Drag Link VS Tie Rod; What Functions Do They Provide?

Curious about how your car steering connects and works with the wheels? Drag link and tie rod are the answer. They are steering linkage suspension parts in the automotive steering system.

Want to remove your confusion regarding drag link VS tie rod? Drag link joints Pitman arm or Drop arm with steering arm to drag the wheels. Tie rod connects driver’s side wheel to the passenger’s side wheel in an automobile.

Knowing and comparing steering components like drag link and tie rod will keep you forward in the driving mechanism. You will be able to understand why your steering is having a problem and what the solution is.

Drag Link VS Tie Rod At A Glance 

Category  Drag Link  Tie Rod 
Component  Linkage suspension in steering system  Control Link suspension in steering linkage 
Function  Connects Pitman arm and steering gear  Connects the steering knuckle of both wheels
Role  Control or change tire rotation motion  Transfer and balance the steering force 
Linkage  A link between the steering gear and arm  A link between two wheels and steering gear 
Application  Drags the wheels according to the axis  Balance the turn according to the drag link 

Editor’s Note: RAM SLT vs. Big Horn

Differences Between Drag Link & Tie Rod

Design: Drag links have a cylindrical body with bend and straight shapes. There can be one bend or two, and the length is adjustable with different cars. 

Meanwhile, tie rod usually has a straight, slender structure consisting of two outer and inner sections.  

Connection: Drag link and tie rod work as a connection among different steering components. Drag link makes a connection between Pitman arm on steering gearbox and steering arm. 

On the other hand, a tie rod makes a connection between the passenger’s side wheel and the driver’s side wheel. In simple words, this device joints both right and left front wheels. 

Function: The critical difference between drag link and tie rod in their function. When the driver rotates the steering wheel, it commands the wheels to move or turn according to the steering axis. 

The steering gear gives direction to the drag link when and in which direction to turn. Drag link changes kinetics into steering kinetics to pull the tie rod. 

While a car turns, the wheels rotate at different speeds. Tie rod balances uneven tie wear and creates a low alignment.

So, the tie rod provides a pivot point for the wheels. The inner tie rod and the outer tie rod push and pull the wheel to make it turn. Tie rod ends offer grease fitting for the bearings to rotate smoothly. 

Similarities Between Drag Link & Tie Rod 

Linkage Suspension: Drag link and tie rod are important suspension parts for the steering linkage. The joint they made is significant for making turning possible when you steer your vehicle’s steering wheel. 

Steering Stabilizer: These two automotive devices serve as steering stabilizers. Drag links manage the steering box and steering arm to synchronize. Also, tie rods protect the control arm from being unstable while facing a bump. 

The Only Disadvantage Of Tie Rod & Drag Link

In this drag link VS tie rod game, the only drawback that both automotive linkage parts have is high maintenance. 

You have to keep them lubed and clean. As they are constantly exposed to dirt, dust, water, snow, and more, they are likely to get corroded and rusty. 

You need to regularly grease and lubricate the spindle, Heim joint, axle, track bar, ball joint, and other linkages-related items to add time to your vehicles’ lifespan.

Remember, unused, dirty, and dry tie rod ends will cause breaking and unbalancing of the steering system.   

Drag Link VS Center Link 

Many people think and consider drag link and center link as the same thing. But there is a difference between them regarding their connection. 

Drag link primarily connects Pitman arm or Drop arm with the steering arm of the steering system. However, the center link connects the Pitman arm or Drop arm with the idler arm on the steering suspension. 

The steering gears push and pull the center link when you turn your steering wheel. 

Here the center link holds everything together with the idler arm joint.

In some modern vehicles, the functional linkage suspension connects the idler and Pitman arm. It is known as the center drag link. It also connects the inner tie rod end and outer tie rod end. 

Four Link Steering System VS Rack And Pinion

These are two common steering systems used by most vehicles. The primary difference they hold is that the four-link steering system uses a drag link but the rack and pinion do not. 

Four Link Steering System  Rack & Pinion 
Suspension and control elements have an independent operation. Linear motion of the steering rack is caused by pinion rotation
The strut ascended on the support arm supports the car steering  A gear connects a toothed bar and the bar is connected to a set of tie rods
A track rod and four rod-shaped wishbones guide the wheels  Give a linear motion by translating  steering wheel’s circular motion 
In the border area, it performs as a lane corrector Serves gear reduction to make the wheel turning easy 
Per wheel, it features 1 trailing arm and 3 transverse arms  The axial road and tie rod connection join with the spindle

Signs Of Disturbing Drag Link & Tie Rod 

Inadequate or interrupted drag links and tie rods can harm the steering system and the vehicle. You need to be aware of the symptoms that show you have problems with your tie rod and drag link. 

Uneven Alignment: If your car keeps bouncing or leaning towards one side, your tie rods are broken. A bad tie rod creates uneven tire wear. This problem prevents your vehicle from balancing its position on an even surface and while driving. 

Steering Vibration & Drifts: Your steering system will collapse if you have a problematic drag link. Your steering motion will not work correctly. Also, you will be having drifting problems and vibrations in your steering wheel and box. 

Weird Sounds: If you start hearing strange sounds like knocking and clunking from your car, it is most probably for your loosen connection of suspensions. If the joints of the nuts get loosened, it is because of a bad tie rod connection. 

Replace your problematic steering suspension as soon as possible with a new set of drag links & tie rods and related products from Amazon.

People Often Ask 

How Is A Tie Rod Different Than A Center Link?

The Center link connects the Pitman arm or Drop arm with the idler arm in a steering system. Tie rod connects passenger’s side wheel and driver’s side wheel for better turning and linkage suspension. 

How To Check For Bad Tie Rod End Wear?

If you have problematic tie rod end wear, your steering will start to vibrate. Additionally, you will be hearing clunking or knocking sounds from the steering system. Your car alignment will be uneven. 

When Does The Tie Rod Ends Need To Be Replaced?

Every time you do excessive movement, check your steering linkage suspensions. Turn your steering wheel backward and forward to check them. If it makes sounds, it’s time to replace the tie rod. 

When Should The Wheel Alignment Be Done?

We recommend doing your wheel alignment every two or three years. To be secure and safe, you can align your wheels and check the steering suspensions every time you change your oil. 

When Do The Ball Joints Need To Be Replaced?

Your vehicle’s ball joints need to be replaced if you feel any loss in their connection due to excessive movement, driving, bumps, and dust. 

Are There Other Names For Drag Link And Tie Rod?

Both of them are automotive steering linkage suspensions. A Drag link is also called a center link or track bar. Tie rod has different names like tie bar and hanger rod. 

The Ultimate Difference

If you look at the use and functions of the drag link and tie rod, they are not the same things to compare. They both have significant roles in the steering system. Without them moving and turning a car would be impossible. 

If you play drag link VS tie rod, drag link connects steering box to the Pitman arm to command turning and tie rod interlinks left side front wheel with right side front wheel to fulfill and balance the turning command. 

Drag link and tie rod are not interchangeable or alternative to each other. These two suspensions work as a team to provide a comfortable steering system. Taking care of these automotive devices is taking care of your car and life. 

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