I saw this video the other day and it made me think about the steel and aluminum tie rods and drag links that we build and why people should choose one over the other. The video didn't tell us anything that our own testing hasn't shown but I thought this would be a good conversation starter....
We build both steel and aluminum tie rods and drag links so our customers can have a choice. Our thoughts are that some people like steel and some people like aluminum so lets just offer both.
I don't agree with everything the guy says in the video and, I think to be a true test he should have lifted the tires off the ground with the aluminum like he did with the steel to put the full weight of the vehicle on it. All that aside, what this video clearly shows is that the aluminum is very flexible and has the memory to bounce back to it's original shape after being flexed. The steel is not as flexible, much stiffer, and when flexed to extremes it may hold the bend.
So why choose one over the other? It all boils down how you use the vehicle and whether you want stiffness or flexibility:
Steel: For us the steel is a better choice for everything from highway driving to overland and fast desert style racing like Norra 1000. The steel has less flex to it and offers a tighter feel and control. With this style of driving you are less likely to really drop the tie rod onto or drive the tie rod into a rock (I said less likely).
Another benefit of steel is that you may be able to fix a bend in the field. It's also less expensive.
Aluminum: Aluminum is the preferred choice for serious crawlers where there is more potential to drive into or land the tie rod onto a rock. In this case the flexibility will take stress off of the other components in your steering during the impact and the memory will let everything bounce back into place once you have her landed on all four wheels.
The Aluminum also has a bling factor to it.
Myth: Steel is much heavier then Aluminum. Our 1 3/4" DOM steel tube with 1/4" walls is only a couple of pounds heavier than our 2" Aluminum Rod on the Jeep JL/JT set-up. The difference is negligible in the scale of the vehicle.
I would love to hear your comments and experiences on this topic. Please chime in below...