Ball Joints are a marvel of engineering and a critical component of your vehicle’s suspension. For all the bumps and rough roads ball Joints are forced to endure, it’s surprising they don’t fail more often. However, when they finally do pack it in, it’s usually only after years of driving over bumpy, and uneven terrain. If you have ever watched motor racing and seen a vehicle off the track with its wheel folded up underneath the body, then you have seen the result of a severely damaged ball joint. It’s never pretty, and sometimes fatal when ball Joints fail.
Machter Auto Parts are always willing to help and keep you safe on the road. Read on to find out more about ball Joints, how they work, how to know if they are faulty, and where you can find all your car parts online to get the best prices on ball joint replacements.
What Does a Ball Joint Do?
A ball joint is a spherical bearing on the end of a control arm. A lubricated metal housing protects the ball joint from dirt and debris, and a rubber-like boot provides further protection without inhibiting movement and the expansion of lubricant. The control arm extends from the ball and connects to the steering knuckles or spindle. Many vehicles have an upper and a lower ball joint on both sides. The bigger of the two ball Joints is found on the bottom and often wears out faster due to bearing the front weight of the vehicle.
What are the Symptoms of a bad Ball Joint?
When a vehicle is being steered, the ball Joints allow the spindles to pivot. A vehicle’s front wheels and suspension are also able to move up and down and back and forth.Ball Joints do all this while also supporting the weight of the vehicle. If a ball joint breaks, the wheel is free to move in any direction and do damage to tires, suspension parts, and fenders. However, before failure, your vehicle will exhibit several warning signs of a growing problem. The following symptoms may indicate that a visit to Machter Auto Parts for new ball joints is in order.
• Clunking noises from the front – A worn ball joint can loosen and rattle around inside its enclosure when the wheel moves up and down over bumps, rough roads, and railway lines. The more worn the ball joints become, the louder the noise will get.
• Vibration from the front – Ball Joints with developing problems will cause vibrations. You will feel the vibration coming from the direction of the affected ball joint, but it may also be felt in the steering wheel.
• Front tires wearing unevenly – The uneven wearing of tires may be difficult to spot when there are no other symptoms. If you do notice your tires wearing more on one side than the other, a faulty ball joint could be the cause. Damaged will cause a tire to wear on either the inner or outer side of the tire, never both. If your tires show wear on both sides at the same time, it means you are driving while they are underinflated.
• Wandering steering – Ball Joints are critical to the smooth steering of the vehicle. They also help keep the wheels in proper alignment while the vehicle is traveling straight. If you notice that the car wants to wander while traveling in a straight line or that the steering does not provide the direct response you expect, it may be due to worn ball joints.
Because ball joints are so critical to the operation of the suspension, they can dramatically affect handling when they are worn. If you notice any of the above symptoms, then you should have your suspension and ball joints checked by a qualified professional. Also, when you have any suspension auto parts replaced, a wheel alignment is recommended to ensure even distribution of wear on the tires.
The Lifespan of a Car/Suspension Ball Joint
Ball Joints can last a long time, and vehicle owners will rarely encounter any problems. However, after bearing the weight of a vehicle for many years, they can wear out and will need replacement. Your mileage will vary, but vehicles which drive over rough, uneven roads day in day out will wear their ball joints out sooner than city-bound cars. ball joints will sometimes be replaced on both sides at the same time because they experience similar amounts of wear.
Premium materials will create longer lasting ball joints, while ones made from low-grade steel and inferior heat treatment will need replacement more frequently. These materials and techniques may reduce the price, but the ball joint lifespan can be also reduced by up to 50%.
Ball Joint Maintenance
Because so much is riding on the ball joint, they are built tough and are one of the few auto parts which don’t require routine maintenance. However, your manufacturer will list a recommended maintenance schedule based on mileage. Generally, your service centre will inspect the ball joints during your usual filter and oil change service.
Some ball joints have been designed to allow servicing with grease and lubricant. The trend for newer vehicles, however, is to seal the ball with lubrication that will last for the life of the ball joint.
How much does it cost to replace a Ball Joint?
Replacement costs for ball joints can vary dramatically between makes, models, and the year of your vehicle. Prices for replacements can start from $100 for just one and can go up to almost $800. Some cars will only have two lower ball joints, while others will have both upper and lower.In some cases, you won’t have to replace all ball joints at the same time, which can reduce your replacement costs quite a bit, but make sure your quote also includes a wheel alignment after replacement. For an accurate price on your vehicle’s ball joints, check MachterAutoparts when buying car parts online.
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