What Are The Bad Ball Joint Symptoms And How to Fix it!

Ball joints being a part of the suspension system play a vital role. These joints are responsible for connecting the control arm of a car or any vehicle to the steering knuckles. This way, the joints handle the overall movement of the front wheels and suspension. Sometimes, the joints wear off, but that can be identified using the symptoms of bad ball joint.

Before going to know how to tell if a ball joint is bad or the sign of bad ball joints, let’s find out what is a ball joint in a car.

What Is Ball Joint In The Suspension System?

A ball joint is an essential part of the suspension in the car. In the modern car generation, all of the cars use ball joints. Furthermore, a ball joint is a spherical bearing placed in a mechanical socket. It plays an crucial role in the car as same as the ball and socket structure in the human body. In the car, it acts as the pivot point to connect the control arms of the car to the steering. The front ball joints allow the front wheels and suspension to move in various directions, thus providing optimal car movement.

The ball joints are hinges for the wheels on your vehicle. So if the “ball joints going bad” situation happens, the performance of the wheel will be worse, the wheel would not fold into the finder. The wheel will not move straight and this will have various other side effects the performance of your car also as the safety. So diagnosing the symptoms of bad ball joint is necessary to save your car on time.

Symptoms Of Bad Ball Joint: Knowing If A Ball Joint Is Malfunctioning

Here we are going to tell you some situations that take place only when there is a problem with the suspension system or the ball joints. In another word, they are the broken ball joint symptoms. It is recommended that once you encounter any of these conditions, do take your car to the professional repairman since leaving your car with the worn ball joint symptoms will damage your car and your health as we mentioned above.


Steering Wheel Wandering Off

The first symptom in the symptoms of bad ball joint chain is the steering wandering to the left or right. In the beginning, the signs can be subtle or not very harsh that come noticeable enough just in one drive. However, it is one of the symptoms of bad ball joint, where the overall driving experience gets compromised. When you feel the vehicle does not feel as stable as it used to be, then there is something down there that is malfunctioning.

signs of bad ball joints
The steering wandering to the left or right is the symptom of bad ball joint.

It is quite noticeable whenever you use that steering wheel, and it makes you wander instead of giving that stability. It is like the steering wheel trembles every time you take the turns that once used to be precise.

You can call it a phase where ball joints have begun to wear off, and thus, you should not wait anymore. Driving without having the situation repaired, only worsens the situation. The joints may not be necessarily worn out, but instead, they can be loose. Take it to a professional and get to know the exact reason why you do not get a quality ride.

Noise: Thump or Pound

If you are able to hear loud thudding noise while driving, it is about the bad ball joints. Even a slight bump or getting your car through the pothole can make you hear the noise. It indicates that there is a problem with the suspension, and due to the worn parts, the shock-absorbing property is not working well.

how to tell if a ball joint is bad
If you are able to hear loud thudding noise while driving, it is about the bad ball joints.

In the beginning, the noise may not be harsh, but as the time goes if you leave the issue untreated, the intensity arises. This can be a life-threatening situation, and it only gets worse with time. Ball joints affect the overall chassis of the vehicle, and if a joint completely breaks off, you won’t have any control on the vehicle while moving it into any particular direction.

Tire Wear

Tire wire is also a good factor to recognize if your car has symptoms of bad ball joint or not. You may experience an uneven ride where the tires are swinging unusually. It happens because the ball joint makes the tires point outward. As a result, the tire seems worn out from one end and okay at another end. This condition is visible in both of the front tires easily when there is an issue with the joints.

broken ball joint symptoms
Tire wire is also a good factor to recognize if your car has symptoms of bad ball joint.

The wear happens at one side of the tire’s tread that goes to the middle area to some extent. This pattern repeats on both tires, looking like camber wear, but a lighter version of that. The problem directly depicts that the issue lies with the suspension system, and more often, it happens to be the ball joint.

The Excessive Vibration From The Font Of The Vehicle

One of the symptoms of bad ball joint is the excessive vibration coming from the vehicle suspension. Worn ball joints will be loose in their sockets and vibrate excessively as the vehicle is in motion. The vibration usually stems from the affected ball joint, either from the right or left sides of the vehicle. In some cases, car owners can even feel the vibration through the steering wheel.

The Danger Of Worn Ball Joints

A worn ball joint is not a problem that should be put off—a catastrophic failure of any ball joint will result in your front suspension coming apart and causing loss of control of your vehicle. So you should definitely have your vehicle checked by your trusted mechanic who has experience in diagnosing and fixing suspension issues. 

If you continue driving a car with symptoms of bad ball joint, the whole suspension can be damaged. In some cases, the ball joint in your car can easily lock up. When it locks up, the motion that it usually absorbs does not go away, and this has adverse effects on the car performance. Therefore, the motion will be transferred to other components which are forced to accept the unusual motion due to the ball joints being the control arm bushings. By that, the bushings will get damaged easily.

worn ball joint symptoms
Bad ball joint can cause many damage to your car.

Secondly, worn ball joints can lead to car accidents when it completely breaks. The ball joint can break in various ways.  First, it might detach from the socket and study. Regardless of the type of breakage, the end result is usually appalling. In fact, any damage to the ball joint means that the wheel of the car can move in any direction. This issue can affect your ability to maintain optimal control of the vehicle as you drive on the road. Car accidents can happen whenever. Be aware of it and take your car to the mechanic for testing and repair right after you see the unusual move of your car.

How Far Can You Go with the Bad Ball Joints?

Well, it depends how badly the ball joints are injured or how much they have worn out. If you are driving on bad ball joints, most of the cases, you can drive for 500 miles with no severe issue. However, you should measure the intensity of worn joints first. If you experience the overall frame to wander here and there, then it is not safe to continue driving.

ball joints going bad
Most of the cases, you can drive for 500 miles with no severe issue.

However, car owners can still drive some miles even when their vehicles making squeaking sounds. So, there are no fixed rules about the miles you can drive; you need to prove the presence of mind in this case.

The Overall Replacement Cost

In general, the overall costs for replacement when your car has symptoms of bad ball joint depend state-wise; a rough estimate would be $220 to $300. It includes both the cost of the parts and labor. Also, the overall condition of the suspension system affects the cost too. In order to keep your car’s battery from self-discharging, read the maintenance tips here.

You should visit a few auto parts deliverers and confirm the pricing. Go with the one that seems to charge a fair price, but do not rush for a cheap alternative. The cost can be much higher if there are more parts damaged in the suspension system or anywhere else in your car. Only replace the faulty joints; you don’t have to go for all the joints at once if some of them are working fine.

How Often Do Drivers Need to Replace Ball Joints?

There is no fixed rule on replacing the ball joints. However, every time you take your car for servicing or for an oil change (if you do not do it yourself) you can ask the repair man to make sure everything is good with the suspension. If you think you haven’t taken the car to a repairman for a long time, you should take it then and get the ball joints checked.

driving on bad ball joints
Every time you take your car for servicing or for an oil change, you can ask the repairer to make sure everything is good with the suspension

By regularly having a check on the car, you won’t notice these symptoms ever. And if you experience any of these things, then try to take your car for a repair as soon as possible.

Tip: Drivers should check all the symptoms of bad ball joint since it is easy to diagnosed. It is always better to take precaution than to be sorry.


There are many different situations with ball joint: Some joints lose their lubrication, and thus, these joints are serviceable. Obviously, it would save you money to do a servicing instead of the replacement. By getting these joints lubricated again, they do not allow external factors to enter while driving, and so they can be brought back to life.

We hope you now understand the symptoms of bad ball joint and know what to do if this is the same case with you.