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#1098014 - 03/03/08 02:04 PM How to Check A Ball Joint
parimento1 Offline


Registered: 09/02/07
Posts: 750
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
I am getting a clunking noise from the left side of my suspension, I suspect it is from the ball joint, how do I check the ball joint to see if it is failing?

thanks

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#1098071 - 03/03/08 03:35 PM Re: How to Check A Ball Joint [Re: parimento1]
Quest Offline


Registered: 12/19/04
Posts: 6260
Loc: beaver land EH?
what vehicle is it?
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#1098091 - 03/03/08 04:16 PM Re: How to Check A Ball Joint [Re: Quest]
RayRice Offline


Registered: 02/04/08
Posts: 3
Loc: CA, USA
Jack up the front end. Use jack stands also to keep it safe.
Grasping the top and bottom of each wheel, pull on the bottom and push on the top to feel for play. Then pull on the top while pushing on the bottom. You are rocking from the side of the vehicle to the center of it to test for clearance between the ball and the socket. You really need to but your back into it. If you feel ANY play you have a bad ball joint or the it may be loose wheel bearings (but you may be able to 'feel' where the clearance is). Replace both sides even if only one side feels loose.
Shade-tree style is to try to rock the top of the tire while it on the ground but that can only test the top ball joint.

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#1098109 - 03/03/08 04:42 PM Re: How to Check A Ball Joint [Re: RayRice]
parimento1 Offline


Registered: 09/02/07
Posts: 750
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
oh sorry, this is for a 97 Toyota Avalon with a strut type suspension, I think there is only 1 ball joint


Edited by parimento1 (03/03/08 04:45 PM)

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#1098224 - 03/03/08 08:05 PM Re: How to Check A Ball Joint [Re: parimento1]
Jimmy9190 Online   content


Registered: 02/17/07
Posts: 2964
Loc: Clermont, Florida
When the ball joints go bad, you will often hear a hard "clunk " noise when making left and right turns. You might have a sway bar or stabilizer bar bushing going bad also, or if your car has links from the sway bar down to the A arm you can check those bushings too. That would be more present when going straight over a significant bump like a speed breaker. Sorry, I am not real familiar with front wheel drive suspensions..
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#1098336 - 03/03/08 10:03 PM Re: How to Check A Ball Joint [Re: Jimmy9190]
alreadygone Offline


Registered: 01/04/06
Posts: 3161
Loc: North Arkansas
For strut suspension with lower [censored] only I prefer to jack up, then take prybar and try to pry joint apart, and push it together. sometimes a really LARGE pair of slipjoint pliers can be used to try and compress ball and socket. ANY play found like this will probably cause noise.

Bob
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#1098344 - 03/03/08 10:13 PM Re: How to Check A Ball Joint [Re: alreadygone]
parimento1 Offline


Registered: 09/02/07
Posts: 750
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
that rings a bell actually, I've seen my mechanic test the ball joint with a pry bar before. I dont have access to a pry bar so I'll test it by pulling at 12 and 6. It is a clunk like something is loose, and u can feel it up through the floor over small to moderate bumps. I had a sway bar bushing that was bad in the rear and it made a different sound, but I will knock the sway bar with my fist and check if the noise is the same. the front suspension doesnt not have end-links so that makes it easier to narrow it down. I guess it could also be a bad wheel bearing. The car has been making a noticeable hum at highway speed that was not there before...although there is no rumbling or loud howl as is usually the case. Regardless I'll check for play. thanks for the help so far.

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#1098605 - 03/04/08 11:39 AM Re: How to Check A Ball Joint [Re: parimento1]
mechtech2 Offline


Registered: 09/05/06
Posts: 19479
Loc: Chicago Area
FWD or RWD?
You check them differently.
FWD: Jack the car to get the wheel off of the ground. Shake the tire/wheel assembly, or pry it around while you check the ball joint.
RWD: Jack the wheel up on the bottom of the ball joint on the A arm, and then pry it around with a large prybar or screwdriver.

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#1098820 - 03/04/08 05:05 PM Re: How to Check A Ball Joint [Re: mechtech2]
eljefino Online   content


Registered: 06/15/03
Posts: 23502
Loc: ME
Get a helper and with the engine off and the tires on the ground stick your head under the front end and have them rock the steering wheel back and forth. Feel the ball joint or steering knuckle as you do this; the vibrations will be easier to pinpoint than the noise maybe.

Best to just move the steering wheel 4 inches or so to stay just outside the realm of play.

Sometimes you'll get a ball joint that's tight when on the air b/c there's fresh/tight metal touching from the unusual suspension angle; doing it at ride height can expose a bad joint that feels good in the air.

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#1098982 - 03/04/08 08:35 PM Re: How to Check A Ball Joint [Re: eljefino]
parimento1 Offline


Registered: 09/02/07
Posts: 750
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
I put the car on a floor jack and lifted the wheel off the ground. I pulled and pushed at 12 and 6 o'clock, but felt no play and no noise, I even kicked it a few times...nothing. It continues to clunk. The strut mounts are good, and besides the noise is lower to the floor. Ill try checking the ball joint on the ground, as well as the wheel bearing and sway bar bushings. Only thing I'm not sure of is how to check for excessive play in the wheel bearing, b/c it does make a him at highway speeds.

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#1099128 - 03/05/08 01:03 AM Re: How to Check A Ball Joint [Re: parimento1]
cha41ppy Offline


Registered: 01/09/08
Posts: 7
Loc: mass
I have a similar vehicle in my 99 ES300 and these cars are known for their clunking. First culprit is usually strut mounts, second is sway bar bushings. How are you sure the strut mounts are good? Have they been replaced recently? An easy way to check for the strut mounts (this confirmed it for me) is to spray silicone lubricant on the outside of the mount in between the rubber and the outer metal hole. Spray slowly and give time to trickle down. Repeat it numerous times. If the sound goes away it's your strut mounts. There's no other true way to check them other than pulling out the strut assembly itself. For the sway, or stabilizer, bar bushings, reach in and pull on the sway bar to check for any kind of give. If it moves at all then they need to be replaced. Even if there is no movement with your pull, sometimes they are still bad. They are fairly cheap anyways at 10 bucks or less per bushing, so it's good insurance to replace them anyways if they haven't, and it's cheap and easy troubleshooting.
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#1099314 - 03/05/08 10:31 AM Re: How to Check A Ball Joint [Re: parimento1]
mechtech2 Offline


Registered: 09/05/06
Posts: 19479
Loc: Chicago Area
Wiggling the steering wheel back and forth with the tires on the ground is great for checking tie rod ends, but it won't work for ball joints unless they are ridiculously bad, and you are lucky also.

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#1099759 - 03/05/08 11:05 PM Re: How to Check A Ball Joint [Re: mechtech2]
Aldaris Offline


Registered: 11/29/06
Posts: 1174
Loc: United States
It's your strut mounts, not the ball joints. I know.
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