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Old 08-08-2009, 07:06 PM   #1
rileygsp
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Default Replace Ball Joints?

Just got new tires on my 95 Saturn SL1 and the shop told me the reccommend an alignment because one of the old tires was wearing bad. I didn't notice this myself but I have no reason not to believe the guy. They don't do alignments at this place so he wasn't trying to sell me a service. My question is this.... should I replace the ball joints first? There is 150,000 miles and the ball joints are original and its never had an alignment. My goal is to get this car to 200,000 miles before I sadly part ways with it. I would like these tires to last that length of time. Is it common for ball joints to last the life of the saturn? Sorry for the long post.

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Old 08-08-2009, 08:16 PM   #2
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Default Re: Replace Ball Joints?

I just replaced my ball joints today. My car has 187k on it and what might have been original ball joints. I had a terrible clunk when I'd driver over a bump and I tried fixing it by replacing struts, strut towers, 3 motor mounts and a tranny mount. The clunk got better but then got worse again after a month. I finally replaced the ball joints today and my problem is FIXED.

These are easy to replace.

Prices:
Autozone - $73
Carquest - $99
Advance - $68

I went with the advance auto ones. I've never done anything with ball joints before and it took me 2.5 hours total. Look up how to replace them in the how-to forum and then watch the video by Richpin and you'll be set.

While you're in there you might think about new tie-rod ends. They are about $40 each but are probably due and you might as well get it all good before the alignment (something I didn't do).

Good luck

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Old 08-08-2009, 09:22 PM   #3
MikeNW
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Default Re: Replace Ball Joints?

(the ball joints are integral with the control arm, you have to buy a new control arm)

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Old 08-08-2009, 10:03 PM   #4
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Default Re: Replace Ball Joints?

Before I replaced my first set of lower control arms (with ball joints) and out tie rod ends my now closed dealer quoted me a price near $900. I was able to buy all parts for $100 on ebay at this link http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Ball-...d=p3911.c0.m14 from a seller named arm_can. I have put these parts into 3 Saturns now and am happy so far. The oldest car has had them in a year now without any problems.

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Old 08-08-2009, 10:09 PM   #5
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Default Re: Replace Ball Joints?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeNW View Post
(the ball joints are integral with the control arm, you have to buy a new control arm)
Yea, LCA and ball joints are the same thing on our cars.

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Old 08-08-2009, 10:54 PM   #6
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Default Re: Replace Ball Joints?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rileygsp View Post
Is it common for ball joints to last the life of the saturn? Sorry for the long post.
no. ball joints wear out eventually and you need to replace the lower control arms. i've replaced them once on my 02 sc2 in 120,000 miles.

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Old 08-09-2009, 12:09 AM   #7
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Default Re: Replace Ball Joints?

Check the ball joints by prying against them with a pry bar. In order to perform the test properly, you must first raise the car. If there is any play, the ball joints must be replaced.

It's possible that the ball joints will fail before the 200k mark, but unless you have an extra $300 to spend on two LCAs and two outer tie rod ends, it doesn't make much sense to replace them now.

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Old 08-09-2009, 08:48 AM   #8
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Default Re: Replace Ball Joints?

I haven't really got a straight answer yet. I'm leaning towards doing nothing because my last set of tires lasted near 80,000 miles with minimal uneven wearing. Am I crazy trying to milk the balljoints for 200,000 miles plus?

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Old 08-09-2009, 08:51 AM   #9
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Default Re: Replace Ball Joints?

By the way, I love my Saturn and everything but the guy who posted above who owns 6 Saturns has got to be a slight nutjob.

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Old 08-09-2009, 09:29 AM   #10
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Default Re: Replace Ball Joints?

Wife + me + 4 kids driving = 6 Saturns, what's so nutty about that? I buy all my filters in bulk (air, oil, tranny, gas), have extra brake pads and rotors on a shelf that I buy when on sale or with rebates, have a supply of NGK spark plugs, go to the pull your own junkyard and have a back-up supply of nearly new starters, alternators, and compressors because I pull them when it's not an emergency. They're cheap to insure and best of all I know how to fix them (or get the advice here) . Fix something once and I know how to fix it on all the others. Now my son's girlfriend and daughter's fiance have both bought Saturns because they're so reliable (and free oil changes at my house ). And the advantage of having 6 different car model/manufacturers is ????? Besides I was hoping to star in a Saturn commercial some day

...
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Old 08-09-2009, 09:32 AM   #11
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Default Re: Replace Ball Joints?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rileygsp View Post
I haven't really got a straight answer yet. I'm leaning towards doing nothing because my last set of tires lasted near 80,000 miles with minimal uneven wearing. Am I crazy trying to milk the balljoints for 200,000 miles plus?
Try prying against them as the poster above suggested. Do you have any thumping when you go over a bump? My thumping was bothering me enough that I wanted a better ride out of my saturn. My ball joints were SHOT at 187k. Once they were off the car, I could move them with my pinkie finger they were so gone.

Do you know how to do the replacement? If so, you'd probably get a better ride out of ~$250 and a sunday morning. It sounds like you want to keep your saturn, and it's not a car you want to drive with until it dies putting no money into it.

Here's a pic of my old ones. Note how the rubber thing that the sway bar end goes through was completely broken.

Your call on if you want to do it. I think the consensus is if they're shot and/or you're getting a thumping over bumps go ahead and replace them. You'll be happy you did.
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Old 08-09-2009, 09:36 AM   #12
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Default Re: Replace Ball Joints?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Growser View Post
Wife + me + 4 kids driving = 6 Saturns, what's so nutty about that? I buy all my filters in bulk (air, oil, tranny, gas), have extra brake pads and rotors on a shelf that I buy when on sale or with rebates, have a supply of NGK spark plugs, go to the pull your own junkyard and have a back-up supply of nearly new starters, alternators, and compressors because I pull them when it's not an emergency. They're cheap to insure and best of all I know how to fix them (or get the advice here) . Fix something once and I know how to fix it on all the others. Now my son's girlfriend and daughter's fiance have both bought Saturns because they're so reliable (and free oil changes at my house ). And the advantage of having 6 different car model/manufacturers is ????? Besides I was hoping to star in a Saturn commercial some day
I salute you! ALthough, Growser I do think it's a bit nutty you don't own AT LEAST ONE SW

Besides, I've got two SW2s and it's only me. I guess that makes me even more of a nutjob. Haha. When I first got my 1996 SW2 back in 2007 with 155k my friends all thought I was crazy that I was so excited about it. Hell, I even call my mom and tell her about my success on DIY repairs and maintenance that I do. These cars are so cheap to register (I think I paid $62) and insure. The parts are easy to find and any problems get diagnosed by the knowledgable people on this forum.

Any other saturn nutjobs on this site???

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Old 08-09-2009, 09:43 AM   #13
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Default Re: Replace Ball Joints?

On two of my older Saturns (94 and 97) I did the lower control arms and outer ties before they had 140,000 miles on them, another at 175,000, and another has 225,000 on it and haven't touched them yet. Depends on the car. What's an alignment going to cost and what will it cost to replace 4 tires if they are wearing funny? After doing what the previous posts suggest also look at the joints. If the rubber is cracked or torn replace them. If in doubt replace them before the alignment.

rileygsp you don't mention where you're from. Road salt does take it's toll on these parts, and that makes a difference. When I replaced the parts on my 94 everything was thoroughly rusted and I even had to cut off the LCA to cradle bolts (which by the was is a PIA) and ended up taking an entire weekend. When I did my 2002 everything came apart easily and it was done in an afternoon.

On a side note these same bolts were incredibly expensive at the dealer. Find a pull your own junk yard for replacements.

...
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Last edited by Growser; 08-09-2009 at 09:56 AM..

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Old 08-09-2009, 09:48 AM   #14
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Default Re: Replace Ball Joints?

A SW is on my shopping list. Just haven't found one yet that I like. I'm putting an engine in the 93 sitting in the drive today, and if all goes well plan on selling it and finding a SW. I've bid on a couple SW's at local auctions, but I'm frugal abet even cheap at times. Just looking for the right deal.

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Old 08-09-2009, 10:25 PM   #15
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Default Re: Replace Ball Joints?

"Am I crazy trying to milk the balljoints for 200,000 miles plus?"

No, it's all how you drive. If you take each curve at high speed, like you're in Formula 1, hit every pot hole, etc. everything including ball joints will wear out sooner.

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Old 08-10-2009, 10:17 AM   #16
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Default Re: Replace Ball Joints?

Thanks again for the advice. Salt is working against me, I live in Minnesota and there are many days in January that the roads appear to be white. The ride is good, and like I said the last tires lasted 80,000 miles and they weren't wearing that unevenly. I plan on getting this car to at least 200,000 (150,000 right now) and I don't plan on doing it cheaply. Since I found this forum I have done brakes, idler pulley, serpentine belt, upper and lower radiator hoses, ECTS, starter just to name a few. Went from a DIY oil changer to a certified mechanic with the advice I've found. I would like the challenge of ball joints but from what it sounds its going to be kinda expensive even if I do it myself. Some day when I'm bored I'll pry against the ball joints but I am leaning towards doing nothing.

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Old 08-10-2009, 11:31 AM   #17
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Default Re: Replace Ball Joints?

One thing no one has mentioned, and I don't want to put a scare into you, is that a failed ball joint at highway speeds means serious trouble.
If there is enough play in them to cause tire wear, change them.
Having a wheel come loose is rare but does and will happen if the ball fails.
Look at how the suspension functions, that little ball joint is the only thing holding that whole structure in place.

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Old 08-10-2009, 05:23 PM   #18
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Default Re: Replace Ball Joints?

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/CONTR...Q5fAccessories

This is what I got for the turbo car.

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Old 08-10-2009, 06:40 PM   #19
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Default Re: Replace Ball Joints?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rileygsp View Post
Thanks again for the advice. Salt is working against me, I live in Minnesota and there are many days in January that the roads appear to be white. The ride is good, and like I said the last tires lasted 80,000 miles and they weren't wearing that unevenly. I plan on getting this car to at least 200,000 (150,000 right now) and I don't plan on doing it cheaply. Since I found this forum I have done brakes, idler pulley, serpentine belt, upper and lower radiator hoses, ECTS, starter just to name a few. Went from a DIY oil changer to a certified mechanic with the advice I've found. I would like the challenge of ball joints but from what it sounds its going to be kinda expensive even if I do it myself. Some day when I'm bored I'll pry against the ball joints but I am leaning towards doing nothing.
It really isn't that expensive. I replaced both of mine @ 205,000 miles recently. It wouldn't pass inspection w/o replacement.
$41 for one, shipping included from Rockauto.com....although the ebay listing above is an even better price as you may as well do tie rods.
Salt can make things harder...one side the cradle bolt slide right out, the other took over an hour. Use lots of PB blaster (or whatever) and let sit overnight if you can.

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Old 08-12-2009, 11:05 PM   #20
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Default Re: Replace Ball Joints?

I had a bad experience replacing a lower control arm. Seems that the bolt connecting the arm to the cradle was bent a tad. Nothing I tried would get it out further than a little bit. It even turned more or less freely. I ended up with an angle grinder cutting through the control arm and bolt together. I found a replacement bolt at a local specialty hardware store that the dealer actually recommended. It was about $1.

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