In an automobile, ball joints are spherical bearings that connect the control arms to the steering knuckles. They are used on virtually every automobile made and work similarly to the ball-and-socket design of the human hip joint
A ball joint consists of a bearing stud and socket enclosed in a casing; all these parts are made of steel. The bearing stud is tapered and threaded, and fits into a tapered hole in the steering knuckle. A protective encasing prevents dirt from getting into the joint assembly. Usually, this is a rubber-like boot that allows movement and expansion of lubricant. Motion-control ball joints tend to be retained with an internal spring, which helps to prevent vibration problems in the linkage.
The "offset" ball joint provides means of movement in systems where thermal expansion and contraction, shock, seismic motion, and torsional motions, and forces are present.
On modern vehicles, ball joints are the pivot between the wheels and the suspension of an automobile. They are today almost universally used in the front suspension, having replaced the kingpin/linkpin or kingpin/trunnion arrangement, but can also be found in the rear suspension of a few higher-performance autos. Ball joints play a critical role in the safe operation of an automobile's steering and suspension
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