Signs that Your Vehicle May Need New Ball Joints - Shingle Springs Subaru Service

It's important to take care of your joints -- and not just the ones on your body. Or your movies, if you're Spike Lee. Your car has important joints, too. The ball joints are a critical steering system linkage, and they commonly wear out and need to be replaced. We'll answer some of your most common questions about ball joints, symptoms and replacement below.

Ball joints are flexible joints that help connect the wheels and steering systems to the suspension

4. What Are Ball Joints?

Found on virtually every modern vehicle ever made, ball joints are key linkages in your vehicle's front suspension & steering systems. They mate the steering knuckles to the control arms -- or, put more simply, they connect the components inside the front wheels to the steering arms that move as you turn the steering wheel. They have a ball-and-socket construction, similar to a human being's shoulder or hip joint. This allows for smooth, limited motion in all sorts of directions. That way, even as you turn, travel over bumps and tackle potholes, the wheels remain connected and you remain in control, without causing severe vibrations or harsh impacts in the cabin.

Complete Front End Steering & Suspension

3. What Are The Signs Of Bad Ball Joints?

Problems with your vehicle's alignment or steering could be caused by bad ball joints. If your car isn't handling like you expect, or seems to be pulling to one side, the ball joints may need to be replaced along with an alignment service.

Another sign of bad ball joints is uneven tire wear. If one of your tires seems to be wearing out more quickly than the rest, a bad ball joint could be putting additional stress on that tire.

However, by far the most common sign of a bad ball joint is a clunking or knocking noise coming from your suspension, particularly when making tight turns or going over bumps. You may even notice a single loud sound, followed by a change in steering characteristics, when the ball joint first fails. However, you most likely won't notice a major change. You may even be informed about bad ball joints after a multipoint inspection of your vehicle.

Loose or worn ball joints may clunk when you steer

2. How Do Ball Joints Become Damaged?

Over time, the rubberized "boot" that protects the ball joints from dirt and debris may become damaged. This can allow particulate to get into the joint and degrade it, or allow moisture inside allowing rust to form. This can cause your ball joints to seize up. In some cases, we may be able to replace the boot and lubricate the joint if it is still in-tact. However, replacing ball joints that have gone bad is not an uncommon procedure on modern cars, or a terribly expensive one.

Furthermore, a ball joint may fail completely and allow the ball to rattle around in its socket or even pop out altogether. This is what causes a knocking or clunking sound, especially while turning.

1. How Can I Get My Ball Joints Fixed?

While it's not uncommon for ball joints to begin wearing out on modern vehicles after 80,000 miles, with proper maintenance, you may be able to keep your ball joints in good condition for the whole life of your car. Most modern cars have lifetime lubricated ball joints, though on older cars you may need to have the ball joints lubricated periodically for maximum longevity.

And if you do need new ball joints, trust the authorized Subaru dealership pros at the Shingle Springs Subaru service center! We'll use quality, OEM replacement parts to keep your vehicle performing like new.

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Shingle Springs Subaru

4045 Wild Chaparral Dr
Directions Shingle Springs, CA 95682

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