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Old 04-13-2011, 09:33 AM   #1
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How do you know when ball joints are toast?

After years of having IFS 4x4's I can easily tell when the ball joints are toast by jacking up the vehicle and checking for movement/play. How do you check a solid axle? I had the SMB front end off the ground a while back and checked for play but couldn't detect anything.

The reason I asked is our SMB has developed slop in the steering and has overall handling issues. It wanders all over, especially at speed and at times is almost unmanageable when there are grooves in the pavement.

Things i've tightened and checked:
Steering wheel play has about 1 1/2" of play both on center and off

Track bar was tightened a bit

Front shocks were found loose in lower bushings and tightened.

All steering joints ok, no play or clunks.

I have D rated tires, so that's probably part of the problem.
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Old 04-13-2011, 12:01 PM   #2
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Re: How do you know when ball joints are toast?

Quote:
Originally Posted by saline
After years of having IFS 4x4's I can easily tell when the ball joints are toast by jacking up the vehicle and checking for movement/play. How do you check a solid axle? I had the SMB front end off the ground a while back and checked for play but couldn't detect anything.

The reason I asked is our SMB has developed slop in the steering and has overall handling issues. It wanders all over, especially at speed and at times is almost unmanageable when there are grooves in the pavement.

Things i've tightened and checked:
Steering wheel play has about 1 1/2" of play both on center and off

Track bar was tightened a bit

Front shocks were found loose in lower bushings and tightened.

All steering joints ok, no play or clunks.

I have D rated tires, so that's probably part of the problem.

Have you installed a steering stabilizer?

Usually you jack one tire off the ground and check for play. Grab tire and move it and watch ball joint for play. Could be a more precise way to measure?
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Old 04-13-2011, 02:24 PM   #3
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Re: How do you know when ball joints are toast?

I have developed a bit of play in mine as well over time. I have attributed it to a fair amount of moderate 4-wheeling and the steering box loosening up. It is on my list of things to address. Keep us updated if you find anything.

Phil
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Old 04-13-2011, 02:58 PM   #4
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Re: How do you know when ball joints are toast?

Will do. I also have a dual steering stabilizer setup.
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Old 04-13-2011, 04:19 PM   #5
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Re: How do you know when ball joints are toast?

In my experience, if it says "Sportsmobile" anywhere on the van, it'll need ball joints. Just sprung for Dynatrac units for my '06 w/25k on the clock.

Z
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Old 04-13-2011, 04:37 PM   #6
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Re: How do you know when ball joints are toast?

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Originally Posted by Zeta
In my experience, if it says "Sportsmobile" anywhere on the van, it'll need ball joints. Just sprung for Dynatrac units for my '06 w/25k on the clock.

Z
How did you know it needed ball joints?
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Old 04-13-2011, 05:02 PM   #7
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Re: How do you know when ball joints are toast?

Quote:
Originally Posted by saline
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeta
In my experience, if it says "Sportsmobile" anywhere on the van, it'll need ball joints. Just sprung for Dynatrac units for my '06 w/25k on the clock.

Z
How did you know it needed ball joints?
I had it in for an alignment where they showed me the play in them while the weight of the rig was off the front axle. Lots of play in the lowers.

Z
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Old 04-29-2011, 04:43 PM   #8
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Re: How do you know when ball joints are toast?

Have you seen my post about the steering arm? My front end had the same slop characteristics you describe and I believe we were real close to an absolute catastrophe. Having someone turning the steering wheel back and forth while you scrutinize the front end components is a must if you haven't done so already. A front end shop I used to trust missed it completely.

viewtopic.php?f=39&t=6585
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Old 05-03-2011, 06:31 AM   #9
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Re: How do you know when ball joints are toast?

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Originally Posted by Cali Native
Have you seen my post about the steering arm? My front end had the same slop characteristics you describe and I believe we were real close to an absolute catastrophe. Having someone turning the steering wheel back and forth while you scrutinize the front end components is a must if you haven't done so already. A front end shop I used to trust missed it completely.

viewtopic.php?f=39&t=6585
Thanks, after I saw your post the first time I went out and checked the arm on mine.Seeing how loose yours was scared the poo out of me. It's tight with no signs of movement. Everything else is tight under there from what I can see and feel. This leads me to the possibility of bad ball joints.

So anyone done their own ball joint replacement? I have changed ball joints on several IFS rigs, but no solid axles.
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Old 05-03-2011, 08:50 AM   #10
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Re: How do you know when ball joints are toast?

Quote:
Originally Posted by saline
So anyone done their own ball joint replacement? I have changed ball joints on several IFS rigs, but no solid axles.

If it were me I would upgrade to these if you can.
http://www.dynatrac.com/products_pro...alljoints.html
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