Front end maintenance repair.
Performing a front end repair on your car or truck is always tricky due to the complexity of the hardware and the know-how required. It’s especially daunting to novices that are only familiar with fluid changes and the odd brake job. The following guide should get you up to speed on the function, recommended maintenance, troubleshooting and repair of the most important front end components.
Located between the rotor and the axle, hub bearings reduce friction and make turning easier. Occasionally, it’s a good idea to repack your bearings for longer life. If you hear squeaks from your wheels, it could be a sign of a bad hub bearing. A hub bearing replacement is an easy job and only takes a few minutes with the right tools.
Ball joints are spherical bearings that mate steering knuckles with control arms. Greasing up ball joints once in awhile is a good way to put off inconvenient breakdowns. If you hear a bang or click from a wheel when you hit a bump or back up, it’s probably a ball joint. Ball joint replacement is somewhat involved but achievable for the amateur wrencher.
Tie rods are an appropriate name for this part since they tie steering racks to steering arms. Without them, your power steering won’t work. Vibrations from the front end while driving without braking are a sure sign that tie rods are bad. Fortunately, a tie rod replacement is simple and doesn’t demand much gear beyond a floor jack and a ratchet.
Sway Bar Link.
In a nutshell, sway bars help to reduce body roll while cornering by making the vehicle’s chassis more rigid. Awful handling while driving in anything other than a straight line is a good indicator that sway bar links are on their way out. All you need to swap out a sway bar link is the hardware itself, a jack and a ratchet set.
Sway Bar Bushing.
As the name implies, sway bar bushings are interfaces between sway bars and their attachment points. The good thing about bushings is that they’re essentially maintenance-free. Unexplained rattles, clunks and handling quirks indicate that a bushing has gone bad. Visually inspecting the bushings should clear up any confusion. To replace a sway bar bushing, just jack up your car and slide on the new component.
Front End Repairs Made Easy.
Now that you know the lingo and a few tricks, front end repair should be a breeze. Whether you need to complete a hub bearing replacement, a ball joint replacement or a tie rod replacement, you’re now armed with the necessary knowledge. When in doubt, consult a reputable mechanic to advise you on the best course of action.