When it comes to tie rod selection, things are actually pretty overwhelming. There’s seemingly endless brand names, various material types, clevis-type (or not), and of course a wide range of prices. Luckily for you, we’ve tested a handful of these and are going to breakdown our top picks. Rest easy knowing that our recommendations have been absolutely put to the test. We’ve had some serious race miles on these things and are prepared to tell you which ones work, which ones may not, and which are just a tad too costly (for most).-Team Draco Motorsports
This is how things are gonna go:
- Let’s talk basics.
- Materials to look for.
- Bump-steer and why it sucks.
- The pesky stock inner tie-rods (to retain or not).
- Getting to the point.
- Our top 4 picks and why.
- All things considered.
- Summary and some final food for thought.
SCROLL TO THE END FOR OUR TOP 4 TIE RODS OR READ THE WHOLE THING TO GET WAY SMARTER.
Let’s talk basics.
Ok, so- for starters- you may be wondering what all these various aluminum numbers mean (6061, 7075, etc.) and how they rack/stack against their steel counterparts. Numbers tell the story a little simpler, so here’s a table to clear things up.
|Material Type||Yield Strength, Ultimate Yield (psi)||Modulus of Elasticity (ksi)|
|6061 Aluminum||~37,000 – 42,000||~10,000|
|7075 Aluminum||~67,000 – 76,000||~10,400|
|DOM Steel||~60,000 – 70,000||~30,000|
|Chromoly||~63,000 – 97,000||~30,000|
The yield strength is the amount of pressure required to start permanently bending components. Ultimate yield strength is the amount of pressure it takes to completely snap the material (aka your tie rod) and result in a bad day. Modulus of elasticity is used for determining the strain level of the material but that’s for a different conversation.
Anyhow, the difference between the ultimate yield and the regular yield highlights a key characteristic between aluminum and steel. Your steel parts will bend and deform for quite some time before they SNAP and let go. With aluminum, there’s not a ton of fair warning- once that yield level is reached it doesn’t take long for things to break.
Regarding aluminum, 6061 or 7075 is the common dilemma you’ll have when looking for tie rods. Obviously 7075 is MUCH stronger but it’s significantly more expensive to machine and thus a pricier option. Another benefit of 7075 aluminum is that it tends to be much more flexible than its 6061 counterpart. Make no mistake, however, 6061 aluminum is far from ‘weak’.
Bump-steer and why it sucks.
This isn’t a full-blown technical article so we’ll keep things brief. Essentially, bump-steer occurs when the steering is unintentionally impacted throughout the suspension’s travel. Essentially, when tie-rod lengths or angles don’t quite line up across all the steering components, the wheel is pulled in (or pushed out) to compensate. Bump-steer’s primary issue is that it lowers high-speed stability/comfort. The Can-Am X3 has a slight issue on the angle side of things when it comes to bump-steer: a common item you’ll come across is a bump-steer delete misalignment that attempts to remedy this (usually included with the tie-rod and mounts to the outer heim joint).
Inner tie rods (to retain or not).
MOST tie rods for your UTV are going to reuse the stock ‘ball socket’ inner that attaches to the steering rack. If you drive aggressively, expect to replace these inner units frequently. Fortunately, it takes A LOT to completely break the OEM inners on your Can-Am X3. There a lot tougher than most people expect but will need semi-frequent service to ensure minimal ‘sloppy-ness’. On the higher end tie rods, you may have noticed a clevis-type inner: these are exponentially stronger and will keep the steering nice and tight for a very long while. Personally, we use the stock inner types (ball socket) because the clevis can contribute to a small level of bump steer (or so we’ve heard).
Getting to the point.
Our Top 4 Picks and Why.
1. CA TECHNOLOGIES
Seriously, these things are TOUGH. We’ve had some intense races on these things and the CA tie-rods didn’t even think about bending. We absolutely love these and the hexagonal tubing is the icing on the cake as far as looks go. There’s no other tie rod on the market that looks like this and for $190, the price is nearly as good as it gets.
2. CT RACE WORX
Honestly, the CT tie-rod easily ties for first place: the only reason we have it as number two on the list is because the CA rods just look that awesome. Technically, the CT tie-rods are even stronger since they’re built out of 7075 aluminum. The price is equally incredible at about $190. We ran several race seasons on these tie rods and had an incredible experience.
For the no-compromises racer, these are without-a-doubt the strongest tie-rods that money can buy for your Can-Am X3 (or Polaris RZR). Period. Clevis-type inner units, 7075 aluminum, hex centers for maximum utility, heat-treated, lifetime warranty: everything you need in a tie rod is right here. We have yet to race on a set of these but, from all that we’ve heard, feel that these would be ‘right at home’. The drawback? A price of $499.
4. LM UTV
LM-UTV is a small company based out of Arizona that builds some phenomenal tie rods. We’ve never raced on a set of these but have ordered some for a different vehicle and were very impressed with the quality. The price is slightly more attainable at $329. All things considered, these are likely the closest competitor to the ZRP but without the racing heritage and big name. We’re biased to ZRP since they’re a phenomenal group of individuals and are, arguably, more devoted to the evolution of the sport (and their customers) than nearly all of their competitors.
All things considered.
We don’t get ANY support from ANY of the previously mentioned companies. We take our recommendations pretty seriously and feel strongly that the four tie rods mentioned above are the best products on the market for your UTV. There’s a lot of stuff out there on the market, some even cheaper than our #1 and #2 picks, but just remember that you always get what you pay for.
That’s all. Talk soon.
Driver of the #428 Draco Motorsports Polaris RZR. Co-Driver for the #804 Can-Am X3 during King of the Hammers. Ultra4!!