Would a bad tie rod end cause the steering wheel to jump to the left really hard or the right really hard when going over bad roads?
it could be but it sounds like a lower ball joint. Need more info to help diagnose. Does the steering wheel stay in place once the car settles or is the steering loose all the time? Do you have any play in the steering? What happens when you first go into a corner?
One of my ball joints is gone on the same wheel. Steering feel is loose, once i go over a bad “spot” on the road, it causes the steering wheel to swing to the left and/or right, depending on the spot. Going into corners is no problem. Feels okay.
get that ball joint fixed first. It may fix all your problems. As the ball joint gets loaded and unloaded due to the “spot on the road”, it is changing the position which will affect your steering wheel. You may have damaged other stuff in the process but get the ball joint fixed before your hub decides to go for a walk.
How do u know when a ball joint as gone bad by visual inspection? I have the same play in my steering wheel also!
The easiest way to check ball joints is to raise the car, and holding the tire at top and bottom, try twisting the wheel in/out to see if there is looseness in the joints. Not left and right as if steering, but up/down as if changing camber.
Also, try putting a bar under the tire when raised, and pry up from underneath the bar. If you feel or see vertical movement without the control arms moving, there you go. But, ball joints can stick, and sometimes require a lot of force to move- don’t knock your car off the jack…