Understanding Ball Joints (VIDEO)

Understanding Ball Joints (VIDEO)

Always check manufacturer specifications and specific inspection procedures to be sure you are getting the job done right.

Understanding ball joints and how to check them are an important part of every safety inspection. If the control arm transfers load directly to the suspension spring, the ball joint on that arm is a loaded ball joint because the weight of the vehicle is transferred through it to the spring. Any remaining joint is considered a follower joint, which simply serves as a pivot point.

There are many different designs of suspensions, which changes the location of the loaded or follower joints, and a typical stretch suspension only has one follower joint on each side, since the weight of the vehicle is transferred through the steering knuckle into the strut and spring. It’s important to identify the type of joint so you can also identify the proper method for inspection. When checking for ball joint wear, the manner in which you lift and support the vehicle or suspension will affect the outcome.

One example is this typical SLA suspension in which you must unload the suspension by jacking up the vehicle under the lower control arm, or the tension of the spring will prevent any play in the joints from being detectable. Another example is this SLA suspension with the coil spring above the upper arm, and you must jack the vehicle up by the frame. And on a typical strut suspension, the vehicle must also be supported by the frame. In addition to the proper support, you may check them by hand or you may have to use a pry bar, and you should always use a dial indicator to determine the amount of free play.

It’s a common misconception that any free play means a bad ball joint, but depending on the type of joint, some may be acceptable and some joints use the grease fitting position as a wear indicator. Bottom line is to always check manufacturer specifications and specific inspection procedures to be sure you are getting the job done right.

Thanks for watching The Striking Point from TechShop. I’ll see you next time.

You May Also Like

VVT Sprockets and Solenoids

Advanced engine management systems like VVT play a crucial role in achieving this balance by allowing for dynamic adjustments to valve timing.

In this video, we explore the intricacies of Variable Valve Timing (VVT) and its impact on modern engines. Automakers face the challenge of creating vehicles that are fuel-efficient, environmentally friendly, and still thrilling to drive. Advanced engine management systems like VVT play a crucial role in achieving this balance by allowing for dynamic adjustments to valve timing.

EV Safety Basics on the Shop Floor – Part I

It’s critical to utilize OEM service information and procedures for each and every hybrid or EV.

Empowering the Automotive Aftermarket Through Collaboration

Distributors, manufacturers, training institutions, associations and service providers all help automotive professionals stay ahead in a market that is constantly evolving with new technologies, trends and customer demands.

Understanding LSPI & Engine Oil

Using the correct manufacturer-recommended oil is crucial for peak performance and long-lasting engine health.

Serpentine Belt and Drive System Maintenance

Properly maintaining the entire drive system prevents premature belt wear and system failure, ensuring customer satisfaction and vehicle reliability.

Other Posts
Randy Breaux, Group President, GPC North America, Talks to AMN Drivetime

At NAPA, “Breaux Knows” business relationships, ABCs to avoid, and serving the automotive professional.

How Modern Car Sensors Optimize Performance and Emissions

Learn how Standard ensures accuracy, speed, and durability in their sensors to maximize engine performance and efficiency.

Five Tips for your Next Wheel Bearing Job

These practical tips are designed to save you time and frustration, ensuring a smooth, noise-free outcome for your customers.

Do EVs Require Special Brake Pads?

Proper brake pad selection is crucial for EVs to ensure consistent stopping power and long pad life.