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 Write-Up: Front Lower Ball Joint Replacement

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Ryan from Ohio
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PostSubject: Write-Up: Front Lower Ball Joint Replacement   Sun Apr 25, 2010 7:47 pm

I was told that the lower passenger ball joint was bad when I was having a tire patched.

Explains the odd sounds the cars been making.

I figured I would write this little article up to save people some time as I had to learn the hard way while doing this.

First and foremost- if you do NOT have an angle grinder with 60 grit disc & a cut off wheel, access to a hydraulic press DO NOT waste your time. You will also need a dremel tool with an industrial rotary stone (bought at Lowes). Last but not least a pickle fork and a 4lb mini sledge hammer.

Most of us in the rust belt will also need to replace the sway bar end link. So you will need that and the ball joint.

First things first, remove the calipers, brake pads and the rotor.

Next remove the cotter pin from the ball joints castle nut.

Take the nut off

Use a pickle fork and a 4Lb mini-sledge and let your frustrations out. Well until the taper breaks free.

Now that its free you will need a 21mm socket and an 18 mm wrench. Remove the bolt on the chassis.

After that one you will need the same socket and a 55 Torx bit. Remove the other bolt from the chassis.

Now to recap-
The ball joint should be broke free/loose on its taper
Both chassis bolts holding the control arm should be off.

This leaves us with the sway bar link. Mine was old, rusted crusted and the rubber was ugly. So i used a cut off and cut it right at the spacer. Be prepared it will snap off a bit...

After the links out wiggle the unit free.

Take it to a work bench or a cinder block. Step on the arm with your foot and use the angle grinder with 60 grit disc and grind off BOTH sides of the heads. Grind them flush and clean.

You will notice one sides bigger than the other. Thats because the rivets are tapered.

You will now need a hydraulic press.

Put the large side of the rivet down over a socket. Use a grade 8 bolt to push the rivet through. This take a decent amount of power to complete. It will pop and it may startle you.

Installation isnt to bad.

I opted to sand and paint my control arm at this point. Being in the rust belt clean metal isnt a good idea... Obviously it was a quicky job...

Anyhow.

Pop the new ball joint in. The large side you can slide a bolt into. Put the 3 bolts in to line it up. Remove bolts.

Now you will have to open up the control arm to allow the bolts through all the way. use the dremel tool with the stone. This takes about 10 minutes a hole or so.

Torque the bolts/ball joint down real GOOD. I used a wrench and a 1/2 breaker bar and put some power into it.

Next put the doughnut part into the chassis (front bushing). Just slap the bolt in it for now to hold alignment.

Next put the ball joint taper into the housing @ the wheel. Just start the castle nut on it.

Now the fun part. You will need some help pushing the control arm in and getting the bolt back on the chassis part. This is the horizontal bolt.

Tighten all the bolts up nice and tight. Tighten the castle nut down, insert cotter pin and bend it over.

This leaves you with that pesky sway bar link.

I assembled it all with exception of the top washer and nut as there were no threads showing.

I used a tire iron and a 4 foot pipe to pry the sway bar down to get the washer nut on and started.

Tighten that up until tight- nut should bottom out.

Put the brakes back on.

Done.

Its not a fun or easy job. it takes some time.

I started by grinding rivets with the arm on the car. I beat the hell outta them with a chisel and 4 lb mini sledge to no avail

Have fun, it sucks!
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Front Lower Ball Joint Replacement   Sun Apr 25, 2010 9:10 pm

You could drill out the rivets. Less drama.

Albertj
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Front Lower Ball Joint Replacement   Sun Apr 25, 2010 9:48 pm

another option is to buy a new lower control arm. they are not that much when you consider a OEM ball joint is $70 and you would get new bushings to go with.

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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Front Lower Ball Joint Replacement   Sun Apr 25, 2010 9:51 pm

Mr.Riviera wrote:
another option is to buy a new lower control arm. they are not that much when you consider a OEM ball joint is $70 and you would get new bushings to go with.

possibly the best option

that said it *is* really valuable to know how to swap just the ball joint, so 'hats off' to Ryan for posting details.

Albertj
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Front Lower Ball Joint Replacement   Sun Apr 25, 2010 10:03 pm

albertj wrote:
You could drill out the rivets. Less drama.

Albertj

I thought about this to.

When people said "Rivet" I think pop rivet.

Well not the case. These are like "bridge rivets". They are solid. I cant see where the second piece was even...

Also, even if you do drill through it, its still pressed in. There was a great deal of pressure on them. The hydraulic press we were using had a bottle jack on it. He had a great deal of pressure on it. No gauge so I cant say for sure, but would guess at least 4 tons or so.
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Front Lower Ball Joint Replacement   Sun Apr 25, 2010 10:12 pm

albertj wrote:
You could drill out the rivets. Less drama.

Albertj

Less perhaps, but still drama...

This is one of those jobs that I've always hated, along with those miserable bushings. Then with our Rivieras, they kept changing the design to the point that, judging by the factory manuals, the Delco catalog, and some of the web parts sites, even the damned company doesn't know what control arm they installed and how to repair it!

Now it's even worse: Until today, I thought we just had to worry about steel arms through '96, and aluminum afterward... Now I find that they changed the aluminum arms again in '98, and the '97s cost twice as much! bounce


Good write-up, Ryan thumbsup
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Front Lower Ball Joint Replacement   Sun Apr 25, 2010 10:21 pm

dont see why you cant use the 98 arms on the 97. anyone have a pic of each to compare?

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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Front Lower Ball Joint Replacement   Wed Apr 28, 2010 6:44 am

Maybe thats why I didnt see a complete control arm listed...
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Front Lower Ball Joint Replacement   Wed Apr 28, 2010 3:56 pm

Ryan from Ohio wrote:
Maybe thats why I didnt see a complete control arm listed...

Right, because your "normal" arms are serviceable, while the aluminum ones are designed to be replaced as complete units when anything goes bad. Just like all the factory parts for our low-production cars, though, I'm worried about availability (and cost) when I finally do need new arms/bushings/joints... sad
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Front Lower Ball Joint Replacement   Wed Apr 28, 2010 7:22 pm

The stuff is cheap right now. At least parts for ours.

$33 for a ball joint, $5 for sway bar links. Front bushing is $22, rear is $8.

I would of done those also, but running broke this week.
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Front Lower Ball Joint Replacement   Wed Apr 28, 2010 7:46 pm

Eldo wrote:
Ryan from Ohio wrote:
Maybe thats why I didnt see a complete control arm listed...

Right, because your "normal" arms are serviceable, while the aluminum ones are designed to be replaced as complete units when anything goes bad. Just like all the factory parts for our low-production cars, though, I'm worried about availability (and cost) when I finally do need new arms/bushings/joints... sad
I've been giving thought to these kinds of things lately as well. I want to keep the car, so do I spend money on things like a pair of new controls arms, and have them in stock, instead of thinking about installing a GenV and all the associated stuff to go along with it, etc.
Maybe stop modding things and just try and accumulate all the new parts I know I'll need in the near future, or sell it before everything becomes obsolete.
The car only has 109K miles but it seems time is running out on parts availability.
I own too many obsolete vehicles, motorcycles included.
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Front Lower Ball Joint Replacement   Wed Apr 28, 2010 10:53 pm

Rickw wrote:
Eldo wrote:
Ryan from Ohio wrote:
Maybe thats why I didnt see a complete control arm listed...

Right, because your "normal" arms are serviceable, while the aluminum ones are designed to be replaced as complete units when anything goes bad. Just like all the factory parts for our low-production cars, though, I'm worried about availability (and cost) when I finally do need new arms/bushings/joints... sad
I've been giving thought to these kinds of things lately as well. I want to keep the car, so do I spend money on things like a pair of new controls arms, and have them in stock, instead of thinking about installing a GenV and all the associated stuff to go along with it, etc.
Maybe stop modding things and just try and accumulate all the new parts I know I'll need in the near future, or sell it before everything becomes obsolete.
The car only has 109K miles but it seems time is running out on parts availability.
I own too many obsolete vehicles, motorcycles included.

I suspect the "hard" parts won't be that bad, and GM's been relatively selective about obsolescence. The control arms are available. The rear lateral arms are not too tough to copy if you weld or know someone who does, or if you want you can buy adjustable ones and loctite them in alignment.

The crash parts are ridiculous.

There's no indication that GMs going to make a car with seats anywhere near as comfy in the foreseeable future.

My read is if you work on it yourself it's not going to be too bad. Until 2015 or so when the model becomes a true 20 y.o. classic, and then at that point I am not sure. Don't know too many classics that are daily drivers. Would make a superb summer cruiser. If I had the space I'd call it a "toy" and do/pay for a rotisserie cleanup and convertible conversion.

Albertj


Last edited by albertj on Wed Apr 28, 2010 11:43 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Front Lower Ball Joint Replacement   Wed Apr 28, 2010 11:14 pm

Thanks for that opinion Albert.
I have been giving this quite a bit of thought lately, mainly because I'm not in a position financially to replace the car, being unemployed for the foreseeable future. But I can, with the help of friends, machine most things i need. That's how i keep the old Harley running.
And the engine mods I have done have perked the car up a bit, but I don't believe at all that they will decrease the life of the motor or trans based on the way I drive and how mild these mod's are.
If I put the GenV on it with the N* TB and the LQ4 MAF and the tune for all of it, I will feel quite a bit more HP and TQ and I know me, I'll be using that TQ every chance I get. Which can only reduce the amount of miles before overhaul. Then I want a cam and........
If I were in a different financial state I wouldn't care. But all of a sudden I seem to care. I don't want to use the car up, I really do like this car.
I don't think in the past I would care to keep a car more than maybe 5 or 6 years at the extreme, before I was ready for something different. Usually it was more like 3 or 4 max.
I don't know, am I just getting older and becoming more content with what i have.??
Not sure. But I think I'll put that Brand New GenV and intake up for sale soon and just be happy with what i got.
I need to get on the motorcycle and go for a long ride and think this through.........................................

Remember the road has always been the place to find the answers, or just ignore the questions.
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Front Lower Ball Joint Replacement   Wed Apr 28, 2010 11:22 pm

albertj wrote:
Rickw wrote:
Eldo wrote:
Ryan from Ohio wrote:
Maybe thats why I didnt see a complete control arm listed...

Right, because your "normal" arms are serviceable, while the aluminum ones are designed to be replaced as complete units when anything goes bad. Just like all the factory parts for our low-production cars, though, I'm worried about availability (and cost) when I finally do need new arms/bushings/joints... sad
I've been giving thought to these kinds of things lately as well. I want to keep the car, so Ido spend money on things like a pair of new controls arms, and have them in stock, instead of thinking about installing a GenV and all the associated stuff to go along with it, etc.
Maybe stop modding things and just try and accumulate all the new parts I know I'll need in the near future, or sell it before everything becomes obsolete.
The car only has 109K miles but it seems time is running out on parts availability.
I own too many obsolete vehicles, motorcycles included.

I suspect the "hard" parts won't be that bad, and GM's been relatively selective about obsolescence. The control arms are available. The rear lateral arms are not too tough to copy if you weld or know someone who does, or if you want you can buy adjustable ones and loctite them in alignment.

The crash parts are ridiculous.

There's no indication that GMs going to make a car with seats anywhere near as comfy in the foreseeable future.

My read is if you work on it yourself it's not going to be too bad. Until 2015 or so when the model becomes a true 20 y.o. classic, and then at that point I am not sure. Don't know too many classics that are daily drivers. Would make a superb summer cruiser. If I had the space I'd call it a "toy" and pay for a rotisserie cleanup and convertible conversion.
Albertj

Well, I don't like to be told by "corporate America" when I have to stop driving my car... I've always kept my daily-driver forever and a day. Granted, the 1904 Olds is only a parade vehicle, but I did drive my 1981 Eldorado for almost 25 years past the manufacture-date, and if I'd had the money at the time, I would have put a new motor in it (maybe a 472!) and kept driving it... Everyone who rode in it still thought it was tits!

I agree that at some point I/we should stop worrying about mod-parts, and instead start stockpiling wear-parts, like the control arms. Hell, I just finished selling off half a dozen Cadillac parts on eBay, that I still had squirreled away for the Eldo...

And those "crash parts" are why I'm so pissed at the insurance companies that will specify a given dollar-amount for anything else, but not for collision-coverage!

As far as the seats, I'm afraid that the Rivi does not even compare with the Eldo...
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Front Lower Ball Joint Replacement   Wed Apr 28, 2010 11:27 pm

as far as i can tell,the alu control arms also have pressed in bushings. why spend so much $ when all u have to do is take out and install new? jus wonderin?
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Front Lower Ball Joint Replacement   Wed Apr 28, 2010 11:30 pm

So what is your consensus. Hang on to it and stock pile parts or consider that in another 5 years it will be time to get rid of it for next to nothing based on book value.
I know it's hard for you to compare what I'm going through to a degree because I have to pay the body shop annually to fix what the winters take away, for me to keep the body and under carriage up to par.
But mechanically we are talking about the same things.

And, OBTW, I agree about the Eldo seats from that era, as i had one also.
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Front Lower Ball Joint Replacement   Wed Apr 28, 2010 11:43 pm

robotennis61 wrote:
as far as i can tell,the alu control arms also have pressed in bushings. why spend so much $ when all u have to do is take out and install new? jus wonderin?
Robo, I agree. I will figure out a way to find what fits probably and just press in and machine or have some one machine for me what i need regarding the control arms only if they are no longer available. Otherwise I want all new.
They were just an example of many other thing that are going to come up especially in the salt / snow belt.
Hell, I've already paid about $1,000 on all new brake lines and fuel lines over the past two years. That's what this salt does to everything.
I'll expect to have to replace the whole gas tank, based on what I've seen, when the pump goes bad.
I have a pump but need to find a good tank now for that day.
You see what I mean, It's almost like, not exactly like, making a payment on the car when you have to try and think about what will be needed next and when you have to have the expendable money, buy it then or now.???
But I guess that would be the same with any 12 year old car.
So, sell it now and add what cash I can to buy something a couple years old and start over.???
Again, I need a long ride to think this shit over, or just forget about it and go on my merry way until the day comes. Kinda like waiting for your dog to die. Everything has a life limit, even me.


Last edited by Rickw on Wed Apr 28, 2010 11:52 pm; edited 2 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Front Lower Ball Joint Replacement   Wed Apr 28, 2010 11:45 pm

robotennis61 wrote:
as far as i can tell,the alu control arms also have pressed in bushings. why spend so much $ when all u have to do is take out and install new? jus wonderin?

But you have a '95, with 'normal' steel control arms...
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Front Lower Ball Joint Replacement   Wed Apr 28, 2010 11:50 pm

Rickw wrote:
robotennis61 wrote:
as far as i can tell,the alu control arms also have pressed in bushings. why spend so much $ when all u have to do is take out and install new? jus wonderin?
Robo, I agree. I will figure out a way to find what fits probably and just press in and machine or have some one machine for me what i need regarding the control arms.
They were just an example of many other thing that are going to come up especially in the salt / snow belt.
Hell, I've already paid about $1,000 on all new brake lines and fuel lines over the past two years. That's what this salt does to everything.
I'll expect to have to replace the whole gas tank, based on what I've seen, when the pump goes bad.
I have a pump but need to find a good tank now for that day.
You see what I mean, It's almost like, not exactly like, making a payment on the car when you have to try and think about what will be needed next and when you have have to have the expendable money, buy it then/now.
But I guess that would be the same with any 12 year old car.
So, sell it now and add what cash I can to buy something a couple years old and start over.
Again, I need a long ride to think this shit over, or just forget about it and go on my merry way until the day comes. Kinda like waiting for your dog to die. Everything has a life limit, even me.

What I've noticed is that after gettign the car 'under control' maintenance wise, I don't have to spend as much as car payments to keep it going right.

I should do the hard (fuel, brake) lines this year, though.

Albertj
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Front Lower Ball Joint Replacement   Wed Apr 28, 2010 11:53 pm

i do . but even the alu arms have press in bushings. i don't understand the extra expense? just buy new bushings. not much more work.either way you have to drop the arms....
i just ordered the cheapest bushings,all around,that i could find at rock auto. as soon as they come in ,I'm taking them down to my bud who is going to replace the rubber with poly. or ill order some delrin stock and have my buddy with a lathe ,whittle the stock down for my app. how ya like them apples?
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Front Lower Ball Joint Replacement   Thu Apr 29, 2010 12:00 am

Albert, you have already been blessed with over 200K miles before having to replace all the lines / tubing because it is a time replacement thing and not mileage.
I wish I had the need and the means to drive more per year.
Instead I watch things rust and get dented just as much as if I drove twice the mileage.
The dent's come from the damn parking garage at the hospital.
I just had everything done last spring and it was perfect, I pay for perfect, and it needs it again.
Whenever I'm in an open parking lot I intentionally park that 1/4 mile away for exercise and to hopefully prevent another door ding.
But wouldn't you know it there will be a car parked next to mine when I come out, presumably they are trying to avoid dings as well. But it's an SUV or Mini-Van and they will really ding it very high up on the door.
Makes me spitting mad just thinking about it.
Never mind the desire to knife the tires before driving off.
but I am off track here. Sorry.
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Front Lower Ball Joint Replacement   Thu Apr 29, 2010 12:06 am

robotennis61 wrote:
i do . but even the alu arms have press in bushings. i don't understand the extra expense? just buy new bushings. not much more work.either way you have to drop the arms....
i just ordered the cheapest bushings,all around,that i could find at rock auto. as soon as they come in ,I'm taking them down to my bud who is going to replace the rubber with poly. or ill order some delrin stock and have my buddy with a lathe ,whittle the stock down for my app. how ya like them apples?
The bushings and joints do not have a part number for the aluminum arms.
Yes i can press out bushings and have them made out of Delrin or some other non-compliant material and try to match up balljoints but it just isn't worth it right now when you consider cost.
As long as the new control arms, fully dressed, are available that's the way I'll go.
Then maybe take the old ones and try to refurb those.
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Front Lower Ball Joint Replacement   Thu Apr 29, 2010 7:39 am

Rickw wrote:
Albert, you have already been blessed with over 200K miles before having to replace all the lines / tubing because it is a time replacement thing and not mileage.
I wish I had the need and the means to drive more per year.
Instead I watch things rust and get dented just as much as if I drove twice the mileage.
The dent's come from the damn parking garage at the hospital.
I just had everything done last spring and it was perfect, I pay for perfect, and it needs it again.
Whenever I'm in an open parking lot I intentionally park that 1/4 mile away for exercise and to hopefully prevent another door ding.
But wouldn't you know it there will be a car parked next to mine when I come out, presumably they are trying to avoid dings as well. But it's an SUV or Mini-Van and they will really ding it very high up on the door.
Makes me spitting mad just thinking about it.
Never mind the desire to knife the tires before driving off.
but I am off track here. Sorry.

we need to get you a pair of pads, cut from one of those hi density foam sleeping bag pads (they are like $5 at walmart) hung off backpack webbing straps that you can hang out the windows when you are parked in the careless garage.

I wonder if the others using the hospital garage are so infirm, distracted, or so frustrated that they ding others' things.

I'm off track too...

So we were talking about drilling out the ball joint rivets versus grinding then punching them out, and part of the point was that by the time one is replacing ball joints the bushings probably ought to go, too. I don't know about that. Either I was looking at the wrong thing or the bushings on my RIv look OK even after 200+ K miles of wear. Either there is something I (and the dealer mechanic) don't get about checking bushings (this is entirely possible) or there is something about my driving or other maintenance that tends not to flog the bushings, or there is something about the composition of the bushings on my car that defies decomposition (I truly doubt this).

Other than that, drilling out the rivets to replace ball joints still looks like a good option to me if the bushinggs are still good.

Another thing comes to mind - when I've been poking around my car (replacing brake pads for instance) I use a grease gun with a needle end to pump greas into the ball joints. I use that red Mobil synthetic grease. Maybe that stretched the life ocf my ball joints.

So another question might be, have those of you replacing ball joints ever tried to grease them?




I dunno.

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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Front Lower Ball Joint Replacement   Thu Apr 29, 2010 11:30 am

Rickw wrote:
I don't know, am I just getting older and becoming more content with what i have.??
I think its just a buick thing, because any time Ive ever thought about another car right away i think no way in hell am i selling this car. The money i would be able to get for it would be nowhere near what its worth to me. If i ever get another car it will be saving up and getting it, i plan on driving my park avenue into the ground and its only at 92,000 cool

albertj wrote:
So another question might be, have those of you replacing ball joints ever tried to grease them?
That is a good point, I keep my zerk fittings greased as much as I can whether it be the ball joints or tie rods. Even though im only at 92,000, I have yet to replace any bushings/ball joints/ or tie rods, and i have been known to beat the piss out of it every once and a while. I think it might have a lot to do with swerving imperfections in the road too, because I do that everytime I drive, and if Im forced to drive down a bad road then I go like 5mph. That might have something to do with the condition of the bushings depending on how you drive.
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Front Lower Ball Joint Replacement   Thu Apr 29, 2010 2:48 pm

97 park ave wrote:
Rickw wrote:
I don't know, am I just getting older and becoming more content with what i have.??
I think its just a buick thing, because any time Ive ever thought about another car right away i think no way in hell am i selling this car. The money i would be able to get for it would be nowhere near what its worth to me. If i ever get another car it will be saving up and getting it, i plan on driving my park avenue into the ground and its only at 92,000 cool

albertj wrote:
So another question might be, have those of you replacing ball joints ever tried to grease them?
That is a good point, I keep my zerk fittings greased as much as I can whether it be the ball joints or tie rods. Even though im only at 92,000, I have yet to replace any bushings/ball joints/ or tie rods, and i have been known to beat the piss out of it every once and a while. I think it might have a lot to do with swerving imperfections in the road too, because I do that everytime I drive, and if Im forced to drive down a bad road then I go like 5mph. That might have something to do with the condition of the bushings depending on how you drive.

Part of the problem is the OE ball joints don't have zerks. What I was taught was to work a needle under the bottom of the rubber ball joint boot and pump grease in. When you pull out the needle, the boot covers the pinhole. IF there is a problem with this, it's that the needles available at day autozone are not so good, they tend to bend up and break when used like that. And I am usually not around a friendly garage when the snapon guy (who has much better needles) visits.

Albertj
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