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

Tesla Model 3 TPMS Service

Resetting and programming TPMS sensors for a Tesla is a lot like any other vehicle, and the challenge is still the same: keeping the light off.

One of the first items to be replaced on any Tesla model are the tires. This is due to tire wear from the instant torque of the electric motor. When replacing the tires, you will have to service the TPMS sensors. Tesla has used Baolong (from 2012 to 2014), Continental (from 2014 to 2020) and a proprietary sensor that uses Bluetooth. For 2021, the Model Y started to use a sensor that communicates using Bluetooth protocols. Not much is known about the new system except that the sensors are currently available only through Tesla.

Can You Jumpstart an EV?

First thing’s first: Find the LV battery, which could be anywhere in the vehicle.

Understanding What Antifreeze/Coolant Actually Does

Today, each manufacturer has its own formula for best results in their vehicles. This video is part of the Group Training Academy.

How The Vehicle Cooling System Functions

Here’s what to know to clarify cooling questions you’re asked at the service counter. This video is part of The Group Training Academy.

Oil Filter Housing Weak Points & Standard® Solutions

Engineers at Standard® have created a completely assembled Oil Filter Housing Kit.

Other Posts

Autel’s ADAS Bay Max Vehicle Lift

Learn how this lift integrates mechanical repair, four-wheel alignment, and ADAS calibration, prioritizing efficiency and space utilization in your shop.

Optimize Tesla Performance With E-Fluids

Learn the differences between ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ e-axles. This video is sponsored by CRP Automotive.

Understanding Fuel Trims

The fuel trims are what govern what’s going on inside the engine. This video is sponsored by Auto Value and Bumper to Bumper.

Understanding the OAD Pulley

Discover the ins and outs of OAD pulleys, their role in belt drive systems, and learn the tricks of diagnosis and replacement. This video is sponsored by Continental.