Car question about lower ball joints

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Bob_C, Jul 2, 2004.

  1. Bob_C

    Bob_C Agent

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    OK, I have a 2001 Ford Explorer 4x4 that I had a routine service on about 4000 miles ago. I was told I needed lower ball joints at a cost of about $500. Not really being a car guy, I asked what this meant. I was told that if I didn't get the repair it would mean excess wear on my tires. That was at over 75000 miles. I didn't get the ball joints replaced at that time because I figured I would wait until my tires were ready to be replaced. Now at nearly 80000 miles I'm planning on replacing my tires and am looking to have the ball joints fixed. When I mentioned this to someone they said I was an idiot because failing ball joints could cause major problems. My question is what exactly is the worse case scenario if the joints fail and what should I expect to pay for this repair. Does $5-600 sound right? I appreciate any insight at all into this because like I said I just don't know.
    Thanks,
    Bob
     
  2. Robert A

    Robert A Stunt Coordinator

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    The ball joints are an important part of the steering system. If they get bad enough then you start to loose the ability to steer well. This could mean big problems. $500 seems high to me but I never worked on your particular vehicle. I worked doing general maintance for a construction company 5 years ago and had to replace ball joints on some of the fleet vehicles. It is not that complicated if you have a service manual and a few tools. Most auto parts stores will rent tools to help seperate the joint and the service manuals typically have good pictures to help out (although they are not perfect).

    see this website for more info

    http://www.carcarecouncil.org/Steeri...ll_joint.shtml
     
  3. Bill Cowmeadow

    Bill Cowmeadow Second Unit

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    Catastrophic failure (seperation) of a lower ball joint, could cause a lot more than $500.00 damage. seperation would likely occur while traveling around a curve or corner at any speed, thus causing total loss of control and probable crash involving more than 1 vehicle. Lower ball joints are not a simple job, and will require a front end alignment when done.

    One other thing, this job can't be done with a 3/8 drive set of sockets.

    good luck.

    Bill
     
  4. Mary M S

    Mary M S Screenwriter

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    Yes replace them.
    The steering rack, tie rod ends and ball joints can affect camber and caster on your tire alignment. Certain of these parts breaking can leave you stranded (or rolled over if they break at an inopportune moment) Larger tires therefore usually pricy tires, - are usually purchased for the 4x4’s especially if the SUV is lifted. I hate spending money on rubber, and do everything to make it last as long as possible. You should do a little homework to make sure the shop (which will need to align your tires after ball joint replacement) is reputable and knows specs for these vehicles. A sloppy alignment can take thousands of miles off the expected wear life of your new wheels.
    Have not had a shop do a replacement for about 3 years, - it seems we had a Ford van with upper/lower tie rod/ ball work done at Mineke(sp?) Muffler. (my husband only does mechanical work on our 'fun' cars). The mechanic there happened to be talented and did one of the best alignments on this van, (FWD Ford) which are notorious for eating up front tires. He knew how to deal with the limited suspension controls for alignment on this van.
    For 5-6 hundred shopping around, - you should be able to get both your upper and lowers replaced.

    Here’s an article by an alignment shop, which might give you some insight to the affects of steering/suspension replacement parts on your tire investment.

    http://www.babcox.com/editorial/bf/bf100122.htm


    PS. My son purchased two specialty tires for his 68 Mustang at well over a 1000 dollars (out of his pocket). The mechanic who installed them toed the alignment out. In under 2 weeks (approx 4 drives) the tires had a completly bald patch 2" wide on the outer edge of the tread. My son (very young) was a nervous wreck. I explained there was no question the shop would make it good, as they could not argue the point having been paid to allign at the time of install. (boy was that mechanic in trouble) My son noticed the strange sensation through the steering but assumed it was new tires/alignment feel to the vechicle (he's more careful now but has also learned alot setting it up for racing etc) Not till the 4th drive did he suddenly spot the bald patch when getting in the car.

    It pays to understand alignment and watch your new tires carefully for a bit after a vehicle has just been aligned for ANY signs of uneven wear.

    This particular car is a nightmare to align because the shops (and we have been to all the race specialty locations) who are supposedly professionals, - keep trying to align this vechile to orginal factory specs for a 68 stang. It is in no manner factory having a Currie custom 9' rear end among other major supension/control mods. They ruin the tires when they pull that one.

    We are having suspinsion handling problems right now with this car since the motor was rebuilt to 450HP at the ground. Back to drawing board to make this car safe!

    When you find a talented alignment guy stick with and use him!
     
  5. Bob_C

    Bob_C Agent

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    Wow! Thanks for the input. I made the appointment for monday. Now I also know what to look for if there's a problem. I wish I was more useful when it comes to cars but it just isn't my thing.
     
  6. Shane Roach

    Shane Roach Stunt Coordinator

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    If you're even slightly mechanically inclined, then you can gradually become "useful" with cars. Surf around and read at places like howstuffworks.com and owner's forums for your vehicle, and buy a Haynes or factory service manual. You might even be able to download an FSM.

    If you don't already, start doing basic maintenance yourself. Changing the oil is a simple job that takes little time and less mechanical skill, and it offers a great opportunity to poke around under the hood (and under the chassis) to look at how things go together.

    As your knowledge and skills increase, so will your confidence. When I was a teenager, my grandpa taught me how to change oil and spark plugs (which I needed to know, that old Z ate plugs for breakfast), and now I consider myself competent to do most anything that doesn't require special equipment (alignment, body work) or an extremely low level of klutziness (internal engine stuff).
     
  7. NicholasL

    NicholasL Second Unit

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    Hey Bob, I just went through almost the same scenario as you. I have a 1997 4x4 Explorer that is lifted 6" with 33" mud tires and totally modified for the trail. Anyways, my shop told me the other day (while getting tires rotated and balanced) that I needed the ball joints replaced, and that it would cost about 5-6 bills too. So no, your shop ain't ripping you off.
     
  8. DonnyD

    DonnyD Screenwriter

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    While on a trip, I happened to notice "cupping" of the front tires on my 97 F150.... got back home, had it checked... and YEP, ball joints..... got'em changed and then about 1 year later, was in the same shop for a front end alignment (more cupping) and was told I needed ball joints.... duh...... Although it was the same shop, there was a different mechanic..... of course, I got directly "involved" in the inspection and found that the 1st ball joint replacement had been done with the WRONG BALL JOINTS.... The shop made it good and have had no other problems.......
    From then on, I've taken both my F150s to FORD for just about everything........

    2-3 hundred per side is about right but if you have ball joint replement, you'll probably need an alignment too which will end up being on the upper side of that.....

    On the 68 stang.... I once had a 67 stang fastback with HUGH tires on the rear, and little-bitty ones on the front.... it was the 60's and that was cool back then..... and I was constantly wearing out front tires...... I spent so much money on that thing that I couldn't AFFORD to have a QUALIFIED alignment man FIX it properly!!!!
     
  9. Mary M S

    Mary M S Screenwriter

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    On the 68 stang....
    My son's is not a fastback, (old family car redone) I must prefer the coup styling (I KNOW
    sacrilege !) men prefer the FB.

    Pick any up available now that are still concourse capable (for storage) Sanderson (the Elanor maker santioned by Shelby) is buying them up for the 80K redo. A true orginal will be worth something when the redo's have used up all the rest.

    Ours has
    255’s/50/16 front/rear. Hard to keep up with tires using them up on a track. I burnt up most of the life on my brand new Mini-Cooper Factory set in one days schooling at SCCA. Almost everything 'fun' costs. [​IMG]

    http://www.ntmconline.org/photos/Yel...target179.html
     
  10. DonnyD

    DonnyD Screenwriter

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    Very nice pics Mary....

    #034 is identical to my 67 FB (except in that very light yellow) and #206 is identical to my dad's 55 red and white crown....
    You photo collage certainly took me back to the time when us kids all knew every model and year.....

    Great pics!
     

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