Even though the name sounds small, the function is big. Ball joints help support your car’s weight by serving as a connection and pivot point between the suspension and your tires. In today’s cars these parts are typically lubricated so that you never need to re-lube them. A vehicle may have an upper and lower ball joint on each side, or, in the case of many modern cars, it may have a MacPherson strut suspension which utilizes only one joint on each side. While the lubrication usually lasts for the life of the part, the ball joints themselves can wear out and go bad. Signs that your ball joints need replacing include:
- Uneven tire wear – one of the main symptoms that this part needs replacing
- Pulling or other abnormal steering problems
- A knocking noise, particularly when going over bumps
Because ball joints take a considerable amount of stress due to repeated turns, as well as bearing the weight of the vehicle, you want to ensure that you’re buying replacement joints that are strong, durable, and made of quality materials.
Keep a few things in mind to make sure you’re getting good quality ball joints:
Verify the correct fit first :Check your owner’s manual or the carmaker’s website to get exact specifications for your part. You’ll need to find out whether your car has upper and lower, or just one on each side, and double-check that you’re using the correct one before installing because the upper and lower parts are different from each other.
Choose a quality design: Even though the parts are basically all the same – bearings, spring or washer, housing, and end cover, and ball stud, that doesn’t mean the durability is equal on the inside. You want high-strength metal bearings that will go the distance.
Choose quality materials: Hardened steel and other heavy-duty materials are superior because they resist wear.
Look for high-resistance coating: This protects the parts from corrosion caused by contaminants.
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This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How to Buy Good Quality Ball Joints and was authored by Valerie Johnston.