What is a Ball Joint and how does it work?

A car’s ball joint is a spherical bearing in a socket. They work similarly to the ball and socket design of a human being’s hip, and it acts as one of the major suspension pivot points connecting the control arms of the vehicle to the steering knuckles. The ball joints at the front allow the suspension and front wheels 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. When a front ball joint fails, the vehicle will show a few symptoms that will alert the driver that a faulty ball joint is present.



1. Clunking noises coming from the front suspension

Clunking noises coming from the vehicle’s front suspension is one of the common symptoms of a bad ball joint. When ball joints wear out they become loose and will knock and rattle as the suspension travels up and down over the roadway. 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, or until they eventually completely fail and break.

2. Excessive vibration coming from the front of the vehicle

Other symptoms of problematic ball joints are excessive vibrations coming from the suspension of the vehicle. A worn out ball joint will be loose in it’s socket and their will be excessive vibration while the vehicle is moving. This vibration usually comes from the faulty ball joint, from either the front or left sides of your vehicle. This vibration may also be felt through the steering wheel.

3. Steering wandering to right or left

A wandering steering wheel is another symptom of faulty ball joints. The term wandering steering refers to when the vehicle’s steering drifts from either right or left on its own. When your ball joints are in good working order and the vehicle is properly aligned, the steering wheel will mostly stay straight and supposed to be firm in response.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, then you should get your vehicle checked out by a mechanic.