How Ball Joints WorkBall joints are an important part of the vehicle suspension and steering system.
Ball joints are a flexible ball and socket that allows suspension movement in
more than one direction that enables positive control over the front wheels at
all time. There are commonly upper and lower ball joints that connect each front
wheel spindle to the control arms. When driving a car through a turn, the ball joint allows the suspension arms to flex up and down over bumps while another
ball joint connects the steering linkage to the steering knuckle on the spindle.
Ball joints are used to connect lower suspension control arm to the
knuckle on the spindle. When turning, the suspension travels up and
down and keeps constant control of the wheels. There are two types
of ball joints, sealed units which don't require lubrication, and standard ball
joints that require grease to be pumped into a zirk fitting.
MaintenanceWhen a ball joint becomes worn, they will have a measurable amount of play within the ball
and socket. Each manufacturer has an acceptable limit before replacement is
required. When driving a car over bumpy roads, the vehicle can jump one way or another after hitting a bump. Ball joints should
be inspected regularly.
Premature failure is usually the result of poor maintenance.
Written by Ken Lavacot Co-Founder and CEO of 2CarPros.com 35 years in the automotive repair field, ASE Master Technician, Advanced Electrical and Mechanical Theory.
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Article first published 2009-07-28 (Updated 2015-01-05)