Signs Your Vehicle Needs The Ball Joints Replaced

The suspension on your car is designed to keep your ride smooth and comfortable in the cabin, even over bumps and cracks in the road as you drive along. To do this, joints like ball joints in the suspension allow the wheels to articulate without transferring that motion to the cabin. However, over time, these joints can wear out. They can lose lubrication, come loose or seize up entirely. This will have a negative effect on the quality of your ride! Below, we've identified four important signs to watch for that indicate problems with the suspension on your vehicle, such as loose or worn-out ball joints.

This ball joint is protected by a rubber boot from dust, dirt and debris 

4. Uneven Wear On Front Tires

A loose ball joint in the front suspension will introduce some "play" that allows one of the front wheels to come out of alignment with the other. Over time, this can lead to uneven tire wear with one tire wearing out much more rapidly than the other. You may see excessive tire wear on the inside or outside edge of one tire, or in uneven patches across the tire's surface. If both front tires are wearing out rapidly, you might have a different problem like incorrect tire pressure. However, if just one front tire is wearing out rapidly, along with the other problems listed below, it may be time for new ball joints on your ride.

This person uses a penny to test the depth of the tread remaining on this tire 

3. Harsh Cabin Vibrations

Worn ball joints may be loose and allow the suspension to rattle around a bit as you drive. With enough speed, this can cause a vibrating or rumbling sensation in the cabin. Similar vibrations can be caused by other suspension parts and even unbalanced wheels, axles and driveshafts. However, a ball joint is much more likely to wear out during normal driving than a driveshaft or major suspension linkage. Ball joints are relatively inexpensive and easy to replace.

2. Loose, Wandering Steering Feel

Because a worn ball joint creates a loose point in the vehicle's suspension system, the whole feel of the vehicle could be affected. If you find the vehicle wanders about in your lane as you drive, is difficult to track straight or simply feels disconnected from steering inputs, one possible cause is worn out ball joints. Similar symptoms can also be caused by bad tie-rod ends, poor front-end alignment and more, but checking the ball joints are certainly a good place to begin diagnosing this problem.

The ball joints are installed in control arms as part of your vehicle's suspension 

1. Clunking, Rattling Noise

Any time you hear an irregular clunking, rattling or clicking noise coming from under the vehicle, you can bet on a loose component somewhere in the suspension. Ball joints are a common culprit. If the rattling is more pronounced as you go over bumps and dips in the road, then it's almost certainly coming from a suspension problem. Over time, the sound may get louder as the ball joint wears further and becomes even looser as you drive.

Because failing ball joints exhibit many of the same symptoms as other common problems, It's hard to be certain what's gone wrong on your car until you get a professional diagnosis from a trained technician. Trust the team at Capitol Toyota to work on your car, and we'll deliver a customer service experience that's second to none in Salem.