During routine service on Suzuki vehicles, it is important to inspect the lower arm ball joint as this system can gradually deteriorate due to driving in adverse weather and rough road conditions. Check for backlash/vertical movement, possible water intrusion into the dust boot, ball joint rust and cracking or fracture of the dust boot.
Remove the wheel and bolt the front brake disc to the hub using two opposing stud washers and nuts. Attach a magnetic stand and dial indicator attached to the brake disc and set the pointer of the dial gauge to the center of the bottom of the lower arm’s ball joint. Rotate the gauge to the zero position. To measure upward backlash, use your hand to push upward near the ball joint with about 15-22 ft-lb pressure and hold it for two or three seconds while measuring the value.
To measure downward backlash, pull down on the lower arm near the ball joint with the same pressure and hold for two or three seconds while measuring value. Add the measurements from the upward and downward checks. The sum is the total amount of backlash. If the total is less than 0.007-inch, then inspect for water intrusion into the dust boots. If more than 0.007-inch, replace the lower arm assembly. If the boot is cracked and/or signs of water intrusion are evident, replace the lower arm assembly.
Inspect for rust. Separate the ball joint from the lower spindle to inspect. Move the dust boot’s upper sealing area and inspect the ball joint for rust in the contact area between the ball joint and the dust boot. If rust is visible, replace the lower arm assembly. Even if no rust is apparent, if the dust boot is cracked/damaged, replace the lower arm assembly.