BMW 3 Series vehicles are known for their top-notch performance and smooth driving, but even they have some common mechanical problems. One of these is ball joint failure, which can have a major impact on the smoothness of your drive and steering. Here’s the run-down on what a ball joint does, what signs might suggest it’s failing, and reasons why it may break down.
The Ball Joint
The ball joint is similar to the joints between the bones in your body. It connects the wheels of your car to the suspension system and allows them to move together and absorb bumps in the road. It’s essentially in charge of creating that smooth riding experience you’ve come to expect from your BMW 3 Series.
Symptoms of Ball Joint Failure
One of the most apparent symptoms of ball joint failure will be noises such as clunking or the sound of loose and rattling parts from your wheels. You’ll also notice that the ride of your 3 Series is much more rough than before, regardless of the type of road you drive on.
Other signs of a worn-out ball joint are problems with steering the car. Your steering wheel may become very stiff and hard to turn, very loose and too easily turned, or it may begin to vibrate when driving down the road. You might also notice that your car drifts to the right or the left even though you haven’t turned the steering wheel in that direction.
Finally, a less obvious but still important indication to look out for is uneven wear on your BMW’s tires. Especially if you notice that the edges of the tire tread are more worn than the rest, that could be a sign that the ball joint is failing.
Reasons Why Ball Joints Malfunction
The most common reason why ball joints eventually stop working the way they should is the same reason why any other car part may cease to function: natural wear and tear. The ball joints in a BMW 3 Series are durable. However, if you tend to stretch your car to the limits and really put its engine performance to the test, the ball joints will wear down faster and need replacement. This is because the ball joint is coated in grease to help it rotate smoothly, but over time, that grease rubs off. This can make it harder for the ball joint to do its job.
Another cause of ball joint failure is environmental factors such as extreme heat or humidity. Heat can cause the oil and grease inside the ball joints to dry up, and humidity can cause the protective seals around the ball joint to crack and allow dirt and other debris inside. This eventually clogs up the ball joint so it can no longer rotate and function the way it needs to.
A final reason why ball joints might stop working is dried seals. As we mentioned, a ball joint has protective seals around it to protect it from the weather, and no matter how careful you are about keeping your car out of the weather, the seals will eventually dry up and crack, allowing debris inside to mess up the inner workings of the joint.
Germany’s Best Inc. for Help
Ball joints, though small and easily overlooked, are vital components of your car’s suspension system. Letting a faulty ball joint go unreplaced for too long can cause your suspension system to fall apart as you’re driving down the road, making you lose control of the vehicle. That’s an extremely dangerous situation to put yourself in. This is why it’s so important to get your vehicle inspected by an experienced mechanic as soon as you notice any of the symptoms above.
If you live in or near Berkeley, Emeryville, Piedmont, or Oakland, California, the technicians here at Germany’s Best Inc. are happy to provide the service your car needs. We’ve been in the business of giving exceptional customer service to owners of top-of-the-line German cars for over 25 years, and we’d love to earn your repeat business. Feel free to visit us in-store or call to learn more.