Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Ball Joint (Front)

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Ball joints are an important suspension component found on virtually all modern vehicles. They are a spherical bearing in a socket — functioning similarly to the ball and socket design of a human hip — and serve as one of the main suspension pivot points connecting the control arms of the vehicle to the steering knuckles. The front ball joints allow the front wheels and suspension to move back and forth as well as up and down when the steering wheel is turned and the vehicle is traveling over the road.

Should a ball joint break, the wheel becomes totally free to move in any direction, which can damage the car’s fender, tire, and several suspension components, if not more. Usually, when front ball joints start to fail, the vehicle will display a few symptoms that alert the driver a problem has occurred.

1. Clunking Noises From the Front Suspension

One of the most common symptoms of a problem with suspension ball joints is clunking noises coming from the vehicle’s front suspension. As ball joints wear out they become loose in the socket and rattle and knock as the suspension travels up and down over the road. Worn ball joints may knock or clunk when traveling on rough roads, speed bumps, or when turning. Usually, the clunking will get continuously louder as the ball joints wear out, or until they eventually completely fail and break.

2. Excessive Vibration From the Front of the Vehicle

Another symptom of problematic ball joints is excessive vibration coming from the vehicle’s suspension. Worn ball joints will be loose in their sockets and vibrate disproportionately as the vehicle is in motion. The vibration will usually stem from the affected ball joint, either from the right or left sides of the vehicle. In some cases, the vibration may be felt through the steering wheel as well.

2. Uneven Wear on Front Tires

Should you notice the inner or outer edges of your front tires wearing down quicker than the rest of the tread, worn ball joints are a likely cause. This symptom can be difficult to catch; if you become aware of any other signs of ball joint failure, check your tires carefully and pay close attention to the inner treads. Wear must appear on either the inner or outer tread, not both, to signify worn-out front ball joints. Under-inflation of tires will cause both edges to wear out faster.

4. Steering Wheel Wandering to the Left or Right

Another symptom of bad ball joints is wandering steering. Wandering steering is when the vehicle steering drifts from left to right on its own. When the ball joints are in good condition and the wheels are in proper alignment, the steering wheel should stay mostly straight and direct in response. Worn ball joints will cause the vehicle steering to wander to the left or right, which will require the driver to compensate for the issue.

Because ball joints are an important component of any vehicle’s suspension. When they begin to have problems or fail, the overall handling and ride characteristics of the vehicle are likely compromised. If you suspect that your vehicle’s ball joints have become severely worn or need to be replaced, have the vehicle’s suspension inspected by a professional technician to determine what the best course of action may be. If necessary, they will be able to replace any failing ball joints for you.


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Brikk

16 years of experience
369 reviews
Brikk
16 years of experience
Mercedes-Benz C250 - Brakes, Steering and Suspension System - Matthews, North Carolina
Brikk was early to the appointment and very courteous. Finished within 2 hours and answered any questions I had. I would highly recommend him. The entire process was very smooth, not to mention it was cheaper and more convenient than leaving my car at a mechanic shop.
Mercury Sable - Brakes, Steering and Suspension System - Charlotte, North Carolina
He told me what the problem may be after I told him what all had been done to the car. He was very nice and friendly I definitely would use him again

Chris

20 years of experience
1615 reviews
Chris
20 years of experience
Chevrolet Cobalt - Brakes, Steering and Suspension System - Anaheim, California
Chris is an excellent mechanic. I usually do not place reviews online for service items untill many months after, because it is only then that I know the work is done correctly. I've had many services done by Chris and I am happy to report even a year later I have had no issues with the repairs he has done. My car is ot the most expensive or quality car out there (2006 Chevrolet Cobalt LS), but it runs thanks to Chris's excellent work!! II'm thankful to be able to keep the car running even after an accident. Gives me time to save to buy a new one! Hire Chris he knows his craft!

Luis

7 years of experience
88 reviews
Luis
7 years of experience
Chevrolet Tracker - Brakes, Steering and Suspension System - Clifton, New Jersey
Luis was prompt, professional, knowledgeable and very nice! Would recommend requesting his services!

Chris

14 years of experience
233 reviews
Chris
14 years of experience
Kia Optima - Brakes, Steering and Suspension System - San Diego, California
Chris was friendly and professional. He worked with my instructions to drop the keys off after he was done. He finished the job in the time he quoted upon arrival.

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