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Old 07-30-2005, 11:22 PM   #1
nrsmd
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Worn ball joints?

We have a 1995 Econoline van E-150 with about 75,000 miles. We bought it used from CarMAx several years agon, so we don't know its true history.

We put a hitch on last week, all OK.

However, the repair shop said that the ball joints were VERY worn and should be replaced. We don't use this shop, so I am wondering if their comments are true.

How can we tell by driving if the ball joints are worn? Maybe there is no way, but before spending $675.00 they are asking for to replace all 4 ball joints, I thought I would ask?

I don't have great automotive skills oher than replacing my own oil and oil filters, etc.

Nathan
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Old 07-31-2005, 09:52 PM   #2
Harrist7
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Put car on stands and shake/wobble tires while checking joints.
Check joints themselves for excessive looseness.

If they are really bad, you can usually feel/hear them when you turn....

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Old 08-01-2005, 09:45 PM   #3
MagicRat
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Re: Worn ball joints?

More specifically, one should raise the van and place a jackstand on the lower control joint close to but not touching the tire.
The idea here is to compress the spring the same way it would be if it were sitting on the ground.
The tire should only be an inch or so off the ground.
Now, have someone put a prybar under the tire and lift and lower the tire. Yuo should watch the lower ball joint. Watch the steering knuckle. This is the part that turns with the wheel and has the upper ball joint at the top and the lower one at the bottom. If it is loose, you will see the steering knuckle move up and down, but the lower control joint will not move. Watch CAREFULLY. A worn joint will have as little as 1/16 inch of play, which is hard to see, unless you are careful.
For the upper joint, when the car is still elevated grab the top of the tire and wiggle the tire from side to side, while someone looks at the top ball joint. There should be no visible movement AND you should feel no movement. Note: loose wheel bearings can also feel like a loose upper joint.

IMHO any detectable looseness means replace the joint. 75k miles is more than enough to wear out joints, especially if the van was driven mostly when heavily loaded and/or the joints were rarely greased.
Also, these joints are a VITAL safety item. For safety's sake, they should all be relaced if you have any reason to suspect they are worn.

Bad ball joints can (but not always) produce popping or clunking noises and odd tire wear, where the tire have a 'cupped' or rippled appearance.
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