What Happens When Ball Joints Go Out? Bad Ball Joint Symptoms

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Last Updated on April 25, 2021 by John Patterson

Owning a car or any vehicle possibly means a lot to you.

But it also means you should have some knowledge about the functions of the different parts and components of your car so that if your car occurs any problem and before going to the garage for servicing or any kind of repairing at least you have some prior idea of what kind of work you need to do.

One such vital part is the ball joints that are an essential one to keep the tires flat against the road as the suspension goes up and down while the wheels are on the run. Let’s see in detail.

What Happens When Ball Joints Go Out?

What Happens When Ball Joints Go Out? Bad Ball Joint Symptoms

Before starting the discussion, let’s know some key points about Ball Joints.

What are Ball Joints?

What are Ball Joints

Ball joints are kind of spherical bearings that link the control arms to the steering knuckles of your car. The entire ball joint set up including a bearing stud and a socket placed inside a casing is made of steel.

The threaded and tapered bearing stud fits into the tapered hole in the steering knuckle to prevent dirt from entering into the joint.

So here’s our recommended list of Best Ball Joints: 

MOOG K7392 Ball Joint
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  • ABSORBS IMPACT -- Belleville preload washer helps...
  • EASY TO INSTALL -- Precision tolerances for easy...

What Ball Joints Do?

Ball joints are a kind of component that find at the front suspension of your car. The front suspension is a collaboration of joints, links, bearings, and bushings. All of them work together to allow the front wheels to move back and forth as well as right and left together along with steering the wheels while you’re driving your car.

That’s what the ball joints do. They connect all the links and allow them to work together. Apart from that, ball joints provide the pivoting movement between the steering knuckles and the control arms.

In this way, you may have complete control of your car, and this may help you to get a safe and smooth ride towards your desired destination.

Bad Ball Joint Symptoms

ball joint failure symptoms

The functions speak the worth of any components. If these ball joints break the front wheel of your car will lose its control, and it will be freed to move in any direction, which is enough reason for damaging the other suspension components as well as the fender and tire of your car.

When the front ball joints start to turn bad, your car will show a few symptoms that make you aware of the problems that your car has occurred.

What are the symptoms of a bad ball joint? Let’s have a look at the ball joint failure symptoms

Awkward Noise from Front Suspension

If the ball joints have worn out and loosen in the socket, they start knocking and rattling when the suspension moves up and down while running on the road. The thing becomes worse while you’re driving your car on the rough, bumpy, and turning tracks.

The awkward clucking noise becomes louder as the ball joints start wearing out and finally, after some days they get entirely damaged.

Excessive Vibration from Front Suspension

This is another problem that your car may face if the ball joints of the front suspension start wearing out. They become loose in the sockets and vibrate abnormally when your car is in motion.

The vibration comes from either the affected ball joints or from the right or left sides of the wheel. In some cases, you may feel the vibration that comes through the steering wheel.

Uneven Wear in Front Tires

If you notice that the inner and outer edges of the front tires of your car are wearing down fast than the rare tires, the worn ball joints are the reason behind it.

This symptom is not natural to catch, to know this you need a close watch on the inner threads of the front tires to find if the wear appears on either the inner or outer thread. Only this will assure you about this problem.

Unusual Movement of the Steering Wheel

This is one of the most common problems that your car may occur if the ball joints of the front suspension are wearing out. The wheel steering drifts from left to right of its own without following your direction.

Ball joints are essential components of your car suspension, which control the direction of your car unless you may face any fatal accident on the way. Wearing ball joints may cause this problem, and that should be replaced as early as you can to keep your car in a better state.

What happens if you drive with a messed-up ball joint?

What happens if you drive with a messed-up ball joint

It is not a good idea to drive your car with the wrong ball joint. If that so, then after driving a few miles, the ball joints come apart, and as a result, the worst thing can happen, and that is breakage.

It can happen in two ways- the ball comes out of the socket, and another thing is stud breakage. If the complete breakage of ball joints occurs, then the wheel of your car is free to move in any direction.

Even, the wheels may turn outwards, slam against the fender, and drag the tires until you apply the brakes. All this could put you in trouble; even an accident could happen also.

How to Check if a Ball Joint is Bad?

How to Check if a Ball Joint is Bad

Let’s watch the below video:

How Often Do Ball Joints Need to be Replaced?

How Often Do Ball Joints Need to be Replaced

Replacing ball joints is not a part of the routine maintenance of your car. It depends on the situation that you may face, which may turn the ball joint into bad shape or become loose.

Therefore, you need to check them at regular intervals, especially when you’re doing the necessary oil and filter service. Some ball joints needed to be greased and lubricated periodically.

Ball Joint Replacement Cost

The replacement cost of the ball joint depends on the model of your car and the year of making it. Generally, you have to pay anything around $ 200-$ 1000, including an alignment.

Some vehicles have only two lower ball joints, and some have 4, both upper and lower. In most cases, you don’t have to replace all the ball joints at a time. Therefore, the cost of replacement also varies on the number of ball joints you need to be replaced.

The replacement cost may go higher if you have to replace the control arms along with the ball joint.

How to Check Ball Joints?

If you want to keep checking your ball joint, you need to follow some steps. They are-

  1. If you have a new car then you have to rise the car to inspect the joint thoroughly. As for the old cars you have to look for a wear indicator or a grease fitting. If it is stuck out of the bottom of the joint’s housing by ½ “then it is okay. But if it is receded furthermore, then you have to replace the ball joints with the new ones. Don’t forget to check this essential car accessories list.
  2. Place a jack under the lower control arm of the front wheel, close to ball joints as much as possible, and then raise your car until wheels leave the ground. Now, look into the joints.
  3. Now move the dial indicator to the side of the nut and then move the wheel in and out to check the radial wear.
  4. After that, grab the wheel at the top and the bottom to lift and pull down. If the movement is beyond the specifications mentioned by the manufacturer, then you have to replace the ball joints as early as possible.

How to Keep Ball Joints in Good Shape?

While essential lubricating parts in your car, you also keep in mind the ball joints and watch if the rubber boots that hold the ball joints in place are in good condition. If you find it cracked, or worn then you have no other way left but to replace the ball joints.

But if you need to grease then apply the recommended grease for this purpose. Besides you have to pay attention to the road, you’re driving in.

Try to avoid the potholes, or drive slow to cross the street bumps. These two certainly help you maintain the condition of ball joints as well as the car for a more extended period.

Final Words

Okay, now it’s time to wrap up the what happens when ball joints go out discussion where hopefully you have learned a lot of things about the ball joints of your vehicle. Now you can check all by yourself to know if there is any problem with these components.

If yes, then you have to look if you can manage it by applying lubricant. Otherwise, you have to replace them with a new one to maintain the health status of your car.

Remember, if you ignore the fault then your car will behave strangely while driving and it may put you into a serious and in some cases a severe problem.

So, my suggestion for you to keep a vigil on the ball joints at regular intervals and this will make your ride a happy journey for sure.

About the author

John Patterson

Hi there! My name is John Patterson. I’m a meticulous guy who loves to deal with the perfect tools for various needs. No matter if it’s a woodworking tool or gardening tool or anything else, I don’t compromise the quality and usability. Since 2010 I’ve been testing different tools for different DIY and professional tasks. Later in 2015, I decided to share my knowledge with the world. I started by answering people in the forums and several Q/A sites like Quora. Then I founded this blog to aid others like you with my knowledge and experience.