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Vertical play in front lower ball joint, bad?


masospaghetti

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98 XLT, OHV, 4D, 4x4, 5M
With the truck jacked up and supported under the frame (weight off the control arm), I can get a pry bar between the control arm and spindle, there is some vertical movement between the two on the driver's side. No movement on the passenger side. I assume this means the ball joint is bad? The boot is intact.

I replaced the entire control arm in 2012 with a AC Delco "professional" arm. I believe it's still warrantied but it's a lot of work to replace it. The alternative would be to press in a new ball joint, not sure which one is more work.

Trying to pin down a popping noise when going over large bumps.

Edit: just got a video of it here.
 


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C420sailor

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Sounds it. Unless the nut wasn’t properly torqued on installation, the only other play can either be in the joint itself or between the joint and the arm.

If the arms are otherwise good, I’d rather press the bad one out and a new one in. Removing the arm kinda sucks. Just me, though.
 




96eb96

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With the truck jacked up and supported under the frame (weight off the control arm), I can get a pry bar between the control arm and spindle, there is some vertical movement between the two on the driver's side. No movement on the passenger side. I assume this means the ball joint is bad? The boot is intact.

I replaced the entire control arm in 2012 with a AC Delco "professional" arm. I believe it's still warrantied but it's a lot of work to replace it. The alternative would be to press in a new ball joint, not sure which one is more work.

Trying to pin down a popping noise when going over large bumps.
A small amount of play - 1/16" or so (from what I heard from Ford) is kinda ok, keep an eye on it. You could put in grease (maybe with a needle fitting). These trucks are very hard on Ball Joints. I grease mine every oil change, even that isn't a guarantee.
 




fast_dave

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@masospaghetti

Just sayin' an observation :)

The side you have vertical movement on - the Driver's Side (left side) - is the infamous "gangster lean side".

Masospaghetti; I know you know this - but as a review for new owners of the Ex.

The "gangster lean" as seen from the back of the Ex - is the tilt of the body towards the left/driver's side.

This is due to the weight of: the battery, a/c compressor, steering column, driver (any time it's driven), and the gas tank ALL being on the Drivers Side (left side).

Added Thought that came to me after going out and running an errand:

I'm sure that when you were underneath on the driver's side with your pry bar, that you you looked to see if any "air space/sunlight" between the BOTTOM of the castle nut, and the Steering Knuckle "landing platform" that it snugs up to.

BUT I'm also willing to wager that since the lower control arm has been installed since 2012 - and 8 years later it just started making noise from this area - this is not the case.

I just wanted to throw it out there as food for thought - Auto 101/breaking down of the issue at hand to it's most basic elements ;)

I think the fastest fix is to just replace the entire lower control arm.
 




J_C

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I did have a popping noise when going over bumps, when rebounding back down from the bump, from lower BJs. What I noticed was that once I started getting the noise, it got worse faster than it began. Granted there is a stretch of road that I drove often that was riddled with potholes at the time.

I suppose it depends on whether you can leave it sitting on jack stands for the period where you've pulled the lower arm and sent it in for warranty replacement, assuming they won't advance ship the replacement, and it's still probably shipping on your dime, and IMO more work to pull the whole arm opposed to just the BJ, especially adding on that you have to seek the replacement, pull it and ship it, then come back later to put the new one on.

Not being able to guess how much USPS shipping for something like that has gone up, not sure if there is much money to be saved by getting a warranty replacement. A Moog from Rock Auto is about $32 delivered.

Edit: Amazon has that Moog for $24, or one for $17 as an Amazon Warehouse item, listed as Used - Like new, that "probably" only has a roughed up box. I'd jump on that while it's available as I've had great results with Amazon Warehouse auto parts.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000C57ZSI/?tag=serious-20


The ACDelco sealed BJ should have a plastic bushing in it opposed to metal on better greaseable BJs, and metal on metal should hold up to bumps/potholes/loads/etc better than plastic, so after mulling over it I'd just replace the BJ. If it had been the original control arm that now has 23 years of bushing wear, it would be a tougher call, leaning towards replacing whole arm but at greater expense.
 




CDW6212R

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Ditto, do the BJ, it shouldn't need an alignment unless other things are worn or have been replaced. The BJ swap with a press is a big deal, go at it patiently and be ready for troubles.
 




J_C

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^ ?? Is a big deal?

I figured I'd have trouble because often I have rusted fasteners to combat during repairs, but it was easier than expected, no sawing or angle grinder involvement.

The main issue I had with lower BJs was just that I wasn't sure if I needed the larger loaner tool BJ kit from Advance Auto, not knowing if the tube in the smaller kit was deep enough, and I didn't have any scraps of pipe of the right diameter. The larger kit is $230, but you get that back when returning it.


I did put the BJs in the freezer for a few hours beforehand to contract them, but then they weren't hard at all to get in so that might not have been needed, though I was reusing the OEM lower control arm, don't know if tolerances are any different for the ACDelco aftermarket.
 




CDW6212R

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Ditto, there are many variables. What can go wrong usually does if you need the car driveable immediately after. I worry about the control arms having a larger than typical hole, so the proper BJ is too loose. Forever we read of over sized BJ's available, a special part number, for rare times, I've never come across that. But it's a concern, people do post about those things on the forums.

I have to do the BJ's in both my latest 92 Lincoln, and my 95 CV. The Lincoln has original BJ's, likely good but the boots are terrible. My CV I installed low mileage CA's(4) back in 2002. I know the mileage of them, 13,700 plus about 30k, so a bad OEM BJ is odd, though they are from a police car, and from a hard front end wreck. I've avoided doing them, because I wasn't ready to have problems, but it's time.
 




masospaghetti

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Hmm, seems like there's no clear winner, one vote for the whole arm and two for the BJ. This was purchased at Rockauto, I think for returns I basically buy a new one, front the money, and send the old one back (cross fingers) and then get money back.

I finally got a video of the play, hopefully this provides a bit of missing context: Youtube Video
 




masospaghetti

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Edit: Amazon has that Moog for $24, or one for $17 as an Amazon Warehouse item, listed as Used - Like new, that "probably" only has a roughed up box. I'd jump on that while it's available as I've had great results with Amazon Warehouse auto parts.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000C57ZSI/?tag=serious-20

That "used" balljoint does look like a good deal, even the new one is cheap. I'm leaning towards that...I'm sure the Moog BJ is higher quality than the Delco one.
 




CDW6212R

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I did have a popping noise when going over bumps, when rebounding back down from the bump, from lower BJs. What I noticed was that once I started getting the noise, it got worse faster than it began. Granted there is a stretch of road that I drove often that was riddled with potholes at the time.

I suppose it depends on whether you can leave it sitting on jack stands for the period where you've pulled the lower arm and sent it in for warranty replacement, assuming they won't advance ship the replacement, and it's still probably shipping on your dime, and IMO more work to pull the whole arm opposed to just the BJ, especially adding on that you have to seek the replacement, pull it and ship it, then come back later to put the new one on.

Not being able to guess how much USPS shipping for something like that has gone up, not sure if there is much money to be saved by getting a warranty replacement. A Moog from Rock Auto is about $32 delivered.

Edit: Amazon has that Moog for $24, or one for $17 as an Amazon Warehouse item, listed as Used - Like new, that "probably" only has a roughed up box. I'd jump on that while it's available as I've had great results with Amazon Warehouse auto parts.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000C57ZSI/?tag=serious-20


The ACDelco sealed BJ should have a plastic bushing in it opposed to metal on better greaseable BJs, and metal on metal should hold up to bumps/potholes/loads/etc better than plastic, so after mulling over it I'd just replace the BJ. If it had been the original control arm that now has 23 years of bushing wear, it would be a tougher call, leaning towards replacing whole arm but at greater expense.

I just bought two more of those Moog lower BJ's, for my Mounty. I replaced all of the CA's about 65k miles ago, and the boots are cracked, all four of them. The top I may have found a urethane boot that could fit, but the bottom I couldn't find anything close.
 




fast_dave

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This was purchased at Rockauto, I think for returns I basically buy a new one, front the money, and send the old one back (cross fingers) and then get money back. I finally got a video of the play, hopefully this provides a bit of missing context: Youtube Video

@masospaghetti
I watched your video - yes - there's your speed bump noise maker.

Although FORD allows very little play in the lower, what you showed in the video was enough to the naked eye to qualify it as a problem that should be fixed.

I voted "replace the whole LCA" because I read you had a AC Delco "Professional" part and I know they have a lifetime warranty (and I've had good experiences with AC Delco "Professional" warranty's AND rebates).

Do yourself a favor and before dropping any cash on a replacement, contact AC DELCO Customer Service, and get their answer as to how THEY want you to handle it/move forward.

Seriously - they might surprise you and be pretty reasonable - in the past they've been good to me :)

Hopefully you saved your sales receipt to show AC Delco that you bought the lower control arm from an AC Delco authorized re-seller.

I know AMAZON and Rock Auto both are authorized re-sellers!

HTH and Good Luck with your AC Delco CS Discussion!
 




fast_dave

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I just bought two more of those Moog lower BJ's, for my Mounty. I replaced all of the CA's about 65k miles ago, and the boots are cracked, all four of them. The top I may have found a urethane boot that could fit, but the bottom I couldn't find anything close.

@CDW212R

Same thing happened to (1) of my MOOG lower ball joints.

As you probably know, MOOG won't sell you JUST a boot...

I did the research, found many guys on FORD forums with the same "Cracked Moog Boot" issue, and found something pretty close/acceptable

When I first put it on, it was a lil' tight fit at first and I wondered if it was going to work, BUT over a month it bellowed out, and it holds grease.

Daystar KU13025BK

I believe I purchased it off of Amazon - HTH!
 




masospaghetti

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@masospaghetti
I watched your video - yes - there's your speed bump noise maker.

Although FORD allows very little play in the lower, what you showed in the video was enough to the naked eye to qualify it as a problem that should be fixed.

I voted "replace the whole LCA" because I read you had a AC Delco "Professional" part and I know they have a lifetime warranty (and I've had good experiences with AC Delco "Professional" warranty's AND rebates).

Do yourself a favor and before dropping any cash on a replacement, contact AC DELCO Customer Service, and get their answer as to how THEY want you to handle it/move forward.

Seriously - they might surprise you and be pretty reasonable - in the past they've been good to me :)

Hopefully you saved your sales receipt to show AC Delco that you bought the lower control arm from an AC Delco authorized re-seller.

I know AMAZON and Rock Auto both are authorized re-sellers!

HTH and Good Luck with your AC Delco CS Discussion!

Luckily it was purchased through RockAuto, so looks like I front the cost of a new part, then send in the return. They cover the shipping of the new part but not the return shipping - that will probably be at least $30.
 




masospaghetti

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Went ahead and ordered that "Used" Moog BJ from Amazon, time to go to Autozone and rent their press tool.
 




masospaghetti

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I took for granted that a loaner ball joint press would be available, but none of the local parts stores have them. I considered buying a nice OTC 7249 kit from Amazon but that would be $127, I could get a crappy kit for about $40 but I don't like crappy tools.

Anyway, in light of having to buy a press to do this job, I am going to warranty out the control arm and replace the whole thing instead.
 




reansor

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With the truck jacked up and supported under the frame (weight off the control arm), I can get a pry bar between the control arm and spindle, there is some vertical movement between the two on the driver's side. No movement on the passenger side. I assume this means the ball joint is bad? The boot is intact.

I replaced the entire control arm in 2012 with a AC Delco "professional" arm. I believe it's still warrantied but it's a lot of work to replace it. The alternative would be to press in a new ball joint, not sure which one is more work.

Trying to pin down a popping noise when going over large bumps.

Edit: just got a video of it here.
Yes, the ball joint should be replaced. It's much easier to replace just the ball joint than the whole control arm. Advance Auto or AutoZone usually have the ball joint press for loan for basically free.
 




J_C

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If the clunk isn't bad yet (my lower left BJ had more play than yours does), I'd wait till whoever has the loaner BJ tool(s) from Advance Auto or Autozone, returns it. I like to avoid Oreilly's as they have a very short return period for loaner tools, something like 48 hrs IIRC. I recall some members here have been able to return their loaner tools to Oreillys after 48hrs but last I checked, it states that right on the receipt so it's a gamble.
 




masospaghetti

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I'm wondering if the stores around here even carry the loaner kits at all, I checked the three closest Autozones and O'reillys and they are all unavailable.
 


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collinstm57

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If you haven't sent the old one back yet, get your return shipping label from Rock. I have found it to be much cheaper that way.
 




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