The word 'joint' reminds many of us of biology or anatomy classes. From these classes, we learned that joints refer to the points of connection between two skeletal system components (read: bones), especially if it allows motion. Joints, however, do not only belong to the worlds of anatomy and biology. In the automotive world, we also hear about these joints. Particularly, joints are used in vehicles to connect two structural or mechanical components.
In your Mazda, you can find a number of joints that bonds mechanical parts together. One of these joints is the Mazda ball joint. A ball joint is a flexible coupling in a ball-and-socket construct. Its primary function is to connect the control arm to the steering knuckle. Stated in simpler terms, the primary function of the ball joints is to serve as pivot points between the vehicle's tires and suspension. Aside from this primary function, ball joints also perform a lot of other tasks. For one, ball joints also support the vehicle's weight. The flexibility of these couplings also allows them to compensate for the changes in the wheel and steering whenever the vehicle turns or when it hits a bump. In some vehicles, the ball joints would even be used to adjust the wheel alignment settings.
Every Mazda vehicle is equipped with Mazda ball joints. However, the number and type of ball joints used in a particular Mazda vehicle may vary with another. Mazda vehicles that still makes use of the conventional suspension system would normally be equipped with two ball joints per wheel: the upper ball joint and the lower ball joint. Vehicles using McPherson struts, however, would only have lower ball joints. The upper ball joints in these systems are normally replaced by strut bearings.
According to type, Mazda vehicles may be equipped with either ordinary ball joints or "lubed for life" ball joints. Ordinary ball joints require lubrication every after six months; although it is recommended that you lube them whenever you change oil. On the other hand, "lubed for life" or "lubed up" ball joints would not require lubrication, not because you don't need to but rather because you can't. Being "lubed for life" neither means that the joints would last the life of your Mazda. Instead, it only means that you won't have to lubricate the component as long as it is still functioning properly. Once it loses lubrication and starts to malfunction, you would have no other recourse but to replace it.
Human joints do heal but Mazda ball joints do not. So if the stock ball joints of your Mazda is already damaged, especially if they are "lubed up" ball joints, better replace them early on so that you can keep using your Mazda. Here at Parts Train, we maintain in our comprehensive inventory different kinds of Mazda ball joints for all Mazda models, years and trim levels.