Ball joints must be replace if any looseness is detected in the joint or if the ball joint seal is cut.
To inspect ball joints, raise and support the vehicle safely. Grasp the top and bottom of the tire and move the top of the tire with an in-and-out motion. Observe for any horizontal movement of the steering knuckle relative to the control arm.
If the ball joint is disconnected from the knuckle and any looseness is detected, or if the ball joint can be twisted in its socket using finger pressure, replace the ball joint.
Ball joint tightness in the knuckle boss should also be checked when inspecting the ball joint. This may be done by shaking the wheel and feeling for movement of the stud end or castle nut at the knuckle boss. Checking the fastener torque at the castle nut is an alternative method of inspecting for wear. A loose nut can indicate a bend stud in the knuckle boss. Worn or damaged ball joints and knuckles must be replaced.
REMOVAL & INSTALLATION
The lower ball joint is an integral part of the lower control arm. Therefore, if ball joint replacement is necessary, the lower control arm must be replaced as an assembly.