Ball joints are a crucial part of a car’s suspension. They’re attached to the steering knuckle or spindle, sometimes one at the top, as well as one at the bottom, and allow all the different directions of movement needed in those locations. If a ball joint breaks, that’s a big problem.
A ball joint could break in an accident, or just from wearing out. Sometimes if they’re getting old they’ll start making noise, or if you have the car up in the air you can check if they’re getting loose. If a car is at or over 200,000 miles it’s a good idea to replace them, otherwise this could happen. The lower ball joint broke on this car while it was being driven. As you can see from the picture, that shoved the wheel sideways and back, making the car undriveable.
When a ball joint breaks, it causes a lot more damage. Usually, when the wheel moves back, it pulls the CV joints apart on the axle, and can also rip out the brake hose and wheel speed sensor wire. Depending on how fast the car is moving when it breaks, it can also put a big dent in the fender. This car was going slow enough that the fender didn’t get damaged very much.
After I pushed this car into the shop with a floor jack under the left front suspension I replaced all the broken parts, and have a nice souvenir.
Mechanical Malarkey T-shirts, hats, and stickers are available to order!