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How to Check if a Ball Joint is Bad


Hey guys, ChrisFix here and today I’m gonna show you how to check your ball joint to see if it has gone bad or if it’s still
good so here’s what a bad ball joint sounds
like when you turn the steering wheel or your suspension moves and upon visual inspection you could see
the boots to the ball joints are cracked allowing dirt and water and everything to get in there
and these are non grease-able so these need to be serviced. This is
the lower ball joint that we’re looking at here’s the upper ball joint and you can see
it’s the same story the upper bowl joint can’t be replaced the whole control arm must be replaced but with the lower ball joint we can replace just the ball joint I’m now gonna show you how to check the ball joints with the truck jacked up off the ground so with both tires securely off the ground You wanna grab the 12 the 6
o’clock positions on the tire wiggle it back and forth, pushing in and out, feeling for any play when I say play you’re gonna feel some
type a movement your tires should be solid and if it moves or there’s a clicking
feeling or a like a clunk feeling, then you could
potentially have a worn-out ball joint and since then the truck lifted off the
ground you might as well check the 3 and 9 positions when you wiggle this back and fourth and play could indicate a bad tie rod bad bushings or even a bad bearing and then what you might want to do is get a
crowbar or some type of long bar go under the tire and you just want to move it up and see if there is any clicking and I feel nice clock and I’ll show you
know what’s causing it there should be there should be no upward and downward motion in a ball joint so
when you’re doing a test with the tire on you will feel this clunking. Also when you’re
driving you might even feel or hear this clunking from this moving
up and down. So I showed you how to do the wiggle test with the tire on and how to visually inspect them but
here’s how to check them when you have the ball joint off the knuckle so you can see the ball joint is very
loose not only is it loose it’s clunky so when you try and moved it back and
forth its not smooth like it should be a good ball joint will feel tight and it’ll
be smooth and as you have already seen, there is upward and downward motion so this ball joint shot the upper ball joint is even worse It has way too much play in it could be moved way too easily and it’s barely being held into place I’m glad I’m replacing these ball joints Now let’s compare the new ball joint to the old ball joint The new one is tight with no play and it’s difficult to move by hand when you move it, it feels smooth and feels solid and you have already seen the old ball joint. It’s loose and clunky. so these are the methods you can use the
test the ball joints hopefully this video was helpful If it was,give it a thumbs-up also consider subscribing I publish “how to” videos weekly and I answer all of the question
and comments you guys leave Up on the screen are three different videos if you want to see any of these videos you can click on the videos on the screen or you can find the links to these videos in the description below also in the description below are the links to the ChrisFix Facebook and Twitter pages so if you use Facebook or Twitter, go check it out!

Bernard Jenkins

58 Comments

  1. Hmmm…the main and best way to check ball joints is a pry bar under the ball joint connection itself. The wheel at 12 and 6 is more likely to reveal play in the bearing rather than play in the ball joint.

  2. They way you were wigglin that ball joint, I thought you were gonna start milkin your truck. Lol

  3. Hi Chris,
    Thanks for the video, however it is a bit too basic in my opinion….. different suspension types have different methods of checking the ball joints. Please elaborate where to Jack up the vehicle based on suspension type to relieve it from spring tension to properly check the balljoint.

  4. At .50 you Jack the truck up and then say to grab the 12 and 6 position on the tire and go back and fort, this is correct… BUT! The most important thing you forget to mention is that the suspension is under preload from suspension springs. so to correctly diagnose you need Two Jacks… one to Jack the truck up and the other Jack to take 1/2 inch to 1 inch load off of the lower control arm then the ball joints will be unloaded and you can see them act in incorrect form and bad function. Try to do that on any full size half ton much less 2500 or 3500 series you're pissing in the Wind

  5. Your ball joints can be destroyed by hitting a bad bump. It's always a good idea to check them if your car smacks a bad pothole. Not doing so can lead to a complete fail of ball joint with your wheel concaving in or out, which could cause an accident.

  6. I found this to be very useful as my car has been making such a noise…thanks a lot my guy

  7. That type of suspension needs to be pre-loaded and should have been jacked up on the control arm not the frame

  8. Thanks Brother…Glad theres un selfish helpful people like you around here…..😎

  9. If a spring or torsion rod is connected to the lower control arm you have to unload the ball joint by jacking the car up under the lower control arm. Not as simple as you showed, lots of bad ball joints will be missed if you don't properly unload them before checking for play.

  10. I have seen alot of mechanics, did alignment and balancing of wheels but still the problem is there, my 1994 pajero suv floats on road when it passes through a jump or bad road in a high speed, and I always have to slightly move/adjust the steering wheel while driving till the vehicle is moving, no matter its on smooth road or off-road

  11. Chris can you confirm this 100%

    Up down play = ball joints
    Left right = bearing or tie rod

    Is this always correct? Thank you for your videos, saved me hundreds in labour repairs!

  12. Thanks Chris you the man, people should appreciate you way more than you get credit for.

  13. I think the lower control arm has to be supported on those to properly check the ball joint. There is tension on the ball joints with it jacked up. Also a small amount of play is acceptable in the lower ball joints and in the wheel bearing as it is a spindle style.

  14. I have a question, what about a vibration while driving in front end? Driveshaft is already rebuilt, once a year.. Lift kit 4". 31-10.50's on it, 2004 Jeep Grandckeeroket. I don't know?????? I've it!

  15. To properly check a front end of a car or truck it should be at ride height.
    When you let the suspension hang it binds everything up and a loose part can feel fine because of the pressure of the suspension hanging.

  16. I had a $500 Buyer for that Truck. You went & put $350 in "Ball Joints" into it. You Ruined My Profit Margin! You Should Have left the Buyer Bring it Back "With a Noise" in it & Charged Them $1500 to fix it AFTER selling it for $500.

  17. Nothing is hard to fix as long you have the right tools!. Invest on a corldless impact gun they make any job easy.

  18. Chris I have a crv 2006 in the front there’s a sound like clunk I can’t even find where is coming from

  19. Have a 2010 Corolla s, and everytime I hit a bump or rocky road I hear a banging, is that a ball joint?

  20. Plus on a yukon non 4wd…can u just replace the upper BJ without the control arm. Or nah

  21. Good video Chris. Please consider making a video showing all the parts of a car and its importance.

  22. I thank the maker I don't have ball joints. Mine get kicked and roughed up enough as it is.

  23. Trick for replacing them, throw the new balljoints in the freezer for a few hours and they will slip into place a ton easier when you press them in! Same goes for u joints!

  24. May I suggest cribbing, or bracing the frame before sticking your fingers under the 6 O'clock position of the tire. Other than that, good straight forward video.

  25. Thanks for keeping it simple brother!Your vids,rock!Keep up the excelllent work!

  26. That was an awesome Video! My husband passed away close to 2 years now and it's been ruff to having to do things like this on my own. and I may not can fix every time but at least with great people like Chris I know pretty much what's wrong with my Jeep. Thank you so much Chris!!:-)

  27. Heads up, if u put that moog splined ball joint in. That'll be the last one in that control arm. Those splines chew the control arm. So if you try change again, it won't fit tight. Even worse in aluminum control arms.

  28. If a man isn't careful he can actually become a pretty descent DIY auto repairman with these type of videos. Much appreciation for the priceless tutorials.

  29. When you check a ball joint you need to place the jacket stand under the lower control arm and let the vehicle weight rest on the jackstands to correctly check the ball joint. At that point you put a pry bar under the tire and pry up while looking for movement. You might not be able to feel the movement but you should be able to see it if it's loose. You can use a dial indicator and actually measure the movement but usually if you can see it move its out of spec. Checking balljoints with the lower control arms hyper extended the way it is in your video is not accurate because it puts spring pressure on the ball joint itself making it appear tight. 40 year GMC / Cadillac tech here. Tested thousands of ball joints.

    Sounds like your power steering pump is noisey as well.

  30. Will the ball joints also cause a knocking sound while turning the steering wheel both directions or that could be tie rods?

  31. Yes my truck sound like people screwing in a bed lol..this will also wear out your tires too. My Sierra is in the shop now. Getting. New lower ball joints inner n outer tie rods. Wheel aligment n o2 sensor….wait till i get this bill lol

  32. This is good for woman to watch . becuse shop try ripping women off because women don't know about cars parts . Thank u for sure this my cousin took her car to the shop she had the same problem but he fixed the wrong side because she knew she would have to bring the car back and he charge her $800

  33. As a former mechanic I agree 100% with this video. Everything stated was accurate concise and to the point. Thank you Chris for another excellent tutorial.

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