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How hard is to do ball joints on a 2001 tahoe

12-28-2008, 11:19 AM
110K on the clock - steering wheel is moving left and right to self correct over bumps in the road. Also have the front end rattle - but this tahoe has always made some noise... especially since I have 20s on it.

Brake Masters quoted me $1500 to do upper and lower - both sides with a idler arm and alignment (using AC Delco parts) thinking I might need to get my hands dirty on this one.

Any posters who have tackled this themselves? Time for a newbie? Scale of 1 to 10 how hard? Are there aftermarket parts that are as good as AC Delco - but less expensive?

This comes right after $1000 for H2O pump, hoses and belt - and $750 for all new brakes from the spindles out all the way around.

Feels like my days with my tahoe are slowing coming to an end - whats next... tranny? AC? ???



12-28-2008, 01:06 PM
Why don't you check the recommended components first to see if in fact you need all that work?

12-28-2008, 02:30 PM
Hi Max,
Thank you for your reply - Brake Masters had it up on their rack and physically took the passenger side wheel in front and moved it up and down - hard to say how much room and movement it is "supposed" to have - they also grabbed the assembly in the front that is connected to the i arm and pitman arm and moved it slightly too.

I guess I could take it to another shop to take a look... and give me a second quote -


12-28-2008, 02:54 PM
That method of checking does not always give you a good indication of ball joint wear. Imo the best way is, on pavement, place a floor or bottle jack under the front wheel's lower control arm (NOT on the car frame). Raise the jack until the front wheel is about a half inch or so in the air. Slide a big pry bar into that gap underneath the front tire, and use it to lift the wheel.
The idea here is to just lift the weight of the tire, wheel and hub up and down repeatedly.
If the ball joint is worn, you will see a little bit of movement at the ball joint itself. Sometimes its best to have one person lifting with the bar and another person looking for movement. A tiny bit of movement is okay, but generally anything more than 1/16 inch is not acceptable,

Imo I would not recommend changing ball joints yourself, if you have never done it before, since it is a safety-related item. There are things that can go wrong, and any mistake could mean you would lose a wheel and likely lose control of the truck when driving.

When I did my first ball joint job, I had an experienced buddy helping me. Having him show me the correct way was very helpful.

BTW Imo a ball joint press, service manual and a couple of pickle forks are essential for the job.

12-28-2008, 03:33 PM
Avoid using a pickle fork on the tie rod ends!I call pickle forks "boot destroyers" and use a BFH instead on the side of the knuckle poping out with 3 good whacks.Moog is another choice for ball joints and pays the labor if one goes out with a lifetime warranty.I believe you do not need a bal joint press for this one,it is riveted in from the factory.

12-28-2008, 07:30 PM
Agreed on all points, gentlemen.

12-29-2008, 12:46 PM
Thank you for all your suggestions - I will take Magic's advice and test them myself. My biggest reason for taking it to BM to be checked was the symptom of the steering wheel moving left and right after hittting some bumps in the road while I was doing about 30mph. Attempting to recreate the issue has proven next to impossible. I will keep my eye out for more front end wear. My back tires are almost new and the fronts are a bit worn on the inside edge (out of alignment - recently corrected) so I know that my ride is not optimal based on the condition of these 2 front tires. Possibly more going on here than ball joints - time will tell. For now it tracks down the road straight and only wonders when it hits ruts in the road - even the little ones. That tends to happen with most cars that run bigger tires.

Thanks again - this forum is the best!


12-29-2008, 05:35 PM
I might suggest rotating the tires, rear to front, same sides, and then monitor front tire wear to make sure the alignment was done properly. I would do this regardless to get the better tires in front.

12-29-2008, 06:04 PM
Just a shot in the dark here but it could also be your CV joint. I had an old cavalier that would do the same thing when I took a curve. Scared the bejeezus out of me. It felt like the whole front end was going south on me. As for the ball joint thing. Experience is best here. Absolutely a safety issue. Most of the time you end up having to drill and such and theres too much room for slop. Hey, it happens. Even to the best of us;-)
From your description, it should have been easy to determine if it was the ball joint. Do a google search or such and see if it is a common complaint with other owners or technicians. Good luck!:nono:

12-30-2008, 05:15 AM
You say that a alignment had been done recently, Prior to the alignment all of the compotents should have been checked by technican.What was their findings??

Have you checked the steering gear box for play or the rag joint that is on the steering column shaft that connects to steering gear box??

Isn't there a sensor on the steering shaft that could cause this also?? (I have not read up on this lately but maybe time to do a search again.

j cAT
12-31-2008, 12:50 PM
this is a common problem front end is aligned by tire installers for free then the tires wear poorly because of incorrect alignment or worn componets.

as mentioned if you can check all these componets yourself if possible..I gave up having the alignments done at these shops and now do it myself...

your vehicle problem sounds like you have incorrect toe and also the worn tires causing the wandering after hitting bumps in the road surface..worn componets will cause this....

ball joints would cause popping noises that would be felt in the steering wheel...

with 4x4 vehicles it is important to rotate tires and try to keep then equally worn....less stress on the drive train..good luck..

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