We removed our coilovers to do this inspection, but you can perform this check by simply removing the wheel. Be sure to safely jack up the vehicle and use jack stands.
Ball JointsChecking your ball joints is a fairly simple task. You would simply need to jack the vehicle up so that all weight is off of the suspension components. Once the wheels are off the ground, you can grab hold of your wheel and tire and pull on it both vertically and horizontally. If you can hear any sounds or clunking coming from the ball joints, this is a good sign that it is time to get them replaced. Just listening for clunking or sounds is not enough though. If you feel or see any excess play in the joint or if the rubber boot covering the joint has any cracks, that is another indicator that it is time for replacement.
When your control arm bushings are worn out, oftentimes, you will get uneven tire wear, even though your alignment is correct and you will sometimes also get rattling coming from your suspension when going over bumps. When getting an alignment done on the vehicle, this is done so with the vehicle not in motion. When you are out on the road, the road will force the control arms to move around and if the bushings are worn out, there will be enough movement to affect your tire wear.
To check if your bushings are worn out, you can give them a quick visual inspection by checking to see if there are any that look worn out. If the visual check passes, I like to take a pry bar and slide the pry bar in between the control arm and mount and use the pry bar to see if there is any excess movement. If it seems like there is, you now know that it is time to replace either the bushings or the complete control arm.
When your tie rods are worn out, this can cause both uneven tire wear and sloppy steering feel. Much like checking the ball joints, you would want to grab hold of your tie rods and move them vertically and horizontally and check for excess play, and dirt and grim in the joint and if there are any torn or cracking boots.