Ball Joint Replacement

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Hello,
Mechanic tells me that my 1990 Geo Prizm needs a Lower Ball Joint on Driver side. How do I figure if I really need a ball joint and am not just replacing a good working part?
Thanks,
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If a mechanic tells you your 16 year old car needs a ball joint, it most likely needs a ball joint.
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Steve Mackie wrote:

He posted a month ago with his steering problem and was told it was his ball joints then. He just doesn't want to belive this is happening to him at a million miles. His mechanic was quite conservative in suggesting it needed only the one side. Still not good enough. He asked if it could be tightened or something.
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On Mon, 10 Jul 2006 14:33:01 -0700, nashak wrote:

Fix it before you end up looking like one of those NYC cabbies with the front wheel twisted and stuffed up into the fender.
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On 10 Jul 2006 14:33:01 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

replaced. I procrastinated on my S-10 awhile back and was treated to the excitement of one breaking loose at 70 mph on the interstate. No harm done except for the towing fee - and having to change my pants. That kind of excitement no one needs. I was *very* lucky!!!!!
- Larry A.
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Yeahbut think of the cool story you have to tell over beers...
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-Mike-
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On Tue, 11 Jul 2006 12:49:52 -0400, "Mike Marlow"

True. ;)) On the other hand, it reminds me of the old definition of "adventure" - someone a long ways off, having a hard time.
- Larry A.
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@#@
Get the dam thing changed before you kill someone.
cheap or what?

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Glad to see these $$$ answers.
went to my regular mechanic today. he checked the ball joint and said they were fine. The other shop was just trying to scam me.
if you f$$$ do not have a helpful reply then don't reply at all.
I just wanted to know what are the symptoms of a ball joint going bad. I got all kind of s$$$ answers from s$$$ people but not one reply pertinent to the question.
Go figure..
Raynaud wrote:

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Well, try this... We normally jacked up the car a bit, off the ground, put a bar under the tire, and levered it up and down to check the movement in the joint. There are specifications for permissible movement for your application, I am sure, but I dont know what they are exactly. I dont have a manual on this car.
I have seen cars with bad ball joints go into serious buffeting and vibration in corners. When they break, the whole wheel detaches at this spot and you lose control.
Alignment is impossible with badly worn ball joints, so a number of alignment related symptoms can be expected.
Maybe the first mechanic was trying to scam you, but I suspect he detected looseness in the joint and recommended the change. If he really wanted to scam you, he would have gone for more than one balljoint.
Those joints go for about $45-60 each at Autozone.
You have one yes, one no; why not go to a third opinion?
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snipped-for-privacy@nospam.nix wrote:

Thank you.
Now, these kind of answers I can live with. My concern is that the only symptom I have is that the car makes a sqeaking noise at low speed AND on uneven surface. Now that could be due to any number of reasons. I wanted to know what the symptoms would be if a ball joint is going bad because some of the symptoms that I've come across on the internet - car shaking, making a noise at every bump etc. etc. did not seem to be happening in my case.
Yes, I will be getting a third opinion. As I read in one of the articles, if you apply too much pressure (I think more than 25 psi) you can make nearly any ball joint move as if it has gone bad.
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Noise is another indication sometimes. Looseness in the joint can cause the bumping noise you are referring to.
Squeaking is sometimes (and there are lots of exceptions) a-frame bushings, may be sway bar bushings, and can be wear indicators on disc brake systems. Sometimes the disc brakes just squeak a little.
And you are right that some ball joints show more play than would be normally desirable. IIRC, early Falcon and Mustang ball joints were often replaced when they were within manufacturers specifications. (And this was a measured movement, not a visual evaluation.) Maybe someone here can comment.
Ball joints are not something that you want to ignore IF they are failing. At the age of this car, excessive wear is certainly something to look into. If the cursory search I did at Autozone is correct, this car has upper and lower ball joints on each side. To replace the whole set would run into a few bucks.

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snipped-for-privacy@nospam.nix wrote:

Oh I agree completely. Ball Joints are not to be played with. My concern is that I do not see any symptom of ball joint being bad except the squeaking noise (which could also be caused by bending of rotor, since this squeak dies down as soon as I press my brakes). Hence for a mechanic and some dumb f$$$s on this group to insist it is ball joints and nothing else is sheer stupidity.
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As well, dry ball joints will squeak.
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Well what was the problem?

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Well, you could spend as many years in the trade as your mechanic, and then you'll know. Or you can invest in a school for mechanics. Then you'd know. Or you could quit seeing thieves behind every lamp post while you drive around in a 16 year old car - unable to believe that parts wear out.
Of course you could always just fall for the most common scam of all time - tell an owner that his car needs ball joints...
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Mike Marlow wrote:

You mean to say that you have replaced whatever the mechanic has told you?? Well, it would be interesting to know how many people are on this group that have never disputed a mechanic's opinion, have always taken his word and not even gotten a second opinion. I'll tell you something that you have obviously missed. Look at the postings and you will see people asking for advice all the time and these are not just the DIYs. These are people who have been scammed by "mechanics"....
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I do all of my own work so it's very infrequent that a mechanic tells me what I need to keep my car up. That said, when I don't know about something, I go and ask qualified people. I don't turn around then, and post to a newsgroup, immediately questioning whether I'm getting scammed. Maybe you need to take your car to a mechanic you can trust.
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There is a reason why many people work on their own cars (apart from liking what they do) and that is from your 'qualified' mechanics.
what is wrong in hearing what the mechanic has to say and then asking on the newsgroups? you guys seem to be so offended that I've questioned a mechanic. It might be an old car but I would not want to change a part if nothing is wrong with it and if some people think that it is then they can kiss my a$$ and if some people feel offended that a person has the temerity to question a 'qualified' mechanic then they can also kiss my a$$.
Just bcos you don't turn around and question a mechanic does not make it a norm for everyone to follow. How can you assume that everyone should do the same just bcos you do it that way?
you remind me of george carlin - isn't is surprising that everyone on the road driving slower than you is an idiot and everyone driving faster than you is insane...
thanks but no thanks on your posts. they like many others have not been at all helpful and to the point. Maybe one of these days you will learn to respond to posts rather than attack a person just bcos you don't agree with what others do.
Mike Marlow wrote:

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One of the best things a client and a mechanic could do would be to have a short talk before and after the work. Most mechanics are honest, but some are crooks.
The client has a right to be heard, not just talked down to.
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