A center (drag) link is a suspension component that is found on many road going vehicles equipped with steering gear box suspension systems. It is the component that links the steering gear box to the pitman arm so that the vehicle can be steered and maneuvered when the steering wheel is turned. As it is the center component that links both of the wheels and tie rod ends to the gearbox, it is a very important component that is critical to the overall handling and safety characteristics of the vehicle. When the center link becomes damaged or worn it will usually produce a few symptoms that may alert the driver of a potential problem that needs to be serviced.
1. Poor handling and car pulling to the left or right
One of the first symptoms of a bad or failing drag link is poor vehicle handling. A loose or worn drag link will have play which can negatively affect the vehicle’s steering. A bad center link may cause the vehicle to wander or pull to the left or right when traveling down the road.
2. Vibrations in steering wheel
Another symptom of a bad or failing drag link is excessive vibrations coming from the steering linkage. A loose or worn drag link can develop play which will cause vibrations in the steering wheel as the vehicle moves forward. A more severely worn drag link will not only vibrate, but may also produce noticeable noise and play in the steering wheel. Any sort of vibration and play in a steering system are unfavorable and will take away from the handling characteristics of the vehicle.
3. Uneven tire wear
Uneven tire wear is another symptom of a potential problem with the center link. If the center link develops any play or looseness the excessive suspension travel can cause the tires to wear unevenly. Uneven tire wear can lead to accelerated wear of the tire treads, which will shorten the service life of the tires.
The drag link is an important steering component and is critical to the overall handling and ride characteristics of the vehicle. For this reason, if you suspect that your vehicle’s drag link may be having an issue, have the vehicle’s steering and suspension diagnosed by a professional technician, such as one from YourMechanic, to determine if the your car needs a drag link replacement.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Center (Drag) Link and was authored by Ed Ruelas.