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My mechanic says my car needs ball joints. Please explain.

By Tony Russel

Fri, Dec 28th, 2012
Posted in All Ask the Expert

Ball joints are a part of your vehicle’s suspension that connects the steering knuckles to the control arms. A ball joint is essentially a flexible ball and socket that allows the suspension to move and at the same time the wheels to steer. Cars and trucks without strut suspensions typically have four of them (one upper and one lower on each side). Cars and minivans with strut suspensions have only two (one lower ball joint on each side). Some front-wheel drive cars also have ball joints on the rear suspension.

Like any other suspension component, ball joints eventually wear and become loose. Excessive play in the joint can affect wheel alignment and the wear. Loose joints can also cause suspension noise (typically a ‘clunking’ sound when hitting a bump).

WARNING: If a ball joint fails, the suspension can collapse causing a loss of control. So don’t put off having a bad set of joints replaced.

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