Looking after a car

How to Check Ball Joints for Wear

By Sara . Updated: January 20, 2017
How to Check Ball Joints for Wear

Ball joint is simply a ball and socket joint consisting of the ball, housing, cover cap and in some a washer or spring is included. Even though being quite simple, they have an important function in the car: allowing the suspension to move up and down. Ball joints also allow the wheels to turn left and right, which is quite important in the vehicle. However, over time these ball joints may wear out due to constant use. When this happens, you'll start hearing some noises, especially when the car goes over bumps. A proper maintenance of the ball joints is necessary for a smooth running vehicle. In this OneHowTo article we're going to explain how to check ball joints for wear, so you can see the condition of your joints and take a decision on whether you need to change them or not.

You may also be interested in: How to Check Car Bearings
  1. First signs that ball joints might be worn out
  2. Listen to the suspension sound
  3. Test the suspension and steering
  4. Look at the tires

First signs that ball joints might be worn out

To check ball joints for wear, you can try to locate the ball joint and inspect it.

In automobiles such as car you need to first locate the ball joint. It is situated under the car, below the steering knuckle. Commonly there are two ball joints, one upper and another lower which are located at the suspensions. The lower ball joint is the one which is more prone to wear and tear as it takes most of the abuse.

At first check if there is excess lubricant leaking out of the ball joint. If so you need to replace the rubber cover. Then, check the rubber boots on the joints. If the rubber boots are gone or are torn and not in one piece, then its best to replace the ball joint.

If you locate any uneven wear in the outer or inner edge of the front tire i.e. they are wearing faster than the rest of tire tread then it is most probably due to worn out ball joint.

Other signs that the ball joints in your car are worn out

Usually ball joints are hidden in the car and it is quite difficult to know if they are worn out by looking at them. However, some signs in our vehicle will let us know that there is some kind of problem with the ball joints. Below we're going to explain some of the most common ways of verifying that the ball joints in your car might be worn out.

Listen to the suspension sound

If you don’t want to go under your vehicle and inspect the ball joints then pay careful attention to the sound made by the suspension while driving. If your suspension is making any abnormal sound such as bumping noise, scraping noise or else a rattling noise then it means the suspension is having problem. The main cause of this problem is worn out ball joints. So, it’s best to replace the ball joints whenever any abnormal sound comes from the suspension.

Test the suspension and steering

If you can’t hear any abnormal sound in your suspension and can’t find any wear and tear by simple looking at the ball joints then you need to test the suspension and steering. For testing you need to go under the vehicle again. So, at first jack the front part of vehicle and secure it on stands. Then using your hand move the joint around. If it moves then it is definitely gone bad.

Also you can try moving the tire along the vertical axis. If it moves except side to side movement then the ball joints is worn out.

How to Check Ball Joints for Wear - Test the suspension and steering

Look at the tires

It is also possible to check the ball joints by looking at the tires of your car. If the tires are worn in an uneven way it could be an indicator that the ball joints are bad. To check this, take a look at your tires. If they are more worn in the outer or inner edges than the rest of the tire, there is a chance that the ball joint is bad. If both edges (inner and outer) are equaly worn, this is not a problem of the ball joint anymore. In this case this is an indicator of an underinflation of the tire.

If you want to read similar articles to How to Check Ball Joints for Wear, we recommend you visit our Car Maintenance and Repair category.

Write a comment
What did you think of this article?
1 of 2
How to Check Ball Joints for Wear