What are ball joints in your car’s suspension? Ball joints are crucial pivot points that connect your car’s wheels to its suspension. They help support the weight of the car and allow the wheels to move up and down as you drive over bumps and turn the steering wheel.
Just from the above definition you can already tell that they play an important role in our experience driving and even safety.
Here are the most common symptoms of bad or failing ball joints:
1. Clunking Noises from the Front Suspension
One of the most common symptoms of a problem with suspension ball joints is a clunking noise coming from the front end of your vehicle. This will be more pronounced when you’re driving over bumps or making turns.
2. Vibration from the Front of the Vehicle
A worn-out ball joint can cause the car to vibrate. This vibration will usually originate from the front end and can sometimes be felt in the steering wheel.
3. Wandering Steering
If driving straight becomes a challenge and your car tends to wander or drift to the side while on the road, it could be a sign of worn-out ball joints.
4. Uneven Tire Wear
A failing ball joint can change the alignment of the wheels which can lead to uneven wear on the tires, especially on the inner or outer edges.
5. Reduced Steering Responsiveness
You might feel that the car’s steering is less responsive than it should be or there’s a loose or wandering feel when steering.
6. Check for visible damage
During routine maintenance or if you’re under the car for any reason, you might be able to spot a damaged ball joint boot or see grease leaking from it. This indicates that the protective casing around the joint is compromised, and dirt or debris may have gotten inside.
Visible damage looks similar to this but is not limited to this:
If you suspect that you have a bad ball joint, it’s important to get it checked and replaced if necessary.
Be careful! A severely worn ball joint can break, leading to the suspension collapsing and the wheel folding inward. This can be extremely dangerous, especially if you’re driving at the time.
As with many car issues, early detection and fixing the problem can save you from bigger repair bills and potential safety hazards down the road. If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, consider consulting with a professional mechanic for an inspection.