Need a New Ball Joint? What Does That Mean for Your Car?
The ball joints in your car connect the wheels to your suspension. They're at the front of the majority of cars now built. If your car repairs require a new ball joint or two, don't worry. It's a common repair, and here is all you need to know about them to understand what the repair means for your car.
Possible for Wheels to Turn
Picture the ball joint as your shoulder or hip joint. The joint has a small ball connected to a long rod that allows the rod to pivot and turn. That rod is connected to the wheel, and makes it possible for the wheel to turn so you can actually steer your car!
When the ball joint is working as it should, the journey will be smooth. You'll barely even notice that you are turning. When the ball joint is breaking, it will be much harder to get around the corner. The suspension doesn't work as effectively as it could, making your ride bumpy.
Wheel and the Suspension
The ball of the joint fits into a threaded stud within the car's suspension. A strut is connected to the ball and then onto the wheel. A housing unit is then placed around the whole system to protect it. Springs and control arms will also be added to create the full ball joint/suspension/wheel system.
All ball joints will be greased to ensure they turn properly within the housing unit. When taking your vehicle for a service, the joints can be greased to ensure they continue to work properly.
Wear and Tear on Your Ball Joints
Replacing a ball joint or two is very common for mechanics. Don't worry if your part breaks, because any garage should be able to make a repair. Due to the location and amount of work the ball joints do, the parts suffer wear and tear. They corrode and can get stuck within the system.
The problem is they can also cause bigger problems if not dealt with quickly. It's common for ball joints to get stuck within the housed unit, and no amount of work can remove them. It's better to have your car serviced regularly to make sure the ball joints are working, as whole suspension and wheel systems can sometimes need to be replaced.
Signs of Ball Joint Problems
Before the ball joints become a major safety issue, you will notice problems with this part of your car. Tire wear is the most common sign, as broken joints will lead to bad tire alignment. You'll find that the tire wear is uneven and increased.
In some cases, the steering of your vehicle becomes difficult. Listen out for clunking sounds, especially when turning or moving over bumps.
While it is possible to change a ball joint yourself, this will be one of the hardest repairs you'll have to do. Garages are used to this repair, and mechanics will have the tools to get most ball joints out to avoid costly suspension replacements.