We spend a lot of time around here fussing over a truck’s suspension bits that actually hold the truck up. Unsurprisingly, there are other components under there that need attention while planning out an off-road build. Specifically, those components that allow the truck to steer.
The outermost extremities of the steering linkage, and arguably the most vulnerable, are the tie rods. The tie rods are links that connect whatever the engineers decided to use for a steering gear to the steering knuckle assemblies where the wheels are attached.
From the factory, tie rods are generally fairly well protected and durable enough for most daily-driving duties. Things get a little more complicated, however, when the truck gets lifted with larger tires and starts heading off road.
The first issue to think about is when larger tires are installed, larger forces get bestowed on the steering and suspension bits. This gets compounded when the truck leaves pavement and gets subjected to the lateral (from the side) forces involved with going over the rocks and ruts associated with off-highway travel.
The other concern is the objects that can strike steering components, especially while travelling off-road. All those rocks, logs, and ruts can strike the steering and suspensions components of a truck and the tie rods are typically the first components to get damaged in the event of an impact.
Probably the weakest part of the tie rod is where it threads into the outer tie rod end, which is the a ball joint-like apparatus that gets attached to the steering knuckle. The tie rod itself is typically less than an inch in diameter and, regardless of whether it gets hit by an obstacle or gets compressed by a force to the tire, it tends to kink at that point where it meets the outer tie rod end.
Once a tie rod is bent, the vehicle’s alignment is sent drastically out of specification. The structural integrity of the tie rod is also comprised, putting it at a high risk of breaking, which would result in a complete loss of control of the vehicle’s steering. In any situation where a tie rod is bent, the vehicle should be considered unsafe to drive until a new part can be installed. This can be rather inconvenient is such an incident occurs off the highway and away from a tow truck’s range.
There are ways to protect your tie rods and the easiest and most cost-effective solution is to install a set of tie rod sleeves. Tie rod sleeves (as their name implies) are metal sleeves that slide over the truck’s tie rods to offer additional protection against damage.
Installation is fairly simple and the sleeves are threaded so they can sit snugly against the outer tie rod ends. Once properly installed, they significantly reinforce the tie rods and eliminate the worries of tie rod damage from minor impacts.
Make sure you add a set of Supreme Suspensions tie rod sleeves to your next build! We currently offer solutions for many GM and Toyota models. We are continuing to develop tie rod sleeves for many other models so check back frequently as we add additional products.