How to Check if a Ball Joint is Bad
Ball joints are an important suspension component found on virtually all modern vehicles.They are a spherical bearing in a socket that serve as one of the main suspension pivot points connecting the control arms of the vehicle to the steering knuckles.
The front ball joints allow the front wheels and suspension to move back and forth as well as up and down when the steering wheel is turned and the vehicle is traveling over the road.
The following are some of the symptoms of a failing front ball joints that can alert the driver a problem has occurred.
1)Clunking noises coming from the front suspension
As ball joints wear out they become loose in the socket and rattle and knock as the suspension travels up and down over the road.Worn ball joints may knock or clunk when traveling on rough roads,speed bumps,or when turning.Usually,the clunking will get continuously louder as the ball joints wear,or until they eventually completely fail and break.
2)Excessive vibration from the front of the vehicle
Worn ball joints will be loose in their sockets and vibrate excessively as the vehicle is in motion.The vibration will usually start from the affected ball joint,either from the right or left sides of the vehicle.In some cases,the vibration may be felt through the steering wheel as well.
3)Steering wandering to the left or right
When the ball joints are in good condition,and the wheels are in proper alignment the steering wheel should stay mostly straight and direct in response.Worn ball joints will cause the vehicle steering to wander or drift to the left or right,which will require the driver to compensate for the issue.
Both Pics above are one of the worst things that can happen to your car when driving on a bad ball joint.
Excessively worn ball joints can break,causing the wheel to collapse and control of the vehicle to be lost.
If a ball joint fails,the results can be dangerous as the wheel’s angle becomes unconstrained, causing loss of control.Because the tire will be at an unintended angle,the vehicle will come to an abrupt halt,damaging the tires.Also, during failure,debris can damage other parts of the vehicle.
Maintaining And When To Replace Ball Joints
Ball joints should have grease added to them every time the vehicle’s oil is changed(every 3,000 miles).
Ball joints may last 70,000 to 150,000 miles or more.Their lifespan depends on usage,road conditions and exposure to road splash and salt.If a joint is worn,it has reached the end of its service life and should be replaced.Worn ball joints can be dangerous and should be replaced by a professional mechanic.