What are Ball Joints?
Virtually every car has them: ball joints, a steel bearing stud and socket that connects your vehicle’s control arm and spindle, similar to a person’s hip joint.
Most ball joints have rubber boots that keep dirt and debris from penetrating the vehicle’s internal components. When a ball joint starts to lose its strength, it will typically make noise and will become loose. If the ball joint completely let’s go, the wheel of your automobile will flip sideways. Loose ball joints may make a clicking, popping or snapping sound when hitting bumps and/or turning the wheel, indicating that immediate service and repair is needed.
What are Control Arms?
A control arm is a hinged suspension component that attaches the chassis to the suspension (spindle, hub, etc.) that carries the wheel. The control arm contains a ball joint as well as bushings and a slightly curved or, often times, wishbone-shaped component. Replacing the entire control arm versus just the ball joint offers better value and long-term repair since the bushings in the control arm are replaced at the same time. These bushings wear over time as they are rubber, so replacing the entire control arm saves future budget. Sometimes the ball joints are not able to be pressed out of the control arm in order to replace them, requiring the entire control arm to be replaced.
Some vehicles have only a lower control arm and some vehicles have upper and lower control arms.
Inspecting Ball Joints and Control Arms
To inspect ball joints, a technician will put your vehicle on a lift and push the wheel back and forth to see if it moves. The tire should be completely tight to the vehicle and no noise be present when pushing on the wheel. If there is any movement or noise there is a loose component. A trained technician needs to determine what is causing the symptom as multiple components can cause these same symptoms. The more the ball joints loosen, the greater chance that the tires will show signs of uneven wear. Like ball joints, control arms will wear over time.
If you believe you have a worn out or failing control arms or ball joints or any noise that you may be hearing, let Carz R’ Us provide a vehicle inspection to diagnose the problem. We’ll provide the best options for maintenance and repair so you can get your vehicle back on the road, keeping you and your passengers safe.