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The Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation

First Line Ltd. issues guidance on ball joint servicing and replacement

Date: Thursday 27 April 2023

Aftermarket supplier First Line Ltd. has issued guidance to technicians on replacing ball joints, a safety-critical component in a vehicle’s suspension, with tips on maximising efficiency on labour time and cost.

As many technicians will be aware, ball joints can fail as they are subjected to significant stresses over their lifespan. These parts resemble a pivot like a human hip or shoulder, made up of a bearing stud and socket that fit inside a casing, connecting the suspension control arm to the steering knuckles. Ball joints can be mounted to the control arm in three different ways: pressed in, clipped, or bolted.

“With pressed in ball joints, it may be more cost effective to replace the whole arm when considering the cost of time to complete the job. This is because, like commercial vehicle applications, sometimes it can be cheaper overall and more time efficient to replace the arm and associated ball joints than individual replacement of parts due to the associated labour costs,” says Kevin Neaverson, Global Sales Director at First Line Ltd.

Symptoms of a worn ball joint include clunky, knocking noises when the car is driven, particularly on bumpy surfaces. When the suspension moves, a worn ball joint can make squeaky noises, and in some scenarios, drivers may experience vague steering, or the car drifting to one side. A catastrophic failure of a ball joint could, in rare cases, cause a wheel to fall off the car during movement, so it’s imperative that these parts are checked, urges First Line Ltd.

The company advises that if a car presents these issues, then technicians should meticulously check all steering and suspension components, including the ball joints. Once new ball joints are ready to be installed, technicians should inspect the wishbone mounts as any damage or fatigue can affect the performance and longevity of the new parts.

Sometimes, ball joints may be integrated with the steering arm, which would require replacement of the entire arm. Pressed in joints will require a hydraulic press for removal.

Before removing the old joint, First Line Ltd. recommends loosening and removing the mounting bolts using penetrating fluid if required. The ball joint can be levered out of location once the pinch bolt clamping the ball joint pin is removed.

Technicians can then fit the new ball joint to the suspension arm, using new fixings torqued to the manufacturer’s specifications. They should then secure the new ball joint pin into the steering knuckle with a new bolt and locking nut, again tightening to the correct torque.

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For more information about the premium quality products available from First Line Ltd. speak to the sales team on: 01869 248484 or visit: