Not necessarily.... When the wheel bearing finally went out on my Jimmy there was over 2" of play that I could move the wheel on.... the worst I've ever seen a wheel bearing before.... I know for a fact it was the wheel bearing as : 1. I had an alignment done at a local tire dealer right after I purchased it and they said the machine could see play in the wheel. 2. They said that everything else in the front end was tight. 3. The auto dealer I bought the truck from replaced the wheel bearing and everything has been peachy ever since. and 4. I've replaced more than a half-dozen wheel bearings in my short experience and the noise and associated problems from worn out wheel bearings are nearly all the same..... That being said, how did you get the idea that "if you jack up the car and there's play in the tire then its the ball joint." anyways just out of idle curiosity??? for that matter a loose wheel could be something as silly as loose lug nuts, and believe me that happens more often than you'd think.... Sorry if I came across sounding like a bit of an ass but I'm looking forward to finding out what is wrong with it..... I'm with you, back and forth play in a wheel while lifted is usually wheel bearing. The way I know to test for ball joints is to lift the wheel off the ground only an inch or two, then stick a bar under the tire and leverage it up. If the ball joint is bad, the tire/rim assembly will lift a bit as you lift up on the bar. If the ball joint is good it won't lift at all. thts what i was talkin about. i was looking around and it said put your hand at 3 and 9 and try to move it. it might have said do that for the wheel bearing. lol my bad. i looked up everything i could about the front end and all that so yea i got a little confused.