Even though many people then to postpone the replacement of your car’s ball joint, you definitely shouldn’t! A faulty ball joint can pose serious issues to your car and definitely affects your safety.
Before going into the details of when to replace the ball joint of your car, let’s take a look at how it works.
What does your car’s ball joint do?
On average, your car weighs about 1,500 kg. Occasionally, it travels around 100 km/h and turns against inertia which significantly increases the forces that affect the car.
However, it drives on only four wheels.
The wheels are what connects it to the road, used to turn and handle bumps on roads. Which means that it’s impossible for them to be bolted to the car. So that’s where the ball joints come in, connecting the wheels to your car’s suspension.
We can’t emphasize how important it is to keep the ball joints working properly. They’re connecting your wheels to your suspension! So if there’s anything wrong with them, we don’t want to imagine how bad things can turn out.
Just imagine turning a 1,500kg metal machine at 100km/h with faulty ball joints… It could be disastrous!
What does the ball joint look like?
The ball joint is pretty much a steel ball with a stud. Most cars have lower and upper ball joints at the front. However, there are some cars with only lower ball joints.
There’s a possibility that the upper and lower ball joints are not the same, so be careful when you’re getting a new set.
Why is there a difference?
That’s because the lower ball joint is needed to withhold the weight of the car while helping to pivot the wheels. Also, the lower ball joint tends to wear out quicker.
Symptoms of a faulty ball joint
When a ball joint starts to fail, it becomes loose or lacks lubrication. Here are a few symptoms of a faulty ball joint.
If there’s excessive vibration from the front of your vehicle or from its suspension, it’s likely due to problematic ball joints. The vibrations can be felt when driving and is due to the ball joints being loose in the sockets.
Uneven Wear on Front Tyres
A good indicator that your ball joints might be faulty is when the inner or outer edges of your front tyres are more worn off than the rest of the tyre. But do note that the wear must appear on either the inner or outer edges and not both. If wear appears on both edges, it could be caused by a lot of other reasons.
Wandering Steering Wheel
If your vehicle drifts from left to right on its own, that means your steering wheel is wandering. Worn or faulty ball joints will cause your steering wheel to wander due to the loose sockets.
The most common symptom of a faulty ball joint is clunking noises. The noise will come from the front suspension and is also due to the ball joints becoming loose from the sockets. It will then rattle and knock when the vehicle is in motion, causing the clunking noises.
As time goes by, the clunking will get louder and louder, an indicator that the ball joints are wearing out. If you continue to ignore the noise, the ball joints will eventually completely fail and break, posing a threat to your safety.
Ball Joint Replacement
There’s no set time to replace your vehicle’s ball joints, they’re usually replaced when they start to show the symptoms we’ve discussed. But of course, you should get your mechanic to check the ball joints to ensure that they’re working properly.
While some older cars have ball joints that can be greased – which means you can service them to last longer – most ball joints are sealed and can only be replaced.
How expensive is it to replace?
The cost of ball joint replacement varies. It depends on the type of joint, type of car, the number of joints that need replacing (there is no need to replace all joints, but just the one that’s faulty) and if you have to replace the control arms – since some cars have ball joints as part of the control arms assemblies – which will increase the price significantly.
When you replace your ball joint, you should also make sure you get the workshop to do a wheel alignment. This will make your tyres wear evenly and this is something you should do whenever you change any suspension part on your car.
If you suspect that your vehicle’s ball joints are not working properly, you should have them checked by a professional immediately.
Looking for a credible workshop? Check out our Carro Workshop today! It’s the only workshop that offers full transparency with a breakdown of all services rendered. So you can rest easy, knowing that you’re not overpaying.