Tie rods are a major part of your steering-tire system. Should your tie rods break, you could be at a serious risk of losing control of your car, resulting in an accident. However, before your tie rods fail completely, you should notice some symptoms and warning signs that the tie rods have started to go bad.
Shaky Steering Wheel
Typically, the first sign that tie rod is bad or starting to fail is a shaky steering wheel. This happens because the steering wheel is beginning to lose control or "communication" with the wheels. As this starts to happen, the steering wheel will fight for control, resulting in shaking and vibrating. This can be increasingly noticeable when you try to turn the wheel.
The second sign that a tie rod is bad and at risk of breaking is a vibrating car. At this stage, the steering wheel has lost nearly all control over the wheels, and as a result, the tires will start to move involuntarily and shake on their own. You will feel this symptom more as you speed up, slow down or as you turn corners.
The last sign--and most severe--of a bad tie rod is when your car starts wandering. At this point, the tie rods have completely failed or have been severely damaged. The steering will have also lost most, if not all, of its control over the wheels. Without control, the car will wander without any input from the steering wheel. This can result in a car accident and/or serious injuries. If you feel that your car "wanders," you should take it to a mechanic immediately.