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Ball joint play?


gc_caddy

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I just had my front end inspected (one of those "free inspection" offers). They found that the driver side's ball joint is loose. They showed me the play (1mm?) by shaking the front tire while it was up on the hoist.

The cost to replace both front (l&r) ball joints, as a pair, was about C$680, including labour.

How much play, if any is acceptable? Is this a job that a D-Y-I can do?

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To me no play is acceptible, you will begin to wear the inside of your tires and put undue stress on your hub bearing. I have replaced the LF on my 96 and have the RF in the garage ready to go when I do the struts. This is an easy job if you ask me, the hard part is drilling out the rivets.. Mike

Early on sailors navigated by the stars at night and the North star became the symbol for finding ones way home. Once you know where the Northstar is you can point your ship in the right direction to get home. So the star became a symbol for finding ones way home or more symbolically even finding ones path in life.

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I would suggest a more thorough diagnosis before laying out that kind of cash... I recently replaced the right side front wheel hub & bearing, because the outer edge of the tire would wobble maybe 1/4 inch (~6 mm). You have to wiggle the tire holding it at the top & bottom, then move 90 degrees and wobble it left right, while a helper is looking at the steering knuckle, and see what's wiggling relative to what (boy, that was hard to describe in words!).

The wheel bearing wasn't a hard job...several have described it. I thought the hardest part was removing the brake caliper, and suspending it!

Hope this helps! -Rick94

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I didn't see the cost.... OMG!!!!! Only the ball joints?

I bought MOOG, ball joints for $75 each, total $150. Plus I replaced the strut rod bushing and stabilizer bar bushings.... Either do it yourself for peanuts or find a more reasonable mechanic. This job is a CAKE WALK...

Early on sailors navigated by the stars at night and the North star became the symbol for finding ones way home. Once you know where the Northstar is you can point your ship in the right direction to get home. So the star became a symbol for finding ones way home or more symbolically even finding ones path in life.

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I didn't see the cost.... OMG!!!!! Only the ball joints?

I bought MOOG, ball joints for $75 each, total $150. Plus I replaced the strut rod bushing and stabilizer bar bushings.... Either do it yourself for peanuts or find a more reasonable mechanic. This job is a CAKE WALK...

Thanks Mike. I'll read my FSM tonight to review the process. If it's easy, I would rather do it myself. And I guess a wheel alignment is required after the ball joints replacement.

Yeah re: the price... it included an alignment, though that cost is minimal. They quoted 4 hours of labour. The quoted Moog parts were about US$100 each. (OEMs were about US$175.)

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The alignment may be necessary even though the control arm will drop away without disturbing the alignment points. It needs to be checked. It is unlikely the new ball joint shaft location will be different enough to cause it to be out but it is possible.

Also the book time on the ball joints ought to be around 2 hours(1 each). I would definately get a second opinion.

HTH

John

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Scotty,

Did you have to drill out rivets to get your old ball joints out?

I replaced mine with MOOG as well and it took a few hours because the rivets are pretty tough to drill. The second joint was easier because I learned and gained experience with the first. I don't think I would say it's a cakewalk, especially if you haven’t done the job before. Also, I'm suspicious that my right side ball joint is popping. I’m hearing a distinct pop in the ball joint area. If it turns out to be the ball joint it will be but another bad aftermarket parts experience. I would recommend ACDelco/GM replacement ball joints. I'll buy GM if it turns out that the MOOG joint is defective.

GC, is that $680 American? That is too much in my opinion. People who fix cars for a living should have the tools and experience to do the job efficiently (certainly in less than 3 hours) so I don't understand why so expensive. If you want to replace the joints yourself here is a bit of information that I wrote regarding my experience replacing ball joints:

http://caddyinfo.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=370&hl

You should search the topic and find out what others have said as well.

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Yes I had to drill out the rivets also. On my 91 it took a long time as I did not have a vice and I was using a 3/8" drill. Now I have a bench and a Milwalkee 1/2" wrist breaker drill and my LF only took about 15 minutes to drill out after drilling a pilot hole. Having the correct tools makes a difference. I even purchased a new 7/16" drill bit for the job.

I agree fully with your statement about how much easier the second ball joint was, I am on my 4th now and its really easy (did a bunch in the old days also, but 4th modern suspension).. The first one was a bear... My parts place tried to sell me some cheap chinese ball joint for $50 and I made them order me the MOOG...

I have never had trouble with a MOOG part they are really high quality, keep it greased, I am sure it has a warranty, if it is in fact bad I would complain to MOOG about it, it should NOT go bad quickly at all... Keep them greased, I grease mine every other oil change.

By the way, I totally removed the lower control arm to do the job, that allows me to replace all the bushings and to work on the ball joint at my bench standing up... Much easier job this way... NOTE, DO NOT torque the lower control arm bolt unless the car is sitting AT its ride height, torquing the bolts up while the control arm is hanging down will damage the lower control arm bushings....when the car is lowered it will twist the bushing

Early on sailors navigated by the stars at night and the North star became the symbol for finding ones way home. Once you know where the Northstar is you can point your ship in the right direction to get home. So the star became a symbol for finding ones way home or more symbolically even finding ones path in life.

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...

GC, is that $680 American? That is too much in my opinion. People who fix cars for a living should have the tools and experience to do the job efficiently ...

Thats $680 Canadian, about $530 US. For parts and labour, replacing both front ball joints, and the followup wheel alignment. The parts were Moog.

I was a bit suspicious of the quote and requirement to replace the RF one (there was only about 1 mm movement up/down - but I don't know is this was acceptable. )

Thanks for the link. The job doesn't seem too complicated... just slow and steady.

P.S. The FSM says to use 2 special tools, a "Ball Joint Separator" and a "Ball Joint Nut Wrench". Are these really needed?

Glenn.

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I just bought a ball joint separator but have not used it yet. Since you are replacing the ball joint, you could use a fork to separate the joint. I don't like using a fork because a fork damages the joints grease seal. In the old days before struts you could just loosen the nut, allow the weight of the spring to hang and hit the knuckle with a hammer and it would pop, but its not as easy with the strut front end.

You don't need a ball joint wrench. If you are going to do this, order strut rod bushings, stabilizer bar bushings, and remove the lower control arm. Its not difficult. If you are reasonably proficient at eyeing up, centerpunching and drilling a straight hole its not a big deal. Drill a carefully centered pilot hole first. Putting the control arm in a vice helps you to drill a clean straight hole. Use a lot of oil while drilling and use a 1/2" drill if possible even rent one, there is a BIG difference between a 3/8" "home-owners" grade drill and a 1/2" heavy duty high torque grade drill. I know I said it before but with my new Milwaukee Magnum 1/2" drill and a new bit cut those rivets were like butter. Its a very interesting job to do. You will need a torque wrench also.

While you are at it, if your brakes are low, do them while you are there. Send the rotors to a shop to be cleaned up and you will be done with the front end for awhile. PLUS you will have done all of this work for was LESS than they wanted to charge you to do just the ball joints.

Early on sailors navigated by the stars at night and the North star became the symbol for finding ones way home. Once you know where the Northstar is you can point your ship in the right direction to get home. So the star became a symbol for finding ones way home or more symbolically even finding ones path in life.

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That's gotta be way too much for a ball joint replacement (alignment nonetheless).

I did it and yes, the drilling out of the rivets can be tough. I do not have a shop nor even a vice, but was able to do the job along with replacing the half shafts and wheel hubs.

A titanium drill bit (~$20) did wonders.

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I don't think so a good sharp 7/16 bit through the middle of the rivet with a standard drill will do the trick.. While I like the dremel tool a lot, its not really hearty enough for this kind of work. The bit will do it just fine.. Good Luck, if you need any help holla, Mike

Early on sailors navigated by the stars at night and the North star became the symbol for finding ones way home. Once you know where the Northstar is you can point your ship in the right direction to get home. So the star became a symbol for finding ones way home or more symbolically even finding ones path in life.

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Hammer drills are for masonry. Using the hammer function while drilling steel will only dull and break your drill bits. :(

A Dremel tool with a cut off wheel would work, plan on spending about a week :P and several gross of cutoff wheels. Best bet is to use a titanium nitrided or a cobalt drill bit. Follow the directions that come with the new ball joint or the ones in the FSM. You should have no problem.

Just be sure to use jack stands and eye protection!

Good Luck,

Britt

Britt
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