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What are the symptoms of worn ball joints?

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Old 11-08-2000, 03:28 PM   #1
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What are the symptoms of worn ball joints?

A while back, I took my car to NTB for an alignment. They told me that I needed new ball joints, and showed me why. They had the car on a lift, and the guy grabs a wheel and shakes it. There was a lot of play in the wheel. Both front wheels were like this. I had heard that wheel bearings can also cause this, and since they are so cheap, I just replaced the wheel bearings. The front end felt much tighter, and with the car jacked up, I couldn't shake the wheel. A few months later inspection time came, and while the T/A was being inspected at the Chevrolet dealer, I told him about what happened at NTB. He checked the ball joints, and said they were fine, that there was very minimal play, well within specs.

So what's going on here? Did NTB just want me to pay $250 to have them install new ball joints that aren't needed? Or could they really be bad? Is there a way to tell for sure?

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Old 11-08-2000, 07:52 PM   #2
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Jack the front wheel so that it clears the ground by placing the jack under the lower control arm. You must jack under the lower control arm to UNLOAD the ball joint. Now that the wheel is off the ground grab the top and bottom of the tire and try to pull and push the wheel toward the center of the car in an alternating sequence. If the wheel bearings are tight then there should be no play at all. Side note: sometimes the strut will have an eeeennsssyy weeeennnsssyy bit of play, this is OK. If play is detected, have someone push and pull the wheel while you look at different components to see WHICH ONE IS MOVING. Hope this helps and post any questions you may have.

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Old 11-09-2000, 12:05 AM   #3
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I think I need new ball joints. I am going to try this myself it dosen't seem to tough but I am looking at ordering a set and they ask about oversize ball joints for use with worn spindles, how do you determine if these are necessary, or that your spindles are worn enough to need the oversized ball joints

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Old 11-13-2000, 08:12 AM   #4
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About the oversized ball joints... I could be wrong but when I replaced my ball joints I was told that the oversized ball joints were for times when the hole in the control arm where the ball joints get pressed into has become enlarged. Apparently if the ball joints have been replaced a few times the hole can get stretched out so a slightly larger diameter ball joint is needed for a tight fit. I don't think it has anything to do with the mounting to the spindle. i could be wrong though.
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Old 11-13-2000, 09:51 AM   #5
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Although ball joints can be a royal pain, it's a hell of alot cheaper to do yourself. The ball joints are cheap at the parts store and most places you can rent the tool right there, as well. The press is basically like a big-*** C-clamp with a bunch of different "cups" or adapters. Replacing them will run ya about $30-40, versus paying $250. As for oversize ball joints, you shouldn't need them. Your control arm would have to be worn out as all hell, and you'd know it. One other tip, make sure you press them out straight and press them in straight - very important! It'll be much easier, too. Once you have the new ones in, make sure they are completely seated.


[This message has been edited by thunderstick (edited November 13, 2000).]
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