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Ball Joint Repair

  #1  
Old 02-01-2012, 09:47 AM
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Hi All,

I recently took my vehicle in to the shop for some maintenance because I didn't have time to do it myself. Now I'm having a little dispute with the mechanic about the bill and what was fixed.
They called me up and told me the lower and upper ball joints were bad, so I told them to go ahead and replace them for $530. Well I get the car back and see that they replaced both lower ball joints on the front end and the upper control arm on the passenger side, but NOT on the driver side. I can see that the boot on the driver side upper control arm joint is in bad condition. It doesn't seem that there is any play in that ball joint, but I was under the impression that it is good practice to replace a ball joint if the boot is broken/cracked/etc. Am I correct in thinking that? And why would you only replace 3 out of the 4...beside the fact that I thought I was paying for 4 new ones. The other thing is the car is a 1997 accord with 260,000 miles on it. Not sure when the last time the ball joints were replaced. Thoughts?
 
  #2  
Old 02-01-2012, 10:28 AM
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I think the upper balljoint cannot be replaced without the whole upper control arm.

It might be that they used a "pickle-fork" to separate the balljoints, which normally tears up the boot. You CAN replace just the rubber boot, especially if the balljoint itself is OK. Verify there's no dirt in the balljoint, or any other evidence to convince yourself that the boot hasn't been torn for months.
 
  #3  
Old 02-01-2012, 10:37 AM
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Correct, they replaced the upper control arm on the passenger side but did not do the driver side. The driver side boot was damaged by natural causes, which is why I am a little more concerned...it has probably been exposed for some time. The mechanic says it should be fine, but my question is for how long. It doesn't even look like there is much, if any, grease in what is left of the boot. I would assume these were all installed at the same time previously...now 3 of 4 are bad!

So I guess I'm just wondering what would you do in my situation. Would you fight the bill with the mechanic? It would have saved me labor costs to replace it while he was in there working already if I'm going to have to replace this control arm within the next year.

One more question...is there a way to replace the boot without tearing everything apart? Do they make a split boot?
 
  #4  
Old 02-01-2012, 11:11 AM
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I've never seen a split boot for that (#9 in the picture). You could get in there & only separate the upper control arm from the knuckle. I suspect you can replace that boot without needing to separate the lower balljoint or the axle.

If you still don't have time to do this yourself, you'll have to decide about going back or going to a different shop. Some mechanics have their own ways & sometimes they don't like customers telling them HOW to do their job.
 
  #5  
Old 02-11-2013, 12:53 AM
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Originally Posted by JimBlake View Post
I think the upper balljoint cannot be replaced without the whole upper control arm.
Wondering if there is a way. I'm going to replace all 4 upper balljoints on my '95. Advance auto sells just the balljoints without the arms for both front and back. The '97 FSM has an extensive write up on the front bottom one, but seems to barely mention any of the top ones. I can save almost half if I buy the ball joints by themselves. Just wondering if anyone knows or can point me towards a thread I may have missed when searching. Thanks.
 
  #6  
Old 02-11-2013, 07:27 AM
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The lower balljoints can be replaced without the lower control arms.

Uppers are different. If you drill or grind to remove the balljoint from the upper control arm, you still have to find a replacement. Somehow, that's one way to get adjustable camber I just don't know the details.
 
  #7  
Old 02-11-2013, 11:37 AM
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Ok, thanks. I think after checking everything out, I've decided to just go ahead and buy all four control arms (with the balljoint already pressed in). I did a balljoint job on my old Nissan Altima and nearly pulled out half my hair. I found a couple sets on ebay that make just going for the whole arm worth it compared to the risk of all the things that may go wrong trying to be cheap and doing just the balljoints! Thanks for the reply.
 
  #8  
Old 02-11-2013, 11:56 AM
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Originally Posted by chrisville37 View Post
... I did a balljoint job on my old Nissan Altima and nearly pulled out half my hair...
Well if you pull out the other half on the Accord, it won't look so lopsided.

There's a similar situation with shock absorbers. It's just about the same price to buy shocks with new springs attached, vs just buying the shocks. Saves installation labor.
 
  #9  
Old 02-11-2013, 11:58 AM
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The upper arm boot on my 96 accord has been torn/separated for some time. I peal it back sometimes and see if there is dirt crud in it always has been clean. Probably should be replaced the arms are pretty cheap.
 
  #10  
Old 02-11-2013, 12:02 PM
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Originally Posted by JimBlake View Post
Well if you pull out the other half on the Accord, it won't look so lopsided.
Ahh ... maybe that's what I need to do to impress the hot blonde with the 370z I just met ...

Oh and I'll keep your advice on the shock absorbers in mind when that job comes up. It's one thing to save money, but another to save sanity! And sometimes you can save both.

I may wind up doing the lower balljoints on this car anyhow, so I'll need to start pulling out beard hair @ that point!!!
 

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