I recently had the same problem, the mechanic said it was my steering knuckle, I made the mistake of waiting to get this prob fixed, and my steering became harsh, sometimes locking up or snapping in a certain direction, I finally got it fixed tho
I just replaced a lower ball joint on a honda civic that was making that crackling or creaking noise. To determine which joint it is , lift the rubber boot with a screwdriver and spray penetrating oil into the joint (like a rhumatism injection). If you got the right joint the noise will dissapear, only temporarily though.
If you can find what it is and do the work yourself, fine, but if not take it to a mech., but whatever you do,
FIX IT NOW.
You may get by with the noise for a while, and you may also find yourself goin down the freeway doin 80 and both front wheels decide they want to point different directions.
it may seem like a small argument between wheels, but it usually ends up in a big fight.
If you already are sure it's the tie rod end, it's an easy fix. I changed both mine in just an hour (i have air tools) and if you carefully mark where the tie rod sits, it's fairly easy to get the new one in without needing a front end alignment.