Ball joints are very important part of the suspension and steering system of any car. These joints attach the wheel hub to the rest of the suspension system. This connection should be able to move vertically for shock absorption and horizontally for steering. Therefore, ball joints are used to facilitate movement in all direction.
Ball joints usually last for years, but they also undergo wear and tear. There is a polished metal ball inside the joint, which slides inside a polished metal cage to allow functioning of the steering. The space between the cage and ball is filled with grease to offer proper lubrication to the joint thereby reducing wear.
A rubber boot is provided to protect the joint from dust and dirt and to keep grease inside it. However, if by any chance the grease leaks out of the joint or if dust and dirt enter the joint, it will get damaged and worn out.
Some of the warning signs of ball joint damage are explained below. Look for these signs into your car to find if the ball joints of the vehicle are worn out.
An intermittent faint banging noise from a front corner of the vehicle will be the first indication that the ball joint of the car is worn out. The sound will be much pronounced when you drive over a bump or a dip. You may also hear sounds while steering the vehicle around a corner.
Do not confuse the sound of the ball joint to the clicking sound that is made by worn CV joints inside the axle of the car, while maneuvering corners. The sound from the ball joint will be like the one when somebody hits a piece of metal with a hammer.
Worn ball joints can adversely affect the car’s steering. The problems with ball joints can manifest in many ways and the most common one is sloppy steering. Note that the play of the steering depends much on the condition of the ball joint, and it can be either very free or much stiff if the ball joint is worn out.
Another indication can be vibration in steering joint when the car is driven on a level and straight highway. In the worst cases, there can also be big knocking sounds from the front corners of the car.
These are some of the classic signs of ball joint wear in cars. If you experience any of the above signs in your car, take your car to the nearest auto repair shop and get them to inspect and fix the issue immediately.