Home Diagnosis and TroubleshootingSuspension and Steering Problems Are Inner Tie Rods The Same On Both Sides & Interchangeable?

Are Inner Tie Rods The Same On Both Sides & Interchangeable?

by Jordan Harris
Are Inner Tie Rods The Same On Both Sides

With machines as complex as cars, ensuring that you double and triple-check all measurements is a critical thing to do. Speaking of fitment, are inner tie rods the same on both sides, and are they interchangeable?

In the real world, this answer varies. Some vehicles might have identical inner tie rods on both sides of the car. But, on other cars, the inner tie rods on either side vary in dimensions and aren’t interchangeable.

Therefore, while many cars commonly feature symmetrical inner tie rods that are interchangeable on both sides, this isn’t a hard and fast rule, as older or more specialized models have differing sizes left and right.

For the latter type, interchanging the left and right inner tie rods could lead to serious steering issues and other hazards. Therefore, it’s vital to consult a car’s owner’s or service manual to research beforehand.

Should Both Tie Rods Be The Same Length

Before we look into whether or not inner tie rods should be the same size on both sides, a bit of context to what the inner tie rods on your car are… Inner tie rods are a vital part of your car’s steering system.

Essentially, they connect your car’s steering rack to the steering knuckle, ensuring smooth and responsive steering. Their primary role is to transfer the movement of the steering wheel to the wheels.

Thus, it allows for controlled and stable driving. As I mentioned earlier, in most vehicles that you may see on the road today, the inner tie rods are indeed the same on both sides, and are interchangeable.

However, this isn’t a universal rule that applies to all cars, as there are some vehicles that have different designs and sizes for the left and right inner tie rods. Therefore, they’re not interchangeable.

From what I’ve noticed, for certain older or classic cars, the inner tie rods can differ in both length and the thread size on either side. As such, the interchangeability of the inner tie rods depends on the car.

Are Inner Tie Rods Interchangeable

Are Inner Tie Rods The Same On Both Sides

In those vehicles where the inner tie rods are identical on either side – left and right – then yes, they can be swapped out from one side to another. Interchangeability is thus possible with these vehicles.

However, in vehicles where the inner tie rods are distinct left and right, interchangeability is not possible. Different car makes and models can have varying designs and dimensions for their inner tie rods.

For instance, based on some of the discussions that I’ve found online, some folks noted that their specific car model has similarly-sized inner tie rods on either side. As such, they could interchange them easily.

On the other hand, I’ve also seen a handful of chatter, such as on the 8th-gen Honda Civic forums, the folks there mentioned how there are noticeable variations in the thread diameter between old and new models.

With that in mind, it’s essential that you refer to your vehicle’s specific owner’s, service, or repair manual, and do your research diligently. Alternatively, you can also consult a mechanic about your inner tie rods.

Why Are Inner Tie Rod Sizes Different

Speaking of, why is it that inner tie rods can vary in sizing and overall dimensions on either side? Well, for the most part, it all comes down to the specific engineering requirements and design of a specific car.

Given that it’s a crucial part of your car’s steering system, the design and dimensions of the inner tie rods need to account for factors like the steering geometry of your car. Or, the amount of load distribution.

Manufacturers design steering systems to optimize a car’s handling, stability, and safety. In some cases, this involves differentiating the size or shape of the tie rods on each side to accommodate these factors.

These would typically include, as I highlighted earlier, a car’s steering geometry, weight distribution, and the space constraints of the car. Moreover, over time, automakers often update and modify their cars.

These updates can include changes to the steering system, leading to variations in tie rod sizes between different model years. For instance, a newer vehicle model might have a different suspension setup.

Thus, it requires distinct inner tie rod dimensions compared to its predecessor – just like that 8th-gen Civic from earlier. Additionally, when it comes to car customization and mods, these play a major role, too.

Custom setups might require different lengths and strengths on each side of your suspension or steering system, to achieve desired handling characteristics or to accommodate other modified components.

Should You Check For Compatibility Beforehand

Are Inner Tie Rods The Same On Both Sides

Once again, in vehicles where the tie rods are identical on both sides, they can be interchanged between the left and right sides without any issues. This can be particularly handy with repairs and replacements.

Elsewhere, in vehicles where the tie rods are designed differently for each side, attempting to interchange them could lead to serious steering problems. Subsequently, you have to be wary about doing research.

Having spoken to a few mechanics about this, they all come to the same conclusion… It’s crucial that you verify the compatibility of tie rods for specific cars, especially when dealing with aftermarket parts.

Such minute discrepancies highlight the importance of not assuming uniformity across different vehicle types or models. You’ll have to take this into account to ensure the overall safety of your vehicle.

How To Know If Your Inner Tie Rods Are The Same Size

There are a few ways to tell if your car’s inner tie rods are the same size on both sides. And, whether or not they’re interchangeable. Here are some easy ways for you to undertake some due diligence…

  • Consult the Vehicle’s Manual – The first and most reliable step is to consult your vehicle’s manual. It will typically provide clear information and details on the specifications of the tie rods and whether they are interchangeable on both sides. If your owner’s manual doesn’t have it, you could also consult a detailed repair or service manual for additional information.
  • Verify with a Professional Mechanic – For those who are unsure, consulting with a professional mechanic could provide clarity. Mechanics have access to detailed databases and experience with various vehicles, makes, and models, and could offer accurate advice on interchangeability. This is usually what I suggest when you’re still uncertain or haven’t yet come to a solid conclusion.
  • Cross-Reference Part Numbers – When purchasing replacement inner tie rods, cross-referencing the part numbers is crucial. Even if those tie rods may look similar, different part numbers may indicate variations and slight differences in specifications or dimensions that might not be visually apparent.
  • Use Online Forums and Communities – Online car forums, discussions, and communities can be incredibly valuable resources for acute, specific info like this. Like-minded owners of the same vehicle model such as yours often share their experiences and knowledge. These would naturally include specifics about inner tie rod interchangeability and sizing.

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