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Ball joints are a part of your vehicle's suspension system that connect the steering knuckles to the control arms. A ball joint is essentially a flexible ball and socket that allows the suspension to move and, at the same time, the wheels to steer. Cars and trucks will have multiple ball joint assemblies depending on their type of suspension system.
Like any other suspension component, ball joints will eventually wear out and become loose. Excessive play in the joint can affect wheel alignment and tire wear. Loose joints can also cause suspension noise (typically a "clunking" sound when going over a bump). If a ball joint fails, the suspension can collapse, causing a loss of control of the vehicle.
Depending on the suspension design, ball joints can be found either in the front or the rear. The vehicle may need to be taken to a shop for wheel alignment after this service. Mobile mechanics do not have the machinery to align wheels.
When applicable, make sure the ball joints are lubricated during a major service.
The ball joint connects the control arm to the steering knuckle. As the wheels – and therefore the steering knuckles – move, the ball joints help the suspension – and therefore the control arm – stay steady. And as the suspension moves, the ball joints help the wheels steer. When the ball joints fail, the suspension and wheels have a hard time working independent of each other. This puts unnecessary strain on each component, which can alter wheel alignment and severely damage the suspension.