If your car’s front wheels’ ball joints suddenly get failed while driving, you must brake the car in the fastest time. Do it softly; a hard brake can cause an accident and worsen things further.
One of the most common symptoms of a bad ball joint is that the car will squeak. Additionally, when you are driving, a faulty ball joint may be popping and clunking in potholes.
But, a failed ball joint can be stuck and destroy the rim and tire. In addition to this, there is a risk that the wheel may separate from the vehicle.
Where Do Ball Joints Located?
Figure 01- Anatomy of a ball joint
The ball joints of vehicles are a part of the suspension system. By the way, it is located on the front suspension system of vehicles. On a fundamental level, the steering knuckles and the control arms are connected to the suspension system through these ball joints.
The ball joint links your automobile’s wheel to the suspension system. It is comparable to the human hip joint. It is a critical element in ensuring the suspension on your automobile operates appropriately.
There have to be lower and upper ball joints on the front suspension. It includes 4 ball joints on each side of the front suspension.
Why Do Ball Joints Fail?
The ball joint problem doesn’t happen often. It could happen years after use. By this time, there are a bunch of events that could be happened to fail or stick a ball joint.
So that you know, the underneath of your automobile is entirely open to the elements. It is subjected to mud, oil, filth, salt, and everything else that might be thrown at it.
As a result, the lubrication of the ball joint gets poor. This drives the ball joint to be stuck inside or loosened.
Note: The ball joints have a lifetime of around 70000 miles. However, it can vary, and the most important determinants of the ball joint longevity of your car are your driving style and the state of the roads you travel on.
Ball Joint Failure Symptoms
Figure 02- Ball Joint Failure Symptoms
You will see and feel several symptoms while your car’s ball joint(s) has failed. If you find the following four symptoms, it’s time to get a ball joint replacement.
1. Noisy and Clunking Sound from Suspension Side
One of the primary symptoms is an irregular clunking and clicking noise from the suspension system. If you get a rattling that seems to get louder with time, it’s almost certain that the sound comes from the ball joint due to failure.
2. Inconsistent Wear on the Front Tire
A failed or bad ball joint occurs as an uneven alignment to one of the front tires (Mainly which sides got the lousy ball joint). This state of the wheel results in uneven wear on the front tire.
Generally, a bad ball joint occurs a single tire gets uneven wear. If you find both tires got the same state, it could be a different problem instead of a failed ball joint.
3. Inconsistent Steering Wheel Feel
Another big symptom is an inconsistent steering wheel feel on your hands. The steering wheel could feel extra loose or tight over time.
You also might feel your vehicle is vibrating even on a smooth road which shouldn’t happen actually. The vehicle also could drift right or left.
With all symptoms, you can stay assured that your ball joint is worn out and that it’s time to replace it.
What to Do when Ball Joint Failure on Highway or Any Other Road?
If you are driving and you feel your car’s ball joint fails, the primary step is to brake the car as soon as you get it.
You have then several options.
- Keep the car roadside instead of in the middle of the road
- Don’t panic
- Hang a white cloth on the driverside mirror if you have one. You also can use anything that hooks attention.
- Call for help through the emergency helpline, your auto club, or highway patrol for towing your car.
If you are a mechanic yourself or an experienced vehicle enthusiast, you might be able to replace the worn ball joint on your own. In this case, you can tow your car at home.
Otherwise, tow the car to a professional mechanic who will replace your vehicle’s ball joint efficiently. As it is a complex job and doesn’t happen often, it is not certain that car owners normally fix this issue.
Here is an in-depth video about how to replace a lower ball joint.
Is It Dangerous to Drive With a Bad Ball Joint
So, how long can you drive on a bad ball joint? The question comes often. To put it simply, you SHOULD NOT drive on a worn ball joint of your car.
It could drive you and your car in the worst situation with an accident. The steering wheel could be entirely out of control in no time. Instead of driving the car with a worn ball joint, replace it as soon as possible.