Eric Van De Vens Blog

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The “Ball-Joint Blitz”

I know this blog generally concentrates on my attempt to run a few races in Disney or weight training, but on occasion, things come up! This would be one of those occasions!

After hearing a “clunking” sound coming from the Durango after making a tight turn, I decided to take a peek to see what might be causing this. Being a former mechanic, I suspected that the ball joints were failing. And, I was right!

Drivers side

Passenger side

I have done several ball-joint replacements in my mechanic days, but, figured it would be easier to pay someone to do this. After getting several estimates, all in the $500.00-$600.00 range, I decided to do a little investigating as to why this was so expensive.

Back in my mechanic days, a good friend and shop owner, Ben Tannenbaum, said once, actually many times, while working on a Chrysler product, “Chrysler strikes again”! I remember one incident in particular when this occurred. It was the three-hour alignment on the Dodge Magnum I owned.

Seems Chrysler likes to make things as difficult as possible! The Durango is another example.

The reason that the estimates were so much, was that Chrysler, in their infinite wisdom, incorporated the ball-joints into the upper control arm and the replacement ball-joints come with a new control arm! Standard ball joint cost:$10.00. Cost of new control arm: $120.00! I looked around and found two upper control arms, as there is only one that fits both sides, for $90.00 from Rock Auto. Already saved $150.00! These were made by Moog and are pretty stout pieces. The originals were aluminum and these are iron.

Now, on to the task.

First, I loosened up all of the lug nuts on all of the wheels as it is time to rotate the tires. Next, I jacked up the front end and placed two jack stands under the front k-member.

Next, time to remove the old upper control arms (uca). According to several sources, removal of the brake line bracket is necessary on the driver’s side. It isn’t. I first marked the flat side of the uca bolts, then removed the nuts. Next, I loosened the ball-joint nut and then, using a ball joint removal fork, separated the ball joint, partially, from the rotor assembly. Then, after placing a jack under the lower control arm, hit the old ball joint a few times with a hammer and the ball joint “popped” out of the bracket on the rotor. I removed the front uca bolt and then, pivoting the rear portion of the uca, pulled out the bolt.

I just reversed the procedure to install the new uca. I made sure to line up the nut and bolt, fairly close to the original position.

I then put the wheels on and the driver’s side was done.

On to the passenger side.

I thought this side would be easier as the brake hose bracket isn’t on this side. Unfortunately, this is the side where I had to use my left hand to do everything, which made things a little difficult. Having not had to do this type of work since the brake rotor swap last year, I forgot how hard it is! I repeated the procedure on the passenger side:

Marking the bolts.

Removing the old uca.

New uca installed.

All done!

This was a lot easier than I thought it would be, which is rare! Total time, roughly two hours using hand tools. Cost, $90.00 for two ucas, $60.00 for a new set of metric wrenches from Sears.

I have an appointment for an alignment tomorrow morning, which is free as I got the “lifetime” alignment when I purchased the new tires at the beginning of the year. I also changed the serpentine belt as well as the air filter.

All in all, a productive morning!

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September 20, 2012 - Posted by | Home | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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