If your car is making a consistent clunking noise every time you go over a bump, there might be a question ringing at the back of your head – what are the symptoms of a bad ball joint?
Before we answer that question, you need to know why ball joints are such an essential part of your car.
Best ball joints are small but significantly vital components of any modern car. These are ball-like bearings encased in a socket that connects the vehicle’s control arms to its steering knuckles.
It allows you to drive over bumps and other uneven surfaces smoothly.
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The Function of Ball Joints
The steering of your car also depends on this ball joint. If a ball joint is worn out, your vehicle becomes more prone to accidents caused by faulty steering.
Even though ball joints can last a long time, it’s better to check their condition.
And the ball joints in the front wheels enable the wheels to turn left and right when you move the steering wheel.
They also allow the suspension to move up and down when you drive over a bump.
This minimizes the shock absorbed during impact with the ground, and also reduces the jerking motion.
Ball joints don’t usually go wrong, but when they do, you’ll notice the signs yourself.
If your car shows the symptoms mentioned below, you need to replace the ball joints as soon as possible.
One of the most common symptoms of a failing ball joint is a distinct and constant clunking noise coming from the car’s front suspension.
It will be hard to ignore this sound as it becomes apparent every time you drive over an uneven surface. This is caused due to the ball joints wearing out because of repeated use.
When ball joints are deteriorating, they become loose inside their sockets. As a result, the spherical bearings move around inside the cavities.
Each time the wheel goes over a bump, the suspension moves up and down. This causes the ball bearings to rattle inside the sockets relentlessly.
They usually start making louder noises as the ball joints start wearing out gradually.
Eventually, the noticeable clunking can be heard whenever you make a turn or drive on a rough road.
The noise will continue getting louder until the ball joints are replaced or get damaged permanently.
Another dilemma caused by a failing ball joint is a constant vibration that easily is felt by the driver.
The waves start emanating from the vehicle’s suspension and proceed to either side of the car.
This problem will usually originate from a particular side of the front suspension – either left or right.
This tells you which side to look for a damaged ball joint and replace it. When the ball joint starts wearing out, it moves uncontrollably inside the socket.
This often causes vibrations that can get worse by the day. If you still don’t decide to check the ball joints, the situation can worsen.
You’ll soon realize that your vehicle is vibrating excessively every time your car is in motion.
This can continue to be more problematic as you may also start feeling the vibration through the steering wheel.
Steering Wandering Left or Right
This might be the most dangerous symptom of worn-out ball joints, and certainly, one to keep in mind.
When the ball joints are in perfect condition, and your steering is proper, the steering wheel usually stays steady.
Good ball joints will also enhance the direct response of your steering wheel.
It allows you to drive in a fluid motion, making every right turn at the right moment.
But a failing ball joint will make things a lot harder. A damaged ball joint will force the steering wheel to wander left or right by a certain distance automatically.
If you don’t manage to redirect the steering wheel in time, it can cause accidents.
This can harm both the driver and the passersby. When ball joints start deteriorating, it will have severe consequences on your vehicle.
It will alter the car’s handling, and you won’t feel the same fluidity while driving anymore.
Even though it’s such a small component, it’s one of the most critical parts of your car.
The riding characteristics and suspension of any vehicle highly depend on ball joints.
Damage can be caused by rough use of your vehicle, and also due to a lack of lubrication.
If you have reached the end of this article, you are well aware of the noticeable symptoms of a damaged ball joint.
If you observe any of the symptoms mentioned above, you should consider getting your vehicle’s suspension inspected by a professional technician.
Replace any ball joints if need be, and keep your vehicle safe from permanent damage.
We hope this gives a clear concept of the question – what are the symptoms of a bad ball joint?