How to tell if front end needs rebuilt

I have a 1996 silverado 4x4. It has 356,000 miles, so I know it has its pro blems. I have done all the work on it myself since I have had it.
I noticed the drivers side tire wearing on one edge and also it has pulled for awhile slightly to the right.
I scheduled an appointment at Midas to have the front end aligned. I got a call saying they could not do the alignment becasue I needed new left side ball joints, pitman arm, and idler arm. To my shick, the price was going to be 900 bucks!
Well, I did not have it done there. I am wondering first, when I asked what they meant by "left side" they told me the drivers side. WHich is odd beca sue the tire that was wearing was on the passanger side.
Second, how can I tell at home if this is indeed what is wrong and the part s I have are bad? I know with the mileage on this truck they probably are. I just want to make sure any parts I replace are indeed bad. Also, is it ok to replace parts on one side and not the other? My plan was to try to get another truck before all this but they are expensive. This is my daily driv er so until I can find a good deal on a used one, I will be driving it. It has an intake leak right now I am going to fix this weekend.
If these parts are indeed bad, are replacements hard to do at home? I have done just about everything else on a car but have never messed with the fro nt end. The guy at midas told me they would have to take out the "drive gea r" dince it is a 4x4. I think what he meant was the steering gear but not s ure.
From what I understand, the hardest part is getting the old parts off.
Anyway I appreciate any help!
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On Nov 6, 8:35 am, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

roblems. I have done all the work on it myself since I have had it.

d for awhile slightly to the right.

a call saying they could not do the alignment becasue I needed new left sid e ball joints, pitman arm, and idler arm. To my shick, the price was going to be 900 bucks!

at they meant by "left side" they told me the drivers side. WHich is odd be casue the tire that was wearing was on the passanger side.

rts I have are bad? I know with the mileage on this truck they probably are . I just want to make sure any parts I replace are indeed bad. Also, is it ok to replace parts on one side and not the other? My plan was to try to ge t another truck before all this but they are expensive. This is my daily dr iver so until I can find a good deal on a used one, I will be driving it. I t has an intake leak right now I am going to fix this weekend.

e done just about everything else on a car but have never messed with the f ront end. The guy at midas told me they would have to take out the "drive g ear" dince it is a 4x4. I think what he meant was the steering gear but not sure.

I'd get a second opinion. Midas wouldn't be my first choice either. I've heard too many horror stories about the Midas in our area from their employees (i used to sell them parts). I prefer independent shops myself.
I can tell you your ball joints will have to be pressed in/out
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

All common wear items on those trucks. Especially the idler arm and pitman.
The ball joints on the 4X4 are also a PIA

Normal. The idler arm is at fault for that. It allows the tires to shift around at will, the road crown will cause you problems with a bad idler.

I would replace ALL the front end parts with new. That way you don't start chasing wear. Plus since you need to pull about half of the stuff apart to work on the other parts it is just as easy to do it all.

They are not hard to DIY. Upper ball joints need to have the rivets drilled out and the new ones bolt in. Lower ones press out and new ones press in. (Manual tool is not hard to use and can be borrowed from most auto parts places.) Idler arm is a bolt on that requires a pickle fork to separate it from the other parts. I would replace the idler arm AND the pivot for it.

Usually IF you're in a rust area.

Parts prices depend on the exact model you have.
I know it's a 1996 K1500 What engine and does it have a tow package?
--
Steve W.

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With 356,000 miles nothing else makes sense to me, other than getting a newer truck.
I think it would be a rare '96 worth throwing $2.5-3K at. -----
- gpsman
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On Tue, 6 Nov 2012 05:35:03 -0800 (PST), snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

saying they could not do the alignment becasue I needed new left side ball joints, pitman arm, and idler arm. To my shick, the price was going to be 900 bucks!

they meant by "left side" they told me the drivers side. WHich is odd becasue the tire that was wearing was on the passanger side.

have are bad? I know with the mileage on this truck they probably are. I just want to make sure any parts I replace are indeed bad. Also, is it ok to replace parts on one side and not the other? My plan was to try to get another truck before all this but they are expensive. This is my daily driver so until I can find a good deal on a used one, I will be driving it. It has an intake leak right now I am going to fix this weekend.

just about everything else on a car but have never messed with the front end. The guy at midas told me they would have to take out the "drive gear" dince it is a 4x4. I think what he meant was the steering gear but not sure.

If you DIY, you really have to look at this closely, with a shop manual. But that might not mention "tricks" you can use. You can find out how to check wear on the net. Easier on a rack. Important to do that. Back in the day when I was totally green I ignored a funny feeling over bumps in my '67 VW squareback. Lower right joint broke doing 35mph down a city street, and pulled me right into an empty bus stop, wheel sideways. I was incredibly lucky. I still wonder how my life would have changed if I wiped out 5 people. Had that towed home and bought my first pickle fork, and replaced the joints on the street. But it was a tinker toy. The other I've done was my '78 Chevy Beauville, which I think was a ton and a half chassis. But it was 2wd and coil springs/shocks in front. My mech brother said he would drop by while I was pulling the old joints, and he used my 10 lb sledge to pop them out real quick. I was a little shocked when he started whaling away, thinking he would bend/break the steering knuckle. Didn't. Only did the lowers, both sides, and the all the tie rods/ends. There were no rivets, and the new joints didn't need pressing, That van had only about 100k miles on it. I used a stick to adjust the toe-in. My son did the lowers, and tie rod ends on my '97 Lumina at the shop he works at as a suspension mech a couple years ago. I think I spent $200 just for the joints and ends at the parts store, but they were Moog joints and ran about 50 each. I bought a common brand but much cheaper ends because they looked better than the Moogs. All voodoo, of course. Then he took the car to a Just Tires he used to work at for the alignment, because he liked their machine better than the one in his shop, which was giving them trouble and about to be replaced. Think that was another 50. I gave my son 300, but I'm generous with him and that was probably way over shop rates. But no profit for the shop either. Probably took him 1-2 hours on the rack. That one has riveted joints, and bolt-on replacements. . Anyway, I spent +500 for just 2 lowers and the ends. Maybe I bought new tie rods, can't remember. So $900 doesn't sound bad given what you need. Just shop a couple more places and you'll know if the price is fair. What I question is doing only one side with that many miles on the truck. Seems you should do both sides.. Whether you DIY is up to you. Consider the learning curve in the time it will take, special tools, etc. I never discourage DIY, but you have to look at it hard, especially if you can't have the car down long. If the truck is a keeper - no rusting - it's always cheaper keeping it going than buying new or used. With used you could end up right where you started on that suspension, and poorer. My son will call later when he's off work, and I'll ask him. I'm sure he knows every bit of that Silverado, because he does trucks all day, every day. And I know he will cuss about Siverados, because I've heard it more than once.
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On Tue, 06 Nov 2012 10:59:47 -0600, Vic Smith

Here's what my son said basically, just from recall so it might not be exact. Says $900 is good ballpark for one side. A rebuild with all joints, arms, rods ends can run $2-3k. Says he likes to do both sides, but if one side is good save your money. You can do it later if you need it.
There's a few setups he knows. depends if 1500, 2500, 3500. round control arm has riveted uppers. ss control arm has pressed uppers. pitman arm sometimes cut out, but depends. swing gearbox toward back. sometimes have to move center link out of the way. book calls for removing gearbox, but not necessary. use a press to extract if pressed uppers. can't remember the name. C-press maybe. mechanical screw. lowers pound out with hammer, press back in. again mechanical press. some joints require loc-tite. leave cv shaft in but remove nut from spindle and tie up or wedge shaft on top of sway bar.
Just some rough notes. Get the manual or have a pro do it.
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On Wednesday, November 7, 2012 5:31:02 PM UTC-6, Vic Smith wrote:

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On 11/06/2012 08:35 AM, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

At that mileage, you probably do need new parts. I would probably look into having replaced all of the ball joints, tie rod ends, and anything having to do with the steering linkage from the pitman arm out (I'm assuming a recirculating-ball type box as used on the older trucks.) Actually from your list above, it sounds like the only things they *haven't* listed are the TREs, center link, and pass side ball joints, so it's not that much more work to do it all.
If you plan on keeping this truck for a while, buy QUALITY parts... I don't know who the good vendors are these days. Useta be Moog, but I've heard them getting badmouthed for being not much better than the Chinese imports lately. Maybe ask on a Chevy truck forum, ask the off-roaders who they use. Spicer still has a good name among Jeep guys but I don't know if they make front end stuff for your truck.
It might be a PITA job especially if you do not have a press (I'm not sure if the BJs are pressed, screw in, bolt on, other? on your truck) or whatever special tools you may need, might want to check with a good local indy mechanic and get another quote on a full front end job. Sadly, I don't know that $900 is that out of line because the shop that I trust to work on my stuff is about $100 an hour. This is why I still do what I can myself :(
It might be time to have a good hard look at the condition of the body and the engine/tranny - if the body is rusty or you're starting to smoke/burn oil/slip, it might be about that time to consider trading up.
good luck,
nate
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Yea, the problem is that a low mileage king cab 4x4 or 4 door 4x4 what I really want, is mega bucks. I found a 2006 four door black f-150 I absolutly loved, but it was 11,900 and had 147,000 miles. I really liked it though.
On Tuesday, November 6, 2012 12:37:26 PM UTC-6, Nate Nagel wrote:

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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

I would have the control arm bushings replaced at the same time. It is difficult to do at home but you can take the parts off and take them to a shop with a press. Have a shop do the bushings and ball joints at the same time. Save yourself some money.
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