Bad Ball Joint? How to Diagnose and Fix Ball Joints Yourself

Bad Ball Joint?
Expert advice to diagnose & fix

If you think your car is experiencing suspension issues, our mechanic shows you what a bad ball joint looks like in the video below. The car he’s working on had just failed a Massachusetts state inspection because it had loose, worn ball joints. Watch now:

How to Diagnose a Loose or Worn Ball Joint

What Are Ball Joints for? What Do They Do?

Ball joints or rubber control arm bushings are mounted to a vehicle’s control arms, and allow control arms to smoothly rotate up and down. You can read more about control arms in our Control Arms 101 article.

What Are the Symptoms of a Bad Ball Joint?

Faulty ball joint symptoms can include the following:

  • Unexpected steering & suspension movements when driving 
  • Steering knuckle moving independently from the control arm
  • Clunking or squeaking noises
  • You can learn about other symptoms of worn, loose, or failing ball joints in our article Front-End Clunking Noise?

How Can I Diagnose a Bad Ball Joint?

After safely raising your vehicle off the ground, we recommend inspecting your suspension for the same items that were tested in our Chevy Equinox in the Massachusetts state inspection that it failed. Those suspension items include:

Front Suspension:

Shake the tires up and down and back and forth from the 12 and 6 o’clock position to confirm your ball joints are loose or worn, and that other parts, like your tie rods or wheel hubs, aren’t also loose.

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Steering Knuckle and Control Arm:

Now, shake your tire back and forth. If you see your steering knuckle move independently from the control arm like in our Chevy Equinox, that’s a definite defective ball joint sign.

Visual Inspection:

Visually inspect the ball joint. The ball joint should not be leaking grease, it should not be excessively loose, and it should not have a torn boot. If the ball joint is torn and damaged, it needs to be replaced.

Dial Indicator:

You can also diagnose ball joints with a dial indicator. Check out our article covering this subject to learn more.

Need to Replace Bad Ball Joints? Watch Our How-to Videos

If you have a failed ball joint, learn how to replace it yourself with step-by-step instructions from professional mechanics in our how-to videos.

Shop Replacement Parts:

Related blog posts and articles

Bad Ball Joint? Expert Tips to Diagnose & Fix a Faulty Ball Joint - 1A Auto
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Bad Ball Joint? Expert Tips to Diagnose & Fix a Faulty Ball Joint - 1A Auto
Our mechanic shows you bad ball joint signs and how you can diagnose them to figure out if it's time to replace your ball joints.
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1A Auto
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