A creaking noise in my car led to a replacement of the tie rod in the steering mechanism for my front left tire.
Here’re some pictures of the tie rod that was removed:
You probably can’t see from these images, but the seal on the ball joint was broken, allowing the grease to escape and dirt and grime to enter. This was resulting in a rather prominent grinding when my steering wheel was turned more than 10 degrees to the left, more noticeable at low speeds and on warm days.
It was about $215 to replace the tie rod, including parts, labor, and realignment. Still happily giving my business to MotorConcepts (Concord, CA). They took me on short notice and turned it around immediately, so my backpacking trip is not affected at all. Hooray.
Previous work on my Passat: