Reasons Behind Ball Joint Failure in Your BMW 3 Series
Posted on May 20, 2020 by Carson Wileman
The BMW 3 Series has spent the last 40 years building a name for itself as one of the most popular sports sedans on the market, largely due to its superior performance standards and sleek, head-turning design. However, just like every other vehicle prowling the roads today, there will come a time when an issue or two may crop up that requires a mechanic to address. One such potential issue is the failure of the ball joints.
Function of the Ball Joints
Ball joints are part of your car’s suspension system. They function as the “bridge” between all the moving and static pieces of your suspension system, allowing you to control and steer the vehicle safely and with minimal effort.
Ball joints look and function similarly to a human’s hip joint. The ball joint of your BMW 3 Series is critical in providing the precise control and smooth ride drivers have come to expect from the brand. When ball joints go bad, it is possible to replace them yourself with the proper (expensive) equipment and training. However, the best course of action for drivers who suspect they may have busted ball joints is to have them examined and replaced by a certified mechanic to ensure ultimate success and safety.
The Signs of a Broken Ball Joint
Ball joint failure will severely impede the performance of your BMW, exhibiting symptoms such as:
- Sudden jolts or inconsistencies in maneuvering, such as difficulty keeping your wheels aligned in the same direction.
- Noises and vibrations from the front of the vehicle, especially when turning or navigating rough or unpaved roads. These may manifest as loud screeches or heavy clunks or a combination of the two.
- Your steering wheel jerks off to one side if you remove your hands from the wheel, even for a second. As this is one of the more dangerous symptoms of broken ball joints, it’s important to have this symptom checked out by a certified mechanic as soon as it starts.
Common Causes of Broken Ball Joints
Wear and tear over time are natural causes of ball joint failure, especially in those vehicles with more miles or a history of being off-roaded. The grease that coats the ball joint and provides it with the smooth traction needed rubs off naturally, which will eventually cause damage to the ball joint itself. This makes rotating the joint in any direction difficult, which translates to difficult steering.
Dried seals are another natural cause of ball joint failure. The ball joint itself is encased in a set of seals to protect it from the elements. As these seals crack through the years, oil and dirt can enter the system and gunk up the works. This will directly impact the car’s ability to steer.
Environmental factors are the other kind of natural cause of ball joint failure. Vehicles kept outside for extended periods of time will experience various effects of weather on the ball joints. Cars subjected to rainy weather or consistently high humidity may experience ball joints that begin to crack and even break over time. Hot weather will dry out the oil within the ball joints, which creates debris that can affect the performance of your ball joints.
Pushing your vehicle’s limits is another way some drivers have found themselves with failing ball joints. While there is a thrill to be had in sudden acceleration or speeding through the mud and over mountains, this is especially hard on your suspension system, most of all on the extremely mobile and critical components, such as your ball joints, which take the brunt of the force.
Keith Cox Autobahn Can Help
If you suspect your BMW 3 Series is experiencing any of these signs of broken ball joints, bring it in to Keith Cox Autobahn of Bellingham, WA. Keith Cox Autobahn is here to aid and assist all BMW owners throughout the Bellingham area with quality service and repairs without breaking the bank at a dealership. We provide loaners upon availability, a free shuttle, and a 3-year/36,000-mile warranty to all customers to ensure you can safely continue on your drive. Call us today to set up an appointment at your convenience, or stop by to talk to one of our friendly technicians.