Though 4x4 vehicles come out of the production line ready to tackle rugged terrains, there are areas where you as an off-road junkie will have to invest your time and money in customization.
For instance, upgrading the transmission, making modifications to the chassis, or upgrading the wheels are some of the popular upgrades that are done on 4x4 vehicles.
While each of these upgrades can significantly improve the performance of your 4x4, it is important to note that you also need to consider upgrading the stock steering of your 4x4 to accommodate these updates.
This is where upgrading the A-arm comes into play and it usually involves introducing specialized links or joint types which will improve the flexibility and give more room for movement.
One of the most sought-after choices among enthusiasts is the Heim joints over the traditional ball joints or tie joints. This article will discuss in detail Heim Joints & Tie-Rod ends along with the usability of these links in your offroad machine to give you a better idea of choosing between the two.
What is a Heim Joint?
Heim Joint otherwise known as a spherical Heim bearing rod end or simply spherical bearings is a type of pivot joint commonly used in race steering and suspension systems of 4x4 automobiles. These joints were originally designed to be used in aircraft and slowly found their way to the automobile industry.
These joints are used in places where some space is required for linkage which is created when modifications are done on the suspension, race steering, or chassis of the vehicle.
What you saw above is a picture of a threaded Heim joint and as seen in the image it has a threaded shaft on one side and a ball swivel Heim bearing on the other. The threaded shaft will be drilled past to accommodate mounting hardware, especially a bolt. Thus, a new flexible joint will be created which permits a lot of free movement.
Though Heim joints can offer additional angular movement, they don’t last long as they are not designed to withstand impacts. But because of the additional angular movement it offers, it is still a popular choice among enthusiasts.
What are the uses of Heim Joints?
Heim Joints are used in places where you need extra flexibility without compromising rigidity. When jeeps and crawler buggies try to jump over obstacles, additional articulations at the suspensions and steering can be taken care of by a Heim's joint. The load generated at these joints wouldn’t be easy for a stock set up to bear, but Heim joints can bear them without any deflection. These strong and durable upgrades to an off-road or a racing car are hence the favorite for hard-core off-road enthusiasts.
When compared to the normal rubber bushings in the stock setup, it is the camber adjustments these Heim's joints are capable of doing that make them stand out more than the tie-rod ends.
What are the drawbacks of Heim Joints?
Heim's joints require compatible A-arms that are specially designed to hold them, which will make the joint options limited. Because they serve their purpose and are a worthy investment, 4x4 enthusiasts don’t mind sourcing these special A-arms for their needs.
Being weaker than ball joints, Heim joints can’t take the hard hits from the rough patches. Moreover, Heim's joints require a lot more attention, they need to be cleaned now and then, especially after a race or off-road weekends. Using WD-40 to clean them after the track time will improve the lives of these joints, or else you will have to pay the price as it will attract corrosion on the threads or welds.
As said, they need extra care after every track time, proper adjustment of these heims should be checked as well. Even with the additional safety of the jam nut, there is the possibility that they can skid which can bring unnecessary vibration into the system which will be visibly noticeable over time. A periodic checkup for any gunk build-up at the rod ends can alleviate the chances of getting those chances of any wear and tear. Proper lubrication after every wash into the joints will make the functioning butter smooth but also will create a water-repelling layer on the surface.
Are Heim Joints Street legal?
While there is no specific answer to that question, it would be region-specific. Before the installation process, please make sure that the law in your region permits Heim Joints. Some state inspection manuals have strict regulations against the suspension and steering modifications that could fail your car.
In short, the invention and introduction of Heim's joints into the automotive industry has been a great leap. Rather than using any rubber bushings or tie rod ends in hard drive vehicles such as trucks or buggies, a team with a better strength has a purpose to serve.
The life of these joints at the suspension and the steering is no match to the conventional rubber or polymer bushings in stock set up. The camber adjustments and the articulations these joints have on offer are a great advantage that can lure the best out of the suspension system.
You must source the right product from the right seller to get the best out of any modification.
If you are looking out in the market for such a seller, we request you to at one of the best prices available in the market. You certainly receive customer support from this initiative as well. Happy off-roading.