When is it time to replace ball joints? Once every 70,000 miles or whenever you notice any symptoms of a bad ball joint, including:
- Weird clunking or rattling noise
- Car wandering off the road
- Uneven wear and tear in the tires
- Strong vibration in the vehicles front end
Your vehicle suspension system is one of the critical systems you have to maintain to ensure a safe, smooth ride and prevent hazardous situations. Like any other system, the suspension system might have certain where-outs that you need to pay attention to and fix immediately.
One of the core elements in the suspension system that might be underestimated is the ball joint. The ball joint typically sits between the vehicle's wheel and the remaining part of the suspension system. Since these joints experience a lot of friction and other external forces, they might wear out over time, and you must replace them. However, the question always remains when is it time to replace ball joints?
This article provides you with all you need to know about the purpose of the ball joints in your vehicle. At this time, you must replace them, other symptoms indicating that you're dealing with a bad ball joint, and a general overview about the expected repair costs for replacing these ball joints.
What is the ball joint, and what does it do?
The ball joint is a very significant component in most vehicles nowadays that are equipped with a front suspension system. The purpose of having a ball joint in your vehicle is to allow two elements to move in different directions simultaneously without causing any disturbance to the drive.
In the case of vehicles, there are typically two ball joints: one on the top of the wheel and one on the bottom. These ball joints play several roles, including holding the tire and wheel in place and allowing the wheel to move up and down and turn in older actions without impacting or causing damages to the suspension system.
When is it time to replace ball joints?
Typically, automotive experts recommend changing the ball joints once every 70,000 miles. However, there are some instances where the ball joint might break down or wear out prematurely. That's why it's important to learn about the common symptoms of a bad ball joint so you can detect the problem before it gets more complicated.
Some severe scenarios where a bad ball joint might lead to critical, dangerous situations that could get you involved in major car accidents. Therefore, learning one or two things about your vehicle's ball joint helps you prevent and eliminate these situations.
What are the common symptoms of a bad ball joint?
Over time of use, these ball joints wear out, or probably the socket that's holding them might wear itself out. There are multiple ways these ball joints can wear out or get damaged and require replacement. For example, as these balls were out, they might get looser and eventually pop out of the socket, and in severe scenarios, the wheel itself might even pop off of the vehicle.
The good news is that all want experts are aware of what could happen with a bad ball joint. Therefore, they collected a list of potential symptoms of a bad ball joint to monitor your vehicle. Whenever you text them, you must consult your mechanic and replace them immediately.
Let's take a closer look at some of the common symptoms of a bad ball joint:
1. Weird clunking or rattling noise
One of the first and most common symptoms of a bad ball joint is when you start hearing weird clunking or rattling noises. This typically happens when the ball joint is very loose, and it's just moving like crazy in the socket and hitting the walls of the sockets causing these weird noises.
In general, you'll notice that these noises typically come from the front portion of your vehicle. You must monitor where this noise is coming from to alert you to other stuff. In general, whether it's a bad ball joint or anything else, it is always important that you monitor any weird noises coming out of your car because it's typically related to an internal problem.
2. Car wandering off the road
Another thing you might notice when the ball joints are embedded condition is that you cannot make your vehicle drive straight. At any time, if you let go of your steering wheel, you'll notice that the car is drifting towards one side more than the other. That symptom can be related to a long list of potential culprits, ranging from the steering system to other stuff associated with the suspension system itself.
However, a bad ball joint might be an actual culprit for this car wandering off the road.
3. Uneven wear and tear in the tires
If you take a closer look at your tires, you should be able to tell whether the wear and tear are normal or not. In general, the wear and tear on the tires should be even throughout the entire tire. However, if you notice that the tire is more worn out from one side than the other, it indicates that you're having an issue.
While many kinds of stuff could lead to having uneven tire wear, a bad ball joint might be a real culprit. Therefore, you want to consult your mechanic and have him thoroughly inspect the suspension system and other components related to the steering system to confirm what's going on. Once the ball joint is confirmed to be the culprit, you have no other choice than to replace it.
4. Strong vibration in the vehicles front end
Vehicle vibration can be very scary, especially if driving at highway speeds. Vibration might be linked to a long list of potential components, typically within the suspension system or probably the steering system.
In general, if you realize that your car is vibrating, especially from the front side, you're most likely dealing with a bad ball joint. Have your mechanic take a look and explain to him what exactly you deal with these vibrations to confirm the culprit. In some scenarios, it could be a combination of multiple issues, and therefore, by only fixing the ball joints, you might not eliminate the problem.
5. Loose ball joint
Sometimes you can perform a quick visual inspection to help yourself determine whether your issue is related to a bad ball joint or not. For example, you can easily look at the balls' joints and see if they are not sitting properly in the socket. Sometimes you'll be able to move your wheel side to side or up and down and see how the balls wine responses.
You can even detect any signs of cracks or probably corrosion around the ball joints and their sockets. Whenever you notice any of these, it could indicate that you're either getting close to problems with the ball joints or you're already dealing with such problems.
There are plenty of available online tutorials that walk you through ways to check the ball joints and confirm you're not dealing with any bad ball joints.
How much does it cost to replace the ball joints?
The good news is that the ball joint replacement cost is not very expensive, and the part is even cheaper. Typically, it should cost you between $20 and $80 to replace a ball joint. However, you should also account for labor costs that differ significantly depending on where you get the job done and your car's model. In general, labor costs should range from as low as $60 to as high as $200.
If you have the right mechanical skill sets, you don't have to worry about labor costs. However, most automotive experts always recommend leaving it to professionals, especially if dealing with a sensitive component like the ball joint. However, you can save on labor costs by going to a small independent shop versus going to a dealership that has a much higher labor cost.
Can I drive with a bad ball joint?
Never a good idea. According to automotive experts, driving a car with a bad ball joint damages several components within the suspension system, if not other systems. Also, if you continue driving a ball joint in a very terrible condition, you might even lose control of your car, and in some instances, you might lead yourself to get involved in major car accidents.
Therefore, whatever is preventing you from fixing the ball joints should not be more important than keeping your safety and the safety of other people driving around you on the road.
Is it worth fixing a bad Ball joint?
It depends. In general, you must fix the ball joint to prevent getting involved in safety issues. However, when thinking about it from repair cost-wise, you'll need to step back and evaluate your overall situation.
You must put together accommodation, and a total calculation of the repair costs needed. Once you have one number, you can compare it with your vehicle's overall value. If you realize that their cost is close to 75% or more from the value of your car, that's when it's not worth fixing it.
However, there are some other instances where it might not be worth fixing the bad ball joint. For example, if you've been owning this car for more than ten years, it's most likely that you will need to upgrade the vehicle and buy a better one that suits your needs. This could involve needing a larger car to include one of your extra family members or probably to upgrade the car because you had a better job.
Therefore, you must evaluate the main pros and cons of fixing the ball joints before making a final repair decision.
Remember that sometimes it might be hard to find a potential buyer to purchase your car with a bad ball joint, especially if it leads to major complications in the suspension system. Therefore, even if you're looking for a good profit, you must be upfront with the buyer and explain all the details about what's going on in your car. However, it's never the end of the world to not have a private buyer because Cash Cars Buyer is always willing to buy your car despite its type or condition. If you're interested in more details, you can always reach out to our team at 773-7914363.
The ball joints are critical components in the suspension system. Since they wear out over time, you need to understand when to replace the ball joints. Typically, automotive experts recommend replacing them once every 70,000 miles; however, some instances might wear out prematurely. Since that's the case, you will have to familiarize yourself with different symptoms of a bad ball joint to prevent dealing with complicated outcomes that might put your life at risk.
Remember that fixing the ball joints is essential; however, if your vehicle has other major mechanical problems, it might make the most sense to evaluate the overall repair cost and compare it to your vehicle's value. If you got to a point where repair costs are piling up and approaching your vehicle's value, it would probably be better for you to sell the car rather than wasting your efforts trying to make it work.
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