There are two ways to check ball joints, depending on the type of four-wheel drive vehicle you own. Solid axle, four-wheel drive ball joints distribute the load of the weight of the vehicle equally and are checked both radially and laterally. Independent suspension, four-wheel drive vehicles have upper and lower ball joints which are either load bearing or follower types; one is checked radially while the other is checked laterally. Both checks can be completed in just a few minutes in the driveway.
Things You'll Need
- Wheel chocks
- Floor jack
- Jack stands
- Pry bar
Place wheel chocks behind the rear wheels. Apply the parking brake and raise one front wheel off the ground with a floor jack. Place a jack stand under the axle or lower control arm for safety.
Check the upper follower type ball joint by grasping the top of the wheel to push and pull it while observing the upper ball joint. Any perceptible radial movement in the ball joint requires replacement according to industry standards.
Position a pry bar under the tire and pry the wheel and tire up while observing lateral (up and down) movement of the ball joint. Any perceptible movement requires replacement of the ball joint per industry standards.
Lower the wheel to the ground. Repeat the tests for the other side of the vehicle.
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