It Is Important to Replace Ball Joint Boots
Possibly even more than the engine, it is the front suspension of the car that takes the most punishment; hence the most wear and tear. While it is true that an engine is asked to rotate at very high RPMs, metallurgy and technology have come together to makes these engines last for hundreds of thousands of kilometres with proper maintenance.
On the other hand, front suspension components have to resist deflections in the upward/downward and sideward planes while keeping the tire contact on the road as the suspension engineers designed. One of the most stressed suspension component in the suspension is the ball joint.
There were no replacement joint boots available on the market. Even if ball joints then had grease fittings to allow fresh grease to pump into the ball and socket fitting, there was no option to replace joint boots and you would have to replace the ball joints when the boots got torn.Even with fresh grease, torn boots would allow grit and other components to get into the joint assembly and the abrasive paste that resulted would destroy the ball joints shortly afterward.
The ball joints are high-strength steel units that act as the pivot point between the suspension and the vehicle’s tires. Aside from supporting the vehicle’s weight, these suspension joints help keep the tire located when the vehicle is steered and as the suspension moves up and down its arc of travel.
These suspension components are usually non serviceable parts, with the sometimes very expensive joints being protected by just a thin rubber boot the thickness of an inner tube. Obviously, this can be easily cracked or torn through accident or carelessness when other components of the brakes or suspension are serviced. When this happens, your ball joints are on the fast track to replacement unless you replace your boots.
Nowadays, an owner can replace ball joint boots but the sealed construction of tie rod ends and ball and socket joints mean that when the grease packing these joints dry out, faster wear results and you have to replace the joints sooner rather than later. It would be great if you could find replacement ball joints with grease fittings.
Replacement boots are plentiful nowadays, and alternative materials like urethane are being used to ensure added protection and longer service life. They resist damage from rocks, road salt, sand and water better than most rubber boots. If possible, look for replacement boots that have a thin spring around the base of the boot. This helps seal the boot around the joint assembly.
This would allow you to regularly freshen the grease in the joints, prolonging the service life of the part. If you decide to replace ball joint boots yourself, it’s best to use a tool called a tie rod lifter to separate the joint from the linkage.Thoroughly remove any grit that may have entered the ball joint through the torn boot before you put in the new one. Normally, there is no need to realign the car when you replace ball joint boots.