What Are Ball Joints? How Do They Work on My Car?

What is a Ball Joint?

A ball joint in simple terms is a bearing. This bearing allows movement on the X, Y, Z axis and reduces vibration in moving links. Ball joints in cars and trucks connect the upper control arm (UCA) to the steering knuckle. They have a taped rod that fits into the knuckle and are attached at the bottom with a castle nut. These nuts have cutouts that allow a cotter pin to be attached preventing the nut from spinning off.

What are Adjustable Ball Joints?

Due to normal wear and tear, and accident, potholes or even hitting a curb a cars alignment can be altered. If you ever have felt your car pulling to one side or the other, seen uneven or odd tire wear it's a good chance your car has an alignment issue.

If you have a clunking, or grinding noise when going over bumps or steering, it's a good change you have a joint issue.

Due to the ball joints location in the suspension system, it is the perfect place to change alignment angles like camber and caster. This is where adjustable ball joints come into play. These specialized parts feature a sliding section that allows a qualified technician to adjust alignment angles to correct a flaw in the vehicle, adjust for height change, and adjust for different tire configurations or even performance. These parts also let the tech adjust for caster, a steering angle which is critical when a car or truck has a height change.

How Do I Know If I Need New Ball Joints or an Alignment?

The first place to start is in the drivers seat! You know your car best. Do you find that the car is pulling to one side? Do you have feathering or cupping on your tires? Do you feel and hear a clunking noise when going over speed bumps? If you hear or see any of these symptoms, its best to head over to a trusted shop that can perform alignments. Then a technician can get the alignment statements for your vehicle and let you know if it's out of manufacturer specification. From there, an adjustable ball joint may have the solution to your issues.

Why Is Wheel Alignment Important To My Vehicle?

From the factory the vehicles manufacturer has taken into account the types of roads, driving and suspension within the vehicle. Each vehicle has different specs and even normal driving can cause serious and expensive problems. The problems can be as simple as your steering wheel not being centered, to more serious tire wear issues. These can be seen where the insides, or outsides of a tire are typically wearing, or where tires are wearing unevenly. A driver might also experience a "pulling" motion to one side or the other. These can be costly as a new set of tires for the average car now is about 400 dollars! Most alignments are under seventy dollars and can be completed by a reputable shop in under and hour. Check your local newspaper, yellow pages or mailers for specials.

How Much Do Adjustable Ball Joints Cost?

If you car does need ball joints, resist the urge to skimp. Ball joints are an integral part of the vehicles steering and suspension system and cutting corners could have consequences. Visit a reputable shop and make sure they are using a trusted brand.

Are Ball Joints Hard To Install?

This question really depends on the vehicle. Specialized tools are needed, along with an alignment to set the correct angles after installation. For these reasons its best to have a reputable shop install your new ball joints. Typical installation time is about 30 minutes per side. Do some research on your car and find out roughly how long it should take. Make sure your shop is quoting your correct amount of labor time.

Where Can I Buy Adjustable Ball Joints?

Visit your local repair center and ask for a recommendation or preference for parts. Again, do your research, making a choice based only on money could lead to expensive repairs, loss of use or loss of control while your are driving down the road. Ask your friends, word of mouth is often the best way to determine a reputable repair facility

Source by Travis Cozzie

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