Many parts are used in the suspension system of vehicles, which helps the vehicle maintain balance, and the steering system works. The suspension system protects the vehicle from potholes and breaker shocks.
Thus, the ball joint is one of the most important parts of the suspension system. On which the entire balance of the vehicle depends. But sometimes the ball joint, along with other suspension parts, can wear out. This has a bad effect on the suspension of the vehicle.
In this article, we will learn in detail about the main symptoms of a bad ball joint so that you do not get confused about the noise coming from the vehicle’s suspension system.
What Are Ball Joints?
In vehicles, the ball joints is a spherical housing and stud that connects the lower control arm to the steering knuckle and helps rotate the wheel hub in accordance with the steering system.
The ball joint is placed inside a steel cover, and the center of this cover is filled with lubricating grease. So that there is no friction in the ball joint. The ball joint housing is also covered with a rubber boot to prevent dust and debris from entering it.
Steering the tie rod through the ball joint helps the wheel hub rotate easily in the left or right direction without any friction. The ball joint connects the wheels and tires to the rest of the suspension system through the control arm.
If you turn the steering wheel without the ball joint fitted, the tires will not turn in any direction. Ball joints allow a vehicle’s tires to move up, down, left, and right, and they also serve as part of the suspension system to keep the vehicle smooth and stable.
Depending on the model of your vehicle, there may be both an upper and lower ball joint. When ball joints are manufactured, they are sealed. Therefore, ball joints cannot be serviced or repaired.
Symptoms Of Bad Ball Joints
Symptoms of bad ball joints may include rumbling or rattling noises, screeching sounds, vibration problems, pulling to the side while driving, loose or unstable steering, or uneven tire wear.
The symptoms and signs of worn or worn ball joints should never be ignored. A bad or worn ball joint can cause a major accident.
1. Clunking or Rattling Noises
Whenever you drive your vehicle on a rough or broken road with a worn or damaged ball joint, the ball joint starts rattling from inside the housing.
The suspension goes up or down whenever the vehicle is on a rough road. Then you feel the sound of some metal rattling. These symptoms can be caused by a bad ball joint. However, a metallic rattling sound down front in the vehicle could also be a sign of damage to another part of the suspension.
2. Screeching Sound
As you may know, a ball joint is a sealed component and the ball joint has a rubber boot in which the lubricant grease is filled, which lubricates the ball joint.
But when the rubber boot of the ball joint is worn out over a long period of time, the lubricating grease begins to seep out and after some time, the ball joint becomes dry. The lubrication of the ball joint completely ends. This causes the ball joint to make a squeaking or creaking sound when the steering is turned. These noises are made by ball joints due to loss of lubrication.
However, a squeaking or screeching sound when turning the steering can also be caused by worn rubber or bearing mounts on the vehicle’s shock absorbers.
Therefore, you must check the steering assembly, ball joints, and shock absorbers of your vehicle to investigate the cause of such steering noises while turning.
3. Vibration Issue
Whenever you drive your vehicle with a bad or worn ball joint, then you will feel a vibration of your vehicle in the steering wheel and in the whole vehicle and this vibration starts increasing when the speed of the vehicle is high and remains constant. because the turning wheels of the vehicle are completely independent.
These wheels are controlled by connecting them to the steering only through ball joints. But when the ball joint becomes loose due to wear and tear, then the loose ball joint starts to vibrate.
However, vibration in the steering wheel can also be caused by wear and tear on other parts of the suspension or by a bloated tire. If there is vibration in the vehicle, its cause should be investigated.
4. Side Pulling While Driving
Whenever you drive your vehicle on the road with a worn or worn ball joint. Then even keeping the steering wheel of the vehicle straight, your vehicle starts pulling right or left depending on the slope of the road. This happens because the ball joints in your vehicle have become loose due to wear and tear.
And a loose ball joint can result in loss of steering control of your vehicle. However, a vehicle pulling to the right or left can also be caused by loose ball joints, suspension failure, or one tire having more or less air pressure than the other.
5. Loose or Shaky Steering
A bad or loose ball joint can cause you to feel the steering wheel is loose or unstable. because a worn or loose ball joint can result in unstable steering control. You will need more movement in the steering wheel to keep the vehicle stable at high speeds due to a bad or loose ball joint.
A worn or loose ball joint is a serious problem. Because the control and balance of the entire vehicle at high speed and while turning depends only on the ball joint,
And a loose or worn ball joint can sometimes jerk out of the bushing casing during high vehicle speeds, due to which serious accident can also happen. That’s why you should always inspect all the parts of your vehicle’s suspension from time to time.
6. Front Tires Uneven Wear
One of the main symptoms of a bad or loose ball joint is uneven tire wear. The tire gauge gives you a clear view of the uneven wear of the tires. This happens because a bad or loose ball joint causes the vehicle’s tires to pull to the right or left during motion.
Due to this, there is more friction between one side of the tires and the road surface, which causes the tires wear unevenly. Tires can be completely destroyed if a vehicle with a loose or worn ball joint is driven for an extended period of time.
However, uneven tire wear can also be caused by wear and tear on other parts of the suspension. So always check your vehicle’s complete suspension, shock absorbers, steering assembly and wheel bearings.
What Happens When A Ball Joint Goes Bad?
If you drive at high speeds for long periods of time with worn or worn ball joints, then you may experience a variety of problems during the drive, such as loose steering, uneven tire wear, vibration problems, a clunking sound in the suspension.
And many ball joints can break or come out with a jerk when the vehicle is at high speed. due to which you lose control of the vehicle completely. Due to this, there may be a major breakdown in the vehicle or a major accident.
Ball Joints Location
The ball joint is part of the suspension and steering assembly that connects the vehicle’s wheels to the steering. Ball joint steering has legs at the ends of each tie rod, into which one end of the wheel hub is inserted.
Ball Joints Replacement Cost
On average, a unit of ball joints can cost between $40 and $150, and a mechanic’s labor cost to replace ball joints can range from $60 to $200. This estimated cost does not include taxes and fees.
The cost of replacing a ball joint in any vehicle depends on the vehicle model and the quality of the ball joint. Even poor-quality ball joints can be found at very low prices.
But such poor-quality ball joints are risky for your vehicle. If you’re experienced at replacing ball joints yourself, you can save a mechanic’s labor costs.
Q. What does a bad ball joint sound like?
When the suspension goes up or down according to the road surface or takes a blow in a pit. Then a worn ball joint can cause rattling, screeching and clunking noises.
Q. Is It OK To Drive With A Bad Ball Joint?
No, driving with a worn ball joint can be dangerous. Because ball joints are a vital part of your vehicle’s suspension and steering assembly, If you are driving long distances with a bad ball joint, then, during high speed, the worn ball joint may break due to shock or the bushing may come out of the casing, because of which you can be a victim of a major accident.
Q. How do I know if my ball joints or wheel bearings are bad?
When this happens, different types of sounds start coming from the suspension of the vehicle. Also, the steering wheel starts to feel loose and shaky and when the speed of the vehicle is high, the vehicle starts pulling to one side. The two front tires of the vehicle wear unevenly. Based on all these symptoms, you can find out if you have bad ball joints or wheel bearings.
Q. How much does it cost to repair a ball joint?
The average cost to repair a ball joint can range from $150 to $290. which will be inclusive of the labor cost of a professional vehicle mechanic.
Q. How long will bad ball joints last?
The life of ball joints generally depends on the vehicle load, driving style and environment. The life of a ball joint on a typical vehicle can range from 50,000 miles to 70,000 miles, depending on the vehicle.
Q. Is it easy to replace a ball joint?
Only if you have experience replacing ball joints do you have the proper tools to replace ball joints. Then you can easily change it. If you do this work without experience and without proper equipment, then this task can be difficult for you.
Banty is the owner of Autorepairszone.com & is also a vehicle mechanic by profession. We have almost 12 years of experience in the field of automotive repair, and we strive to provide you with accurate information about vehicle malfunctions and repairs based on our experience.