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Challenger Performance
Alumi-Flex Tie Rod

By Chris Shontz
Challenger Alumi-Flex Tie Rod
Get professional alignment after install...
A short time ago, I got the chance to install and test a new tie rod manufactured by Challenger Performance Products. This tie rod, unlike most "heavy duty" variations, was advertised to be flexible. The rod would flex upon impact with rocks and other objects, and immediately restore itself after the collision. Honestly, I was skeptical. Without considering the advantages of having a tie rod that was designed to bend, I found myself presuming that the term "flexible" was synonymous with the terms "weak" or "flimsy". It was not long after I acquired the tie rod that I reconsidered what I boldly and naively assumed. Pun intended, Challenger Performance's "Alumi-Flex Tie Rod" set me straight.
Challenger Alumi-Flex Tie Rod

The "Alumi-Flex Tie Rod" is made out of special-treated aircraft aluminum that is designed to minimize potential fatigue when bending. The tie rod is said to be very spring-like and resilient, so after a deflection of up to 6" it will return back to its original shape and condition. After I inspected and installed this tie rod for the first time, I determined that although it was supposedly flexible, it was rigid, beefy, and moderately light. It also gets style points for being very shiny. The tie rod comes with two jamb nuts to replace the clamps on the stock tie rod, and secure its position on the tie rod ends.

Challenger Alumi-Flex Tie Rod
1 - Before

After I had it installed and aligned at OK Auto, 4wd & Tire, I drove around with it for a couple weeks, and did not experience any problems such as bumpsteer. This met my expectations. Next, I set out to bend it. Although my test platform was very crude, it proved extremely effective. I used a couple of wooden blocks, the jack that came with my TJ, and a rag to not scuff up the stylish finish - leave that to the rocks.

Challenger Alumi-Flex Tie Rod
2 - Mild Bend
I began jacking it up a little... just a couple inches, and then I brought the jack back down, and it was straight as can be. I gained confidence and really started to turn the jack up high. With each turn, I experienced more resistance. Finally, the tie rod was showing a very significant arc. I was encountering pretty much resistance, and to prevent parts from flying off, I decided to stop raising the jack.
Challenger Alumi-Flex Tie Rod
3 - Final Bend

At this point, an extreme amount of force was being transferred from the tie rod, through the tie rod ends, and into the steering knuckles. While the tie rod might have previously acted like a fuse, this "Alumi-Flex Tie Rod" was not. That is something to consider when presented with a similar scenario on the trail... something has to give, so consider carrying extra tie rod ends.

Challenger Alumi-Flex Tie Rod

One thing I immediately noticed was the perfect arc that had formed. The top surface of the jack is roughly 2" wide. The amount of area on the tie rod that is being forced upon is relatively small. The force seemed to be distributed throughout the entire length of the rod, and it didn't seem like it was even close to being creased by the pressure from the top of the jack. Next, I slowly turned the jack down and watched the tie rod neatly fall into its original position, seemingly unscathed from the rigors I've willed upon it. It was perfectly straight.

Challenger Alumi-Flex Tie Rod
4 - After
Throughout the test, the tie rod seemed to possess many uncanny physical properties. I began to wonder if this space-age material was found at the UFO crash site in Roswell, New Mexico, and was being used to manufacture tie rods for four-wheelers.
Challenger Alumi-Flex Tie Rod
In theory, all metal tie rods, despite composition, will suffer from some form of fatigue as a result of a bend from a collision with a rock or a stump. It is my belief that of all of the tie rods out there, this one is probably most resistant to fatiguing from such an impact, especially multiple and repetitive impacts. Could I have bent it if I tried? Probably, but due to other obtrusive suspension and steering components, it would take a jack-shaped object to push only the tie rod any further than I did in my test, which I feel was extremely conclusive.
Challenger Alumi-Flex Tie Rod
No more tie rod trail fixes...
I cannot account for long-term use of this tie rod, because it is so new, but I personally feel that it is a great product that should definately be considered by all four-wheelers, and if you're a bad spotter, it makes a great gift!

Challenger Performance
2032 W. Melinda Lane
Suite #2
Phoenix, AZ 85027

(623) 582-9400
OK Auto, 4wd & Tire
2621 State Route 57
Stewartsville, NJ 08886
(908) 454-6973

Chris Shontz

Chris Shontz is a staff writer for ROCKCRAWLER.com and resides in East Earl, PA. Chris spends most of his time trying to bend and break things.

Contact Chris at cshontz@rockcrawler.com


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