Bad or loose tie rod ends should always be replaced soon as signs is given. However new tie rod ends won’t necessarily end a tire wear problem unless the tie rods are properly adjusted after the new parts have been installed.
Changing the tie rod end, tie rods or a steering rack will also change the distance between the steering arms, which changes the toe too. So after the parts have been installed, some type of alignment equipment should be used to measure toe. Then and only then can the tie rods be adjusted to set toe within the vehicle producers specifications (be sure to use the specifications listed in an alignment reference manual or service manual, never ever “rule of thumb” settings, because every vehicle comes unique).
Some mechanic pattern when replacing tie rod ends is to count the number of turns it takes to unscrew a tie rod end, then to use same number of turns when screwing it back on. This only works if the same tie rod end is being reinstalled because the length of the tie rod end and threading may not be same on a new part. What’s more, there is no way to know if the original alignment setting was correct or not. The reason why toe should always be measured and readjusted as required after parts have been replaced.
Another thing to keep in mind about toe is that rear toe is just as important on front toe. Especially if the car has an independent rear suspension or rear toe adjustments. This often includes most front-wheel drive cars and minivans as well as some rear-wheel drive cars. Rear toe misalignment can create toe wear on both the front and rear tires by causing a steering pull to one side. Unlike front toe which is self-centering because of the steering linkage, a little difference in rear toe angles side-to-side produces something called a “thrust angle.” The result is the same as rear axle misalignment that causes the vehicle to pull or drag to one side.
Now how does this cause wear in the front tires? Note that front toe changes slightly anytime the wheels are steered to either side. And because the inside wheel follows a shorter arc than the outside wheel, the steering arms are angles slightly so the wheels tow-out with respect to one another when the wheels are turned to one side. The amount of toe-out is only a couple of degrees, but it helps to reduce scuffing and tire wear. If the rear wheels are misaligned, though, and the driver has to constant steer off center to keep the vehicle going straight, it means the front wheels are constantly toed-out. Over a period of time, this will cause toe wear to appear on the front tires. The solution? Check and realign rear toe as needed.
Rear-wheel drive vehicles and trucks that do not have independent rear suspensions have fixed rear toe settings, so no adjustments are required. But on most other vehicles, rear toe can be adjusted either by using factory adjustments (where available) or by installing aftermarket alignment aids such as toe/camber shims, offset bushings, etc.