Ball joints are an essential part of your car’s suspension. They connect your steering to your control arms, allowing you to be able to turn your wheels. The type of ball joints your vehicle has will depend on its make and model, and the type of suspension system. A ball joint, front and back, could be a serviceable unit (i.e. an open system that can be periodically lubricated), or it could be a sealed unit, with the grease installed at the time of manufacture being intended to last the full life of the ball joint.
So, what exactly is the life of a ball joint? Ball joints are always working any time that you are driving, and they are not permanent fixtures in your vehicle. They are vulnerable to damage from rough road conditions, as well as ordinary wear and tear. Generally speaking, you should expect to have to have your ball joints replaced between 70,000 to 150,000 miles of driving. Excessive play in the joint can cause additional wear, and if a ball joint fails, your car’s suspension could collapse and you could lose control of the vehicle. Signs that your ball joints may need to be replaced include:
- Abnormal tire wear
- Creaking noise
- Shaking steering wheel
- Car veers to left or right when hitting bumps
- Clunking in front tires
Your ball joints are essential to the drivability of your car, and to your safety. So if you notice any of the above symptoms, and you think that your ball joints may need to be replaced, you should consult a professional mechanic as soon as possible to have the ball joint swapped immediately.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How Long Does a Ball Joint Front Last? and was authored by Valerie Johnston.