Heim joints look like a simple device. They are a rod end that can be used in many applications on a vehicle or machinery. Before choosing to use heim joints on your steering or suspension you should know a few things.
What is a heim joint?
Heim joints have many names, they are referred to as rose joints, rod ends, spherical bearings, and many other names. They are all the same and do the same job.
Heim joints started in the aviation industry. The first joints were developed by Nazi Germany in the 1930's. The HG Heim Company and Rose Bearings LTD were the first companies to start making these joints for the allied forces. The name Heim joint and Rose joint refers to the original manufacturers. The names are now used as a generic term for the type of joints they used to manufacturer.
What is a heim joint used for?
Heim joints are commonly used in custom cars, race cars, lowriders, race buggies, lawn tractors, shifter linkages, boats, industrial machines and motorcycles. Pretty much anywhere you need a joint that can flex but needs to stay rigid.
Many rock crawler buggies and Jeeps use heim joints in the suspensions and steering. They need a lot of articulation when going over the rocks and the heim joints can handle the loads and not have any deflection. The large size joints are perfect for racing applications, they are strong and durable. Steering benefits from the strength of the heim joints, many use heim joints as an upgrade to their tie rod ends.
Track bars (trac-Bar) diagonal links, or panhard bar will also benefit from using heim joints. The amount of movement you can get out of a heim joint is much greater than a rubber bushing. The adjustability of the heim joints is a great attraction of the joint. You can fine tune the length of your links or bars to make precise adjustments for netter handling or proper geometry.
Are heim joints legal for use on the street?
We can not advise you on your specific state and local laws. You should do research to see if they are legal in your state. Some states with safety inspections may not pass steering that uses heim joints. Other states have no inspections. Is it up to you to find out what is legal in your area.
Why you should use heim joints.
Heim joints are not a great solution for every joint, they are a good solution to many. Off road buggies and trucks use them on the suspension joints and the steering joints. Using heim joints can be stronger than using tie rod ends or rubber suspension bushings. The longevity of heim joints is far superior to rubber or poly bushings in racing or off road applications. The greater adjustability is a major factor in race cars. Being able to fine tune your suspension or locate your axle is a great advantage.
Heim joints give you a great option for adjustability, strength and life span over rubber bushings or tie rod ends. Make sure you check your local laws in you are planning to use heim joints on a street driven vehicle.