Ball joints are essential components of suspension systems present in modern vehicles. They are round and fit into the socket to play a part.
They play an essential role in connecting the vehicle’s control arms to its steering. In addition, ball joints allow the wheels to adjust by moving them in every direction for a smooth drive.
How to tell if Ball Joints are Bad on Truck? Bad ball joints show various symptoms, including high-pitched noise and vibrations from the vehicle and steering wheel. Damaged ball joints lead to loose steering, and the truck will keep on bouncing. In addition, it can cause uneven wearing of tires, and the wheels will go out of balance, making the driving uneven.
Damage ball joints will affect the overall performance of wheels, and they will not move smoothly in a straight line.
Signs and symptoms of bad ball joints
A variety of symptoms are produced in your vehicle when ball joints become loose or worn out.
These symptoms vary from mild to severe according to the severity of the damage. These may not be serious initially but can prove life-threatening if you ignore them.
Whenever you hear a higher pitch sound coming from your vehicle, you should check loose joints and nuts.
One of the main indications of bad ball joints of Ford F150 is the intermittent rattling sounds coming from your vehicle.
They will start to produce a knock within the socket if they are prone to wear and tear and become loose.
Faulty ball joints will produce a high-pitched sound, especially from the front of the vehicle when you drive over the road.
These rattling sounds are more pronounced with a slight bump when you drive over a rough road, and it can be possibly due to damaged ball joints.
A rubber gasket is present in the joints that seal them, but this protective covering starts to break off with time.
Dust and grime will start to accumulate in these joints due to the wearing of gasket rubber, and a squeaking noise will be produced.
The noise is not harsh at the start but with time, the intensity of noise increases because of more damage to the joints.
Bouncing off the truck
Ball joints are essential in holding the vehicle’s load and preventing road hazards by absorbing shocks.
They are a critical part of a vehicle’s suspension system, and it is essential to keep them in good condition to experience safe and comfortable driving.
Shock absorbers are designed to absorb shocks from rough roads to make your wheels run smoothly on the ground.
The condition of shock absorbers remains unnoticed until you feel bumpy rides on the road, which is the leading indicator of damaged ball joints.
Wearing of shock absorber will make you feel that the vehicle is dipping in the ground and giving jerky movements.
They help to settle the vehicle after it gets hit by a bump, but worn-out joints will fail to control the vehicle leading to excessive bouncing.
Loose steering wheel
Another symptom of damaged ball joints is looser steering, which means the vehicle starts drifting to the right or left.
Faulty parts will be unable to keep your vehicle in a straight line, leading to the vehicle’s trembling.
They play an essential role in connecting your vehicle’s steering with the wheels, and damage to the joints will cause them to lose their control over steering.
Steering wheels stay in control when the ball joints are in a good position and the wheels are in proper alignment.
This adjustment will be lost, and the vehicle will start to move back and forth without control if there is a problem.
Damaged parts will also make steering stiff and create difficulty turning the vehicle according to need.
The vehicle’s overall handling is compromised, and the ride is no longer enjoyable if your vehicle becomes out of control due to bad ball joints.
Uneven tires wear
Tires are essential components of your vehicle and play a critical role in its handling.
Even properly aligned tires help to drive you smoothly in a well-controlled manner, but the problem with the ball joints will lead to the failure of even driving.
Intact and smooth tires make even contact with the ground and help drive the vehicle quickly, but worn-out ball joints disturb their smooth contact with the ground.
They will cause more damage to the inner and outer edges of your vehicle’s tire than the middle portion, resulting in the swinging of the tire.
Uneven, worn patches will start to appear on tires due to misalignment of ball joints, and they will create noise while rolling on the road.
Loose ball joints and sockets will ultimately lead the entire suspension to be out of control and alignment.
This can happen to one tire or both tires depending upon how much damage has occurred to these ball joints, and it is commonly seen on front tires of vehicles.
Vibration from vehicle and steering wheel
The leading cause of vibrations in your Ford F150 is unbalanced wheels due to faulty ball joints.
The vibration will depend on how many truck wheels have got out of balance. The vibrations are stronger at the steering wheel if only the front wheels are imbalanced.
These vibrations can be noticed throughout the vehicle’s body if the rear wheel is out of control.
Aside from loose steering, you can also notice unusual movement in your steering wheel if you have problematic ball joints.
They keep your pickup truck vibration-free, and if they are damaged, they will start to vibrate in their sockets.
Damage to the ball joints can occur either on one side of the wheel or on both sides, and these vibrations are more pronounced on the affected side.
You can also feel these vibrations from the steering wheel that makes it very unstable, and it will result in shaking of the truck leading to difficulty in driving.
These vibrations are noticeable at low speed if you drive on an uneven road and become loud if ball joints are cracked.
Severely damaged joints will lead to excessive vibration from the steering wheel even when driving on a smooth road.
This vibration from the steering wheel will be transferred to the entire vehicle, and you will feel that truck is about to break into pieces.
How to check if ball joints are bad on your truck?
It is essential to check the condition of ball joints if you feel unusual symptoms in the vehicle while driving it.
You can check the ball joints by driving your vehicle to confirm their replacement to ensure a safe journey.
Drive the vehicle on the road, and if you listen to any noise in the vehicle, it can be a sign of damaged ball joints.
Excessive vibrations coming from the steering wheel and wandering steering will also signify replacing these parts.
You can also check the integrity of ball nuts by turning the steering wheel, and if you feel bumping sound and wandering steering, you should replace them.
You can also visually inspect ball joints by raising the front aspect of the vehicle on a jack stand. After raising the vehicle put wood blocks behind the rear wheel to prevent them from rolling.
You can grasp the tire from top and bottom and shake it in and out along its vertical axis, and there should be no movement if the joints are intact.
You can remove the wheel and use a flashlight to inspect signs of rust and dust and determine their replacement need.
The lower control arm and steering nut are connected with the help of a ball joint, and you can inspect them using a pinch bar.
The clicking sound is produced when you attempt to pull them apart using a pry bar that indicates loose ball joints, and you need to replace them.
Loosening of the grease-fitting collar will also indicate the loosening of the ball joint, and you should replace them.
Wear indicator uses grease that provides lubrication to provide safe and easy movement of wheels. You should check for the quantity of grease in the collar because its amount affects its functioning.
How long do ball joints last?
Ball joints are made up of strong material because they are essential components of the Ford F150 vehicle to ensure danger-free driving.
They are durable and can last longer, but they become prone to damage if you drive on bumpy roads.
Their life span also depends on their quality, and low-quality ball joints will be damaged easily in a short time.
You can expect to have ball joints replaced between 65,000 to 155,000 miles of driving.