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Services > Auto Q & A > Ball Joints

Question: How do ball joints work?

Answer: A ball-and-socket joint is a joint where a spherical head of one part connects to a spherical cavity of another. These joints allow for freedom of movement in all directions. We have ball-and-socket joints in our shoulders and hips. They allow our arms and legs to move in all directions. Now imagine if your body didn’t have any ball-and-socket joints. Your arm and leg movement would be very limited. The same thing applies to ball joints in vehicles. Ball joints are a flexible ball-and-socket joint that connect a vehicle’s control arms to the steering knuckles and act as a pivot point. Ball joints allow a vehicle’s suspension to move up and down, while also allowing the wheels to steer left or right. They are found on a vehicle’s front suspension because the front suspension is what allows a vehicle to make turns. Most front suspensions have one or two ball joints, and some rear suspensions may have ball joints also. Ball joints allow vehicles to carry heavier loads and to travel over all kinds of surfaces such as: over potholes, uneven surfaces, and over rocks/bumps. They allow tires to stay in constant contact with the road surface by allowing wheels to move up or down depending on the surface. The ball joints allow a wheel to stay in constant contact with these uneven surfaces while continuing to steer.

Question: Why do I need to replace my ball joints?

Answer: Ball joints will eventually wear from the amount of movement and friction they undergo(eliminate comma) and can become loose. A ball joints is made to fit tightly into its steel casing; excessive wear will allow for more room for the ball to move in the socket, which can affect wheel alignment, tire wear, and suspension noise. Bad ball joints can lead to abnormal wearing of your tires. A ball joint’s lubrication can also dry out. This will allow road water to get inside the ball joint and will eventually lead to rust. As ball joints wear, this can hamper your ability to steer and control the vehicle. If a ball joint fails, a vehicle’s suspension can collapse or the wheel could fall off causing the vehicle to lose control. A bad ball joint is extremely dangerous and can cause serious accidents.

Question: When do you need to replace ball joints?

Answer: Any joint that exceeds the vehicle manufacturer’s maximum allowable wear needs to be replaced. Ball joints typically last 70,000 to 150,000 miles depending on their usage and road conditions. Clunking noises, poor handling, pulling, and abnormal wearing of your tires are all signs of a worn ball joint. If you see uneven tread wear patterns on your tire, you should have your ball joints checked. This can save you much money in the long run. Ball joints should be checked whenever the vehicle’s lubrication is checked. If the rubber boot which holds the joint’s lubrication is damaged or missing, chances are water has gotten into the joint. This can lead to rust and wearing, and your ball joint should be replaced. You can also check on your own to see if your ball joints are bad. You can give your tire a strong tug and see if you feel any extra pull or play. You can also jack the tire up and give the top and bottom of the tire a pull. If you feel any extra pull or play, you should have your ball joints checked immediately by a professional.