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How can you tell if ball joints are bad?

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Old 08-31-2010, 05:37 AM
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Default How can you tell if ball joints are bad?

How do you inspect ball joints? what will you see or feel if they are bad other than some steering wobble?

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Old 08-31-2010, 05:41 AM
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jack up your front axle taking the weight off your tire. grab the tire at the top and bottom, and push it in and out. it there is any movement in or out top or bottom, the ball joint is bad.
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Old 08-31-2010, 05:53 AM
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Default Re: How can you tell if ball joints are bad?

U also while jacked up take a pry bar or some sort of bar and stick it under the tire and pull up. Mine were bad this way and were tight the way previous poster said. U check that way also.

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Old 08-31-2010, 06:03 AM
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Here is the whole story:


Radial (side-to-side) movement in the upper ball joint should not exceed 0.060" (1.5mm).

Axial (up and down) movement in the lower ball joint should not exceed 0.050" (1.25mm).

This is how to check:

A dial indicator is the best instrument to measure ball joint play.

Jack the front tire off the ground.
Place a jack stand under the axle next to the jack.
Lower to put some weight on the jack stand.
Place a long pry bar under the tire.
Have someone pry the tire up and down while you watch the lower ball joint for up and down play.
Axial (up and down) movement in the lower ball joint should not exceed 0.050"

Have someone grab the tire at top and bottom to wiggle the top in and out while you watch the upper joint for side play.
Radial (side-to-side) movement in the upper ball joint should not exceed 0.060"

Even if the upper joint checks good, change both if the lower checks bad.

Last edited by ronjenx; 08-31-2010 at 06:20 AM.
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Old 08-31-2010, 09:13 AM
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Haha, i have never seen a shop use a dial gauge. I will say it like they told us in class. If it moves enough to be seen. Then replace it. It is better to replace in pairs not just the single one. The reason being you have just beat and togged on both removeing the hub. An what i mean being seen is that you can visual see play. 1.5mm is about the thickness of your key and you should not be able to see that.
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Old 08-31-2010, 11:09 AM
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Originally Posted by 98jeepboy View Post
Haha, i have never seen a shop use a dial gauge. I will say it like they told us in class. If it moves enough to be seen. Then replace it. It is better to replace in pairs not just the single one. The reason being you have just beat and togged on both removeing the hub. An what i mean being seen is that you can visual see play. 1.5mm is about the thickness of your key and you should not be able to see that.
1.5 mm (0.059") is quite a bit.
My lowers are at 0.51mm (0.020") and the axial movement is plainly visible.
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Old 09-02-2010, 01:34 PM
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Originally Posted by rinkishJK View Post
U also while jacked up take a pry bar or some sort of bar and stick it under the tire and pull up. Mine were bad this way and were tight the way previous poster said. U check that way also.

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yeah, what he said. if it's bad enuf to move by hand like i said, it's really bad. a pry bar would give you a more exact guesstimation. i just don't have a long pry bar
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