Many vehicle components like the exhaust and engine work like some body parts. The exhaust acts like the lungs while the engine acts much like the heart. One car component that isn’t as well known as the engine or exhaust but acts just like a hip is the ball joint. Made of a socket and a ball, this part both looks and works much like a hip.
Ball joints are a part of the suspension system and are found at the front two wheels. A ball joint is there to help provide up and down movement for the wheels which allows for a smoother ride especially when going over bumps. Ball joints also connect various links together which makes them a crucial suspension component.
In a hurry? Check out our top 3 picks that we highly recommend!
|Image Preview||Product Name||Quick Links to Amazon|
|MOOG K80026||Check Price On Amazon|
|TeraFlex 3442002||Check Price On Amazon|
|Detroit Axle 4WD||Check Price On Amazon|
What Are the Symptoms of a Bad Ball Joint?
A bad ball joint is easy to recognize. If you notice any of the following symptoms such as loose or shaky steering, uneven tire wear, vehicle drifting to one side, or squeaky noises then you probably have a bad ball joint or joints.
Can You Drive with a Bad Ball Joint?
While you should never drive with a bad ball joint or joints (which is worse) you can still technically be able to drive your vehicle. This comes at a great risk though as continuing to drive your car with a bad ball joint/ joints can easily make you lose control over your vehicle.
Best Ball Joints
1. MOOG K80026
MOOG steering and suspension are known as being the best ball joint brand. This is because they make tried and true ball joints and the K80026 is one of those products. These are some of the best ball joints since they are strong and durable. This is because these ball joints are heat treated and they come with a greasable socket. The metal-to-metal design of the K80026 allows the grease to flow through the bearing surface which helps extend its lifespan.
2. ACDelco Advantage 46D0103A
If you want to go for OEM parts but don’t want to go through the hassle of visiting a dealership then go with ACDelco products. Just like any of their wide range of car parts, their 46D0103A advantage ball joint assembly is quite a durable product. This is thanks to its forged housing, corrosion-resistant coating, and ISO 9001 certification.
3. MOOG K90259
Another ball joint from MOOG that deserves big-time credit for its engineering excellence is the K90259. This serviceable ball joint is made to match OE requirements and even exceed them in certain situations thanks to its greasable socket and smooth exterior.
4. Toyota Genuine Ball Joint Assembly (43330-39585)
If you’re a Toyota owner there’s a ball joint assembly that you don’t want to overlook. While this ball joint doesn’t have the catchiest name it is quality assured by Toyota. The precise design and fit of this ball joint assembly make it a perfect choice for many Toyota vehicles, you just have to check if it’s compatible with yours.
5. TeraFlex 3442002
The 3442002 ball joint kit is one of TeraFlex’s most comprehensive products. You get everything you need with 4 ball joints that are adjustable, graspable, and made with 4140 chrome-moly.
6. Detroit Axle 4WD Front Upper & Lower Ball Joints
One of the best ball joints for 4×4 vehicles I’ve ever come across are these lower ball joints from Detroit Axle. Your vehicle will feel different after installing these ball joints. They come with a 10-year warranty and they sure do last a long time.
7. Motorcraft MCSOE7
Although Motorcraft may not be as popular as some of these other brands, the company is able to offer some great products. This includes their MCSOE7 ball joint. While it weighs only 1.2 pounds it is highly rated on Amazon despite coming from China – a country usually known for making cheap and low-performance products. This is not the case with the MCSOE7 though.
8. Alloy USA 11800
If you want a ball joint kit with an exclusive threaded preload system then you should consider the 11800 from Alloy USA. This kit provides you with all the needed hardware and low-profile Zero fittings too. You get an increase in strength with these ball joints thanks to their steel exterior.
What to Consider Before Choosing the Best Replacement Ball Joint for My Car? – Buyer’s Guide
First of all, before you consider any other factor when buying ball joints you need to ensure that they are going to be compatible with your vehicle’s suspension system. Every vehicle has a different design for its suspension system. You need to know the exact make and model of your vehicle to find out which type of ball joints you need to get.
If you want your ball joints to last and you definitely want that, then you should go for ball joints with high-resistance coatings. These coatings help protect from corrosion and also increase wear resistance. It’s a great addition if your new ball joints are able to withstand high temperatures too.
Material & Design
The material a ball joint is made of and the way it’s designed greatly impacts their performance and durability. The best aftermarket ball joints as well as the best ball joints for 4×4 vehicles are going to be made from materials such as hardened metal or sintered metal. The design of the internal components needs to be of great quality too so make sure to avoid ball joints that make use of internal plastic parts.
Sealed or Serviceable
You have two types of ball joints you can choose from when it comes to their repairability. Sealed ball joints are pre-lubricated and you can’t put grease in them when you hear them making weird noises. Serviceable ball joints, on the other hand, can be taken apart and filled with grease so that they last longer. Some say these are the best ball joints. You have to remember though that the former requires less maintenance than the latter.
Load or Non-load Carrying Ball Joint
Non-load Carrying Ball Joint
This kind of ball joint carries no weight as it’s intended to assist or follow the load-bearing ball joint. As a result, it is subjected to less stress which in turn makes it sustain less damage. Non-load carrying ball joints are commonly seen on upper control arm suspensions supporting the lower arm ball joint.
Load Carrying Ball joint
A load-bearing ball joint is intended to carry the car’s load while also serving as a pivot point for the steering mechanism. The majority of load-bearing ball joints are intended to balance out the effects of natural wear by aligning themselves in their own sockets.
This is not something new but I feel there is a need to be mentioned – the BRAND! There are various ball joint brands to choose from, but only a couple are at the top and their pricing already speaks for their level of quality.
We have compiled a list of the best ball joint brands in a way that you can choose from the very best on the market. This list, though, also gives you a glimpse of the less reputable and costly ball joint brands so that you can decide which one suits your needs best.
How Long Can I Drive with Bad Ball Joints?
It’s best that you avoid driving your vehicle with a bad ball joint but technically speaking you can drive anywhere from 70,000 to 150,000 miles with solid ball joints. But that is if a ball joint hasn’t completely gone off the rails, which you can’t really know if you don’t bring your vehicle to a mechanic. Then again, you’re better off just replacing the ball joint while you’re at an auto repair shop.
What Happens If a Ball Joint Goes Out While Driving?
Driving on a bad ball joint as you know can cause an accident, which happens due to the ball joint completely breaking. In this case, your wheels or wheel will turn outwards as it will be free to move.
Should You Replace All Ball Joints at Once?
This is determined by a variety of things. Obviously, replacing both of them on both wheels at the same time would be ideal in order to improve performance, but this has financial consequences. However, you might require four as it differs from car to car. This increases the cost significantly.
Our strong recommendation is to replace them all at once, and you might ask why?
If you simply change single ball joint, the other one will most certainly wear out quickly, and the replacement will demand another wheel alignment service, which will result in greater long-term maintenance expenses.
Just like any component in your vehicle, ball joints are there to make things happen. While ball joints don’t affect any major systems in your vehicle, they can affect fundamental tasks such as your handling, the smoothness of your ride, and comfort levels.
If you take care of your ball joints they will take care of your vehicle, it’s as simple as that.