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How to Avoid Steering Knuckle Damage Due to Overtightening

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Ball Joint Installation Tip

A key part of a car's suspension system, the steering knuckle is susceptible to damage due to overtightening the ball joint. Read on to learn how to identify the damage that is caused when a ball joint is overtightened and discover an important tip for avoiding steering knuckle damage when installing MOOG ball joints.

Identifying Steering Knuckle Damage

To know if the ball joint is overtightened, it is helpful to know the characteristics of a ball joint installed in an undamaged steering knuckle. The ball joint fits snug in the knuckle with no movement.

Ball joint in an undamaged steering knuckle.

Ball joint in an undamaged steering knuckle. Notice the placement of the yellow ring – it sits above the knuckle.

In a damaged steering knuckle, the ball joint sits further down in the steering knuckle. In addition, the ball joint has a lot of movement and play which over time could cause more damage to the hole or could break the stud.

Ball joint in a damaged steering knuckle.

Ball joint in a damaged steering knuckle. Notice the placement of the yellow ring – it sits further down in the knuckle.

Another consequence of overtightening is that the castle nut on the ball joint ends up going past the hole for the cotter pin. When the nut goes past the hole, the cotter pin won’t fit. Many installers think they need washers to correct the issue. Washers aren’t meant to get the castle nut back up to the proper position. The taper has become damaged and the steering knuckle has to be replaced.

Ball joint with castle nut going past cotter pin hole.

Ball joint with castle nut going past cotter pin hole.

Avoid Overtightening – Use the Right Tool

Torque wrench resting across a work glove with a flashlight and socket in the background.

When installing MOOG ball joints, it is important to avoid overtightening. The best way to avoid overtightening is to use the right tool for the job. Many technicians use an impact gun when installing ball joints, which not only overtightens the ball joint but can also cause premature wear and damage to the steering knuckle. MOOG recommends using a torque wrench when installing ball joints. This advice also holds true for installing tie rods. Overtightening when installing a tie rod can also result in steering knuckle damage.

Learn more about premium steering and suspension parts, find your car part, or find where to buy your auto part today.

The content contained in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be used in lieu of seeking professional advice from a certified technician or mechanic. We encourage you to consult with a certified technician or mechanic if you have specific questions or concerns relating to any of the topics covered herein. Under no circumstances will we be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on any content.

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