Ball Joints - Everything You Need to Know

Apr 7


Emily Sara

Emily Sara

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You'll be surprised to learn that a worn ball joint is one of the most common causes of MOT failure. To save time and trouble, check MOT status of your car and plan a pre-MOT inspection with your local technician ahead of time to ensure that it passes the MOT test the first time.


The ball joint,Ball Joints - Everything You Need to Know Articles like all of the steering and suspension systems, is a safety-critical component. The ride and handling of a vehicle might be harmed by a damaged ball joint.

However, if you fail, the consequences might be disastrous.

What to look for in a deteriorating joint and how to fix it before it fails completely.

What is the definition of a ball joint?

A ball joint is a component of a vehicle's steering and suspension system that is most commonly found at the front end.

Simply said, it serves as a pivot between the vehicle's wheels and suspension, letting the vehicle to be steered while maintaining a smooth ride.

Because the ball joint, like a human hip joint, is continually pivoting over numerous planes and angles, it is subjected to substantial stress and wear.

What are the various ball joint types?

The ball joint is divided into two categories. What is the significance of knowing this?

Because when it comes to service, they demand slightly different techniques.

MacPherson strut suspension systems are standard on most vehicles.

A single ball joint is positioned between the lower end of the strut and the control arm on each side.

The upper (upper ball joint) and lower (lower ball joint) joints of a double-wishbone suspension system are placed at the top (upper ball joint) and bottom (lower ball joint) of the suspension system, respectively.

Because of its location, the lower ball joint is subjected to higher stresses as well as increased dirt and salt exposure, resulting in quicker wear. When you next book your car in for a full service at a garage in Reading, request the car mechanic to complete a full health check of your car to ensure all components are in good working condition.

How can you tell if a ball joint is failing?

Despite the fact that ball joints are supposed to be extremely robust, they will eventually wear out and need to be replaced.

While ball joint replacement is not part of the usual maintenance plan, they should be examined for any symptoms of deterioration and/or excessive free play on a frequent basis and according to the manufacturer's intervals.

The ball joint should be replaced if one of these conditions exists. Look for a car service near me garage online and schedule an appointment with a trained technician.

The following are common symptoms of a worn ball joint:

  • Clunky, knocking noises, particularly when going over bumps.
  • Creaky or squeaky noises when the suspension moves.
  • Drifting to the side.
  • Shaky or loose-feeling steering.
  • Uneven or premature tyre wear or feathering.

When driving over bumps or turning, the vehicle's front suspension makes clunking noises.

The joints become loose in the socket as they wear out and rattle as the suspension swings up and down.

Excessive vibration might also be felt on either side of the car or via the steering wheel.

The steering wheel of the car moves from left to right on its own. These symptoms will get worse as the ball joint deteriorates until the component collapses.

Waiting until the joint fails is risky because the wheel might collapse, resulting in a loss of control.

If any of these symptoms are present, it is advised that the ball joint be checked and replaced if necessary.

Why should the complete ball joint be replaced rather than just the boot?

The rubber boot of a ball joint can split or shatter, which is a typical cause of failure.

Water, salt, and filth permeate the joint's interior components, causing damage to the boot.

Because a new boot would likely seal in the harmful elements, resulting in increased wear and corrosion, it's best to replace the complete ball joint in this case.

The ball joint is also designed to use a grease lubricant that is sealed and meant to last the life of the joint.

A faulty boot might result in the loss or contamination of this vital lubricant.

The friction within the joint increases dramatically without lubrication, causing the steering to become heavy or stick.

It's worth mentioning that certain older vehicles' ball joints are serviceable and require lubricating on a regular basis.

Replace a ball joint: a step-by-step guide

When it comes to ball joint replacement, it's recommended to follow the procedures below to ensure a flawless steering and suspension repair:

  • Examine the ball joints after elevating and fastening the vehicle to see if they need to be changed; there should be no excessive play, wear, or damage.
  • The type of suspension installed on the car will determine the examination technique.
  • In general, a prybar or specialty tool can be used to inspect the ball joint, but if in doubt, consult the vehicle manufacturer's instructions for further information.
  • To get to the ball joint, remove the wheel and set the brakes aside. Depending on the steering assembly, the caliper may need to be removed, which will lengthen the process.
  • To allow yourself more freedom to relocate suspension parts, loosen the mounts holding the control arm or anti-roll bar in place.
  • To loosen the bolts, immerse them with penetrating oil before removing the old joint.
  • The mounting bolts must be removed. Then remove the "pinch bolt" that holds the ball joint pin in place and pull the joint out of place using a pry bar.
  • Remove the joint by loosening and removing the bolts that secure it to the suspension arm.
  • Ball joints can be pushed in, clipped, or fastened to the control arm in a variety of methods.
  • In rare cases, the ball joint is built right into the steering arm, necessitating a complete arm replacement.
  • The removal and replacement of pressed-in ball joints will necessitate the use of a hydraulic press.
  • Check for damage or metal fatigue in the wishbone mounting holes. This hole can be damaged by a worn ball joint, which can then harm the replacement joint.
  • Install the replacement ball joint on the suspension arm, being sure to use all new fasteners and tighten them to the manufacturer's requirements.
  • Always exercise caution while using air or power tools, as they might harm components.
  • The ball joint pin should be inserted into the steering knuckle. Tighten it to the right torque with a new bolt and locking nut.
  • Reinstall the wheel and tighten the wheel nuts to the proper torque. Always torque components while they are loaded, not while they are unloaded.
  • When the vehicle is lowered to the ground, this will avoid the components from being put under further stress.

Finally, place the car on its suspension and examine the wheel alignment, including camber, and make any necessary adjustments.