Just my opinion...


They told me the tie rod end was badly worn, showed me in their computer that they recommended it be replaced almost six months ago, (confirmed by the boss), and showed me the toe spec before I approved the alignment work. That was enough for me. I trust the local Firestone here as much as I will ever trust a chain shop.

She bought the Taurus last June from a private seller and had it inspected for July, by a local mechanic who is not too picky. He mumbled something about "keep an eye on the suspension," apparently. She is a good driver in the seat of the car, but knows nothing of nitty-gritty stuff---while I know tires and basic shade-tree stuff but am no mechanic by BITOG standards.

A perfect storm, but luckily caught before the tires wore down to the nub before their time. Still: 3/32" in 5K miles? Oy.
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#3287414 - 02/19/14 04:22 PM Re: Can a worn tie-rod end really cause such havoc? [Re: brandini]
faramir9 Offline


Registered: 06/01/12
Posts: 294
Loc: PA
Originally Posted By: brandini
Teach her these words for next time: "show me".

A good mechanic will, a bad one will backpedal like crazy.


If I believed in emoticons I would add a smiley face here. Wink.
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#3287419 - 02/19/14 04:26 PM Re: Can a worn tie-rod end really cause such havoc? [Re: faramir9]
gathermewool Offline


Registered: 01/09/09
Posts: 3507
Loc: CT
Boss lady told me that her car felt fine with a nearly fully seized caliper(new pads down to metal on one side in a couple of months) that caused major shimmy while braking...
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#3287525 - 02/19/14 06:21 PM Re: Can a worn tie-rod end really cause such havoc? [Re: faramir9]
Sawdusted Offline


Registered: 12/25/12
Posts: 395
Loc: Lone Star, USA
I would have checked to make sure that the tie-rod end was really suspect and worn. If you can shake the wheel when you hold it at the 9-3 position, it's worn. I always suspect whenever I bring my vehicle into a chain shop like Firestone. I have had lots of experience with them upselling parts that do not need replacement. Make sure they show you the part that is actually failed/worn.

$305 with coupon actually sounds high. Let's do the breakdown with high estimates:
Tie-rod end, $40 (morocraft or Raybestos with shipping)
Tie-rod R/R labor $50 (1/2 hr @ $100 labor rate)
Alignment $70
Syn-blend oil change $50
Shop Charges/Taxes $20
Total: $230

Sounds like you got taken :P
But I do go to Firestone for new tires though. They have decent prices for new tires. I didn't have DiscTire where I lived last.
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#3287574 - 02/19/14 07:02 PM Re: Can a worn tie-rod end really cause such havoc? [Re: faramir9]
Chris142 Online   content


Registered: 06/05/03
Posts: 11316
Loc: apple valley, ca
Just a little too much or too little toe out will scrub the tires and wear them out quick. Your not going to feel it unless it's way out
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#3287896 - 02/20/14 01:28 AM Re: Can a worn tie-rod end really cause such havoc? [Re: faramir9]
Rand Offline


Registered: 08/20/03
Posts: 7459
Loc: Akron,Ohio
the answer to your question is no.

however thats way out so it was likely bent/damaged not "worn"
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#3287967 - 02/20/14 06:32 AM Re: Can a worn tie-rod end really cause such havoc? [Re: faramir9]
Hokiefyd Offline


Registered: 06/24/04
Posts: 11155
Loc: North Carolina
With toe that far out on one side, and if toe was correct on the other side, the steering wheel would have been very off-center while driving. The car simply wouldn't drive straight if you held the wheel straight. Measuring toe in full degrees instead of hundredths of a degree is obviously severely out of specification. Yes, it would wear a long-wear tire that quickly. That tire is literally being dragged sideways down the road.

I'm not impressed with the price either. The part should have been $40 at the most. I think Sawdusted's cost estimate is a fair one. They probably charged $80 for the part, though, and an hour of labor, and it adds up fast with markups like that.
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