Ball joints - 1999 Accord

My daughters Honda Accord is a 1999 4 cylinder LX with 100K miles.
Car was purchased used with 80K 1 owner female owned and garage kept car. We knew it would need tires soon. So she kept two and bought two
new ones for front. The garage that put them on told her she needed ball joints. She was going to get them at $66 dollars a piece, but then they said 3 hours labor for a total of about $360. But then they said, well usually we do "Control arms too" and it would be even more money.
So she said, "I'll get a 2nd opinion, and more money before I do the work. Just put on the tires".
Before I help her go get a 2nd opinion, any general knowledge about what is a normal set of wear parts she might need for her front end with 100K? Cost for same?
Thanks in advance for any advice.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Steve L wrote:

Sounds like BS.
Ball joints ARE important, and they do wear out ... eventually. That said, I'd be very surprised if they are in danger of failing. They are protected and sealed by a rubber boot thingy that should not yet be cracking on a 10 year old car. That said, don't discount the ball joints out of hand. If you live in the heart of the rust belt, I suppose it's possible that the rubber has dried out and cracked sooner than expected. Once dirt invades the ball socket, the joint's days are numbered. http://www.allproducts.com/metal/tgq/45-control_arm.html shows the general idea. So long as the boot is intact, the joint will last a LONG time. You can inspect them with little effort. Check Autozone.com for their on-line repair guide. It's not terribly deep, but does offer useful information and will give you some idea what the repair shop is supposedly babbling about. Even IF the boots are cracked, so long as the joint retain some grease, damage may not yet have occurred. You can remove the old boots, wipe and clean the old, possibly contaminated, grease, repack with fresh grease, and install a new boot. (Buy the genuine Honda parts! Cheap aftermarket boots are often made with crap rubber that will break down within a matter of years.) This is a fairly easy DIY project.
As for the 'control arms,' there are several on each wheel. The arms themselves don't wear out, but the rubber bushings that attach them to the chassis and other suspension components can crack and break down. This is a slow process that does not generally create an unsafe condition. As the rubber degrades, the car's handling very slowly becomes more vague. No biggie. Again, 100K/10yrs seem awfully early to be "Doing the control arms."
Any time I have a mechanic poke about, I expect specific information from him. These guys you've found sound suspiciously vague. Between their shifty language and the nominal life of the components, my gut feeling is that they are trying to scam you.
-Moo!
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Steve L wrote:

Get that second opinion unless the rubber boots that keep dirt out of the ball joints are obviously cracked open from age. Somewhat to my surprise, I'll admit, my 1991 Accord's ball joints are still original equipment at 214K miles. In fact, nearly the entire front end is original except for rotors, brake hoses, a couple of axles, and new sway bar bushings. I did replace one of the boots once while replacing an axle because it looked bad.
(It's worth adding that if you plan to use pickle forks to separate the joints at any point you should be prepared to replace the boots. If you're careful you won't have to, but one careless application of that pickle fork and those things will be on Boot Hill. They don't cost much, though.)
Note: I live in the Northeast. I don't know how long the boots last down South.
--
JRE

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I'm in the Northeast too. I'm going to take it to my local, honest/reliable, but not a Honda expert mechanic and have him look it over. I got the feeling this was a place that went looking for something to replace. But my daughter was doing good just coming up with the money for the tires and alignment, never mind all this other stuff.
Thanks guys!
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
september.org:

There's only one sure way of telling if a balljoint is worn or not: Pop the taper and wiggle it by hand (takes all of a few minutes with the CORRECT tool, which is NOT a pickle fork).
If the stud moves with a bit of resistance, the balljoint is still good. If the stud moves with no resistance at all, it's bad. If the stud has actual play in it, then it's REALLY bad.
Testing balljoints that are still hooked up is fraught with uncertainty on account of the load suspensions tend to put on them no matter what position the control arms are in.
--
Tegger

The Unofficial Honda/Acura FAQ
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

The old front tires should tell you whether the front end needs work and what work. Abnormal wear caused by ball joints usually exhibits cupping and more wear in spots on the tire rather than the "around the tire wear" caused by camber or toe maladustment. I would suggest a trip to a reputable tire store and have them "shake down" the front end to check for wear in the ball joints, control arms, tie rod ends, etc.....BTW, contrary to what most of the denizens of this group maintain, some of the NON OEM parts are just as good as Honda's. Moog, for example, makes and excellent product....
DaveD

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Thanks Dave.
Good point about the tire wear, I was actually surprised that they lasted as long as they did and looked like a even wear.. not on one side or the other and no cupping. I'm thinking that they were looking to make fast money, more than make a long term customer.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

My 1999 Accord (made in Japan - VIN starts with "J") needed ball joints at about 130K miles. "Play" exceeded state inspection specifications. My other cars (Honda and Toyota) of similar or more miles have not needed ball joints. I wonder if '99 Accords are prone to this issue.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
ACAR wrote:

I believe it would likely depend on how hard the car is driven and the condition of the roads driven on (e.g. roughness). I had to replace the front ball joints of a '93 Accord at about the same age and mileage.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Motorsforum.com is a website by car enthusiasts for car enthusiasts. It is not affiliated with any of the car or spare part manufacturers or car dealers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.