You May Face Problems After Changing Ball Joints

Driving on bad ball joints is not encouraged, and one needs to be careful when changing ball joints. You may encounter problems after changing ball joints if the new ball joints are improperly installed or aligned.

Your steering ability can be negatively impacted, and you will lose significant control of your car.

In this article, we’ll explore some common problems drivers face after changing ball joints in their cars.

can new ball joints be bad

Common Problems after Changing Ball Joints

Most problems you experience after changing ball joints result from a bad or improper alignment. Some of these problems are similar to what happens if a ball joint breaks while driving.

Below are some common problems after changing ball joints:

Loose and steering

If a new ball joint is not well aligned, you may experience loose or shaky steering. It is caused by the new ball joint’s inability to pivot movement between the wheels and the suspension properly.

You may notice your steering drifting off the center to the left or the right.

Most drivers with this problem experience difficulty when taking turns. They would often find themselves having to adjust their steering every few minutes.

Drive into an automobile repair shop to recheck the ball joint alignments. This step can easily avoid a ball joint failure on the highway.

Stiff steering

Some ball joints have specific instructions on how each side should face the vehicle. If this alignment setting is not followed, you may experience steering tight after ball joint replacement.

Here, an extra force would need to be exerted for the car to turn. Quick maneuvers would become more difficult to handle, and you may be unable to maintain road speeds.

Driving with stiff steering is a recipe for disaster. While on the road, your vehicle becomes a road hazard, and you are always one drive away from an accident.

If you experience difficulty with steering, get your car checked immediately.

The steering wheel doesn’t return to the center after turning left or right.

Drivers may notice that the steering wheel does not return fully to the center after changing their ball joints.

The ball joint must move freely for the steering wheel to always return to the center. However, when the ball joint is not properly greased before installation, it affects its movement. This lack of lubrication of the ball joints also contributes to what causes ball joints to go bad over time.

You can quickly solve this issue by greasing the upper and lower ball joints.

Other related problem

Some other related problems you may encounter after changing ball joints include; clunking or squeaking noise, frequent vibrations and shakiness, tire wear, and less responsive steering.

does replacing ball joints affect alignment

How do you minimize the problems after changing ball joints?

Proper alignment of the ball joints

Always ensure that your ball joints are properly aligned with your vehicle. By now, you should know that an improper alignment comes with different steering and suspension issues.

If you can’t guarantee proper alignment yourself, seek professional installation. As a rule of thumb, always ensure the professional you give your car to is well-experienced and has all the necessary tools.

Keep Ball joints well lubricated.

The ball joints should be well lubricated when installing the new ball joints. It helps with the smooth movement of the ball joints and proper wheels and suspension movements. It also reduces friction and wear in the ball joints.

Purchase quality ball joints.

Can new ball joints be bad? Definitely! The importance of using quality ball joints cannot be overstated. They give drivers quality durability and improved performance on the road. Conversely, buying cheap or substandard ball joints would come at the expense /risk of premature failure.

Any ball joints you use should be of the best quality from reputable manufacturers.

Also read: What are The Best Ball Joint Brands For Your Car?

How do you test a new ball joint?

If you suspect a problem with the new ball joints in your vehicle, follow these steps to be more certain :

Check for any abnormal noise when driving

Abnormal noise is a textbook process on how to tell if ball joints are bad while driving.

When driving, keep an ear out for any abnormal sound.

Clunking and squeaking noises underneath your car often indicate an issue in the ball joints. 

Park your car and check for wear.

When your car is parked, reach under the vehicle and visually inspect the ball joint.

You are looking for any visible signs of wear and cracks. Further, check if the joint is securely attached and properly aligned. In addition, you can check for signs of leaks below the ball joints. 

Inspecting the ball joints can help you determine whether both should be replaced or just one side should be replaced.

Check the steering and suspension

You will need a jack and a jack stand for this test.

First, you must jack your car’s front and put the stands in place. Next, reach under the vehicle and locate the wheels. Try and turn the wheels vertically with your hand. If you notice excessive play in the joint or hear a clunking sound while doing so, you have a faulty ball joint on your hands.

If you encounter any difficulty with this step, you can consult your manual on how to check ball joints and tie rods.


Do I need an alignment after replacing the ball joints?

Yes, you will need an alignment after replacing the ball joints. Several steering-related issues will develop if your new ball joints do not have a  proper alignment.

Can new ball joints cause stiff steering?

Technically your new ball joints can cause stiff steering.  It would happen if the new ball joints were improperly installed or not well lubricated.

What are the symptoms of ungreased ball joints?

If you drive with ungreased ball joints, you may experience symptoms such as :

  • Vibrations
  • Accelerated wear and tear
  • Unusual squeaking and creaking noises
  • Less steering responsiveness etc.

Regular greasing is necessary to keep ball joints working at optimal performance.

Can you over-tighten ball joints?

Yes, it is possible to over-tighten ball joints. If the ball joint is not tightened enough, the ball joint keeps spinning, and if it is over-tightened, it can get stuck.

Always consult the manufacturer’s specifications and torque values during installation to prevent this from happening.

Can ball joints affect alignment?

Can ball joints affect alignment, or does replacing ball joints affect alignment?

Yes! Ball joints can affect alignments. It is normally caused by looseness and wear in the ball joints. This looseness of the ball joint can easily cause changes in the suspension geometry (misalignment).

How long do new ball joints last?

How long the new ball joints of your vehicle will last depends on how you drive it. The normal lifespan of these ball joints is usually between 70,000 and 150,000 miles.

This usually determines how often should ball joints be replaced.

If you take on adventurous sports like drifting, expect the ball joint to wear quicker than normal.

Regular maintenance can help with improving the lifespan of the ball joints. It would always prevent you from asking, “why do my ball joints keep going bad?”

Final Words

You do not need to wait for too long before you carry out maintenance. It doesn’t matter whether or not the ball joints have been recently attached.

Ensure that you follow the recommended maintenance schedule contained in your manual.

If you notice any sign, damage, or looseness in the ball joints, address them promptly to prevent further issues from developing.

Akindayini Temiloluwa

I am passionate about everything automotive. Right from when I got my first toy car as a kid, I developed an interest in the inner workings of vehicles. As I grew up, my love for mechanical stuff became more substantial enough for me to pursue a career in it. My goal as an automotive content writer is to simplify the most challenging concepts for my readers, help them self-diagnose what may be wrong with their vehicles and offer real value for their time.

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