Lower ball joint or bearing pre load? Tiny clunk and movement 6 and 12

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Jun 15, 2010
SO now that I have the play in the steering corrected (inner and outer tie rods)

I have a small amount of play when I grab the tire at 6 & 12 and push and pull.
Just a hair, and a slight clink. I can see the wheel move just a tiny bit.

Am I looking at a wheel bearing preload or a lower ball joint? I can't tell if it does at at 3 and 9 as both wheels are in the air right now.
Is there anyway you can move the tire and look behind it at the same time? If you can see movement in the ball joints while looking behind it then you have your problem, if you don’t then it’s bearings.
Those symptoms turned out to be bearing preload for me. Bearings were still good.
12 & 6 movement is bearings.

You can test ball joints for movement with a prybar-
So I got into it and found I had 0 tension on the bearing pre-load.
I followed the instructions however, to get to the 9.5-15 lbs of pull on the hub I had to torque the nut to 35FT/lbs.
Am I out of spec? or can I run it like this?
Your ok, thats a reasonable number. If you have oversized tires maybe skew your breakaway preload to get an average of 13-14 pounds force on your fish scale or whatever your using. Good rule of thumb is consistent 11lbs force- which can be tedious to arrive at sometimes.

Re: Adjusting nut torque- As bearings wear in over time it will require higher torque to achieve your nominal breakaway preload. Im closer to 45-50ft lbs to get a consistent 13lbF. And once you torque the locking nut it will increase the breakaway preload a small bit.

Don't overlook the snap ring gap- which is an important part of keeping your bearings, thrust washer, and rear bushing in good order.

All you want to know about bearings- preload- snap ring gap here:
Bearing repack GURUs
Typically with weight off wheel/tire and grease cap off, movement can be seen between wheel hub & claw washer. Then you know that is at least part of your play.

Do check your TRE & ball joints while at it.
No play at joint, it's good.

Bottle jack under LCA raising tire a few inch off the ground, use 20 lb pray bar to lift tire repeatedly.
Any movement in joint is bad.
Inspecting the steering rack boots and gears of rack is good idea while inspecting.

Power steering reservoir low, this indicates leak. Most common leak is hoses, easy fix. If rack boots fill up with fluid from rack leak, replacement rack is needed.

Any play between rack and tie rods (inside boots), replacement rack is needed.

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