7-Step Guide for Checking Ball Joints Using Pictures
To determine if your vehicle's ball joint needs replacing, there are a few steps you should follow. Firstly, look for a wear indicator, typically a grease fitting located on the bottom of the steering knuckle attached to the wheel. If it is receding inwards, it's time to replace the ball joint. However, newer cars may not have such indicators, so it's worth raising the car and inspecting the joint closely.
When checking a loaded lower ball joint, ensure that there is no compression in the suspension. Manufacturers will recommend that you place a jack under the lower control arm as close to the ball joint as possible, and raise the car until the wheel is off the ground. This eases tension on the joint, allowing you to check for any play more effectively.
Next, rock the wheels back and forth to see if there is any radial or vertical play. This can be done using a dial indicator, placed on the side of the nut or spindle, or against the steering knuckle stud nut or ball joint housing. If there is any movement beyond the manufacturer's specifications, replace the ball joint immediately.
Remember, experienced mechanics may rely on feel or sound to detect wear. Finally, if your vehicle uses MacPherson struts, look for a grease fitting and wiggle it to check for any looseness. Avoid using the lower control arm when jacking up front-wheel drive cars with strut suspensions; instead, consult your owner's manual and jack up the car on the front cross-member.
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