First of all, what is a tie rod and why is it important to the overall health and drivability of your vehicle?
Well, your tie rod is part of the steering mechanism of your vehicle. It's a slender structural rod that is used as a tie and is capable of carrying tensile loads only. The tie rod consists of an inner and an outer end. An example of tie rods are the spokes on the wheels of a bicycle.
Tie rods transmit force from the steering center link or the rack gear to the steering knuckle. This causes the wheel to turn. The outer tie rod end connects with an adjusting sleeve. This allows the length of the tie rod to be adjustable. This type of adjustment is necessary to set a vehicles alignment angle.
If a vehicles steering and braking systems aren't checked regularly, at least once a year, a worn tie rod can go unnoticed until it starts to cause significant damage. A worn tie rod can cause a variety of issues such as erratic steering and also major tire wear which can be expensive to fix. This video goes over in detail on how you can tell if you already have a bad tie rod.