Bad Ball Joints on Truck – Early Signs, Causes & Fixes

Signs of bad ball joints on a truck

Ball joints are basically the articulating connection between the suspension of your vehicle and the wheels. They allow the wheels to move up and down as well as side to side so that the truck can negotiate different types of terrain.

The ball joint consists of a metal ball that is housed inside a socket. The ball is attached to the control arm of the suspension by a stud. The socket, on the other hand, is connected to the wheel spindle.

There are a few types of ball joints on the truck. These include:

  • Upper ball joints are the ones that connect the control arm to the spindle.
  • Lower ball joints are the ones that connect the control arm to the steering knuckle.
  • Inner ball joints and outer ball joints connect the control arm to the frame of the vehicle.

Early Signs of a Bad Ball Joint on Your Truck

Bad ball joints can cause a lot of problems for your truck. Here are four early signs that you have a problem with your truck’s ball joints.

1. Your Truck Doesn’t Handle As it Used to

If your truck starts to feel like it’s floating or wobbling, then that’s a sign that your ball joints are starting to fail. You might also notice that your truck is pulling to one side or the other. If you notice any of these changes in how your truck handles, then it’s time to get the ball joints on your vehicle checked.

2. Strange Noises Coming from the Suspension

If you start to hear popping, clicking, or creaking noises coming from the suspension, then that’s another sign that the ball joints are starting to fail. These noises are caused by the metal-on-metal contact that is happening as the ball joints start to wear out.

Along with these sounds, you may sometimes also notice your truck vibrating or shaking aggressively. This is because the ball joints are not able to properly support the weight of the truck, which causes the suspension to bounce.

3. Your Truck’s Tires are Wearing Unevenly

If you notice that your truck’s tires are wearing down unevenly, then that’s a sign that the ball joints are not functioning properly. This happens because the ball joints are not holding the suspension in place as they should. As a result, the weight of the truck is not being distributed evenly, which causes the tires to wear down unevenly.

4. There is Visible Damage to the Ball Joints

You might notice that the ball joint is cracked, chipped, or broken with time and usage. If you can see that the ball joint is getting such damage, that’s a sure sign that it needs to be replaced.

What Causes Ball Joints on Truk to Get Damaged?

Bad ball joints on your truck, car, or jeep can be caused by a number of things, including wear and tear, hitting a pothole, or an accident.

Furthermore, ball joints can also be damaged by rust. Rust can cause the ball joint to seize up, making it difficult for the suspension to move. This can lead to the wheels losing contact with the ground, which can be extremely dangerous.

Thirdly, ball joints can also be damaged by improper alignment. If the wheels are not properly aligned, it puts a lot of stress on the ball joints, which can eventually lead to damage.

How to Repair Damaged Ball Joints – What will be the Cost?

Driving on bad ball joints can damage the suspension and cause the wheels to come off. To repair bad ball joints, you will need to take your car to a mechanic. The mechanic will remove the old ball joints and install the new ones.

Problems in ball joints can also be fixed if you want to do it yourself. However, I would recommend this only if you have some experience in repairing cars and trucks.

To fix the issues in a DIY way, you can follow these steps…

  1. Take out the old ball joint.
  2. Clean up any rust and debris around the area.
  3. Place the new ball joint in and hand-tighten the bolts.
  4. Use a torque wrench to tighten the bolts to the proper specification.
  5. Check that the ball joint is working properly by moving the suspension up and down.

The cost of repairing bad ball joints will vary depending on the severity of the damage and the make and model of your vehicle. In most cases, it will cost between $200 and $400 to have the ball joints repaired by a professional mechanic. If, however, you decide to repair it yourself, you can expect to pay around $100 for the parts.

Ball joints typically need to be replaced every 50,000 miles or so. But this will vary depending on the make and model of your vehicle. It is best to consult your owner’s manual or a mechanic to find out how often you should replace your ball joints.

Can you replace just one ball joint on your vehicle?

You can replace one ball joint on your vehicle, but it’s not advisable. Eventually, the other ball joints will also fail, making it necessary to replace all of them. To avoid having to repeat the task soon, it’s better to replace all of the ball joints at the same time.

What will wear out first – the upper or lower ball joints?

The upper ball joints may wear out first, but this can vary depending on the vehicle’s make and model. It’s recommended to check the owner’s manual or ask a mechanic to determine which ball joints are most prone to failure in your specific vehicle.

Do you need an alignment after replacing the ball joints?

While getting an alignment after replacing ball joints is not mandatory, it is recommended because the new ball joints will be positioned differently from the old ones, and an alignment will guarantee that your vehicle is driving in a straight line.