Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Ball Joint (Rear)

Ball joints are the suspension component that connect the vehicle control arms to the wheel hub. They are a spherical bearing with a stud encased in a metal sleeve or socket, and serve as the main pivot point between the vehicle’s suspension and the wheels. Because they essentially bear the entire weight of the vehicle, they are subject to high stress conditions and will eventually wear out. When they wear out, rear ball joints in particular will produce a set of symptoms that can notify the driver of a potential problem that should be serviced.

1. Clunking noise coming from rear suspension of the vehicle

One of the most common symptoms associated with excessively worn rear ball joints is a clunking noise coming from the affected ball joint. When a ball joint begins to wear out, it will become loose in its socket and clunk or rattle when force is placed upon it. The clunk will continue to get louder as the ball joint wears until it eventually fails.

2. Wandering steering

Another symptom of a bad or failing rear ball joints is wandering steering. Loose ball joints can cause the vehicle’s steering to randomly drift towards the left or right. This will become most apparent at higher speeds, such as when driving on the highway. Vibrations that coincide with the wandering steering may also be felt, depending on how worn the ball joint is.

3. Irregular tire wear

Another common symptom associated with worn rear ball joints is irregular tire wear of the rear wheels. The excessive suspension play caused by excessively worn rear ball joints will cause the outer edges of the tires to wear unevenly and at an accelerated rate. The excessive play may also place additional stress on other suspension components, which may cause them to wear at an accelerated rate as well.

Rear ball joints are essentially the main rear pivot point between the wheel and the suspension, and are very important to the vehicle’s overall ride and handling characteristics. When they fail, they can cause problems and place additional stress on other suspension joints and components. For this reason, if you suspect that your ball joints are worn or may need to be replaced, have the vehicle’s suspension inspected by a professional technician, such as one from YourMechanic. They will be able to determine if the car needs its rear ball joints replaced, or if another issue needs to be addressed.


Next Step

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Clifton

30 years of experience
289 reviews
Clifton
30 years of experience
Ford Mustang V8-5.0L - Suspension - West Palm Beach, Florida
Clifton did a good job finding the source of this loud clicking /popping sound I had in my front end suspension. I could've ended up buying unnecessary parts thinking it was something else .

Dameron

17 years of experience
171 reviews
Dameron
17 years of experience
Mercedes-Benz GL450 V8-4.6L - Suspension Inspection - Indianapolis, Indiana
He's so professional

Mauricio

40 years of experience
85 reviews
Mauricio
40 years of experience
Dodge Ram 1500 Van V8-5.9L - Water Pump - Burbank, California
Very friendly and professional. Dealt with the issues as they came up and performed the required tasks to complete the job to satisfaction.

Jerel

11 years of experience
125 reviews
Jerel
11 years of experience
Lincoln Zephyr V6-3.0L - Oil Change - Durham, North Carolina
On time and completed the work in a timely manner. Very knowledgeable about the vehicle and things that could be done to improve its performance.

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