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Old 12-07-2017, 10:50 PM   #1
Sixball
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Causes of broken ball joints

This is the second time on TWO different trucks I've broken a ball joint and left both trucks sitting on the frame.

First was my 94 GMC 1/2 ton stock height. It was my daily driver. Mostly in town. Steering got stiff right after new tires were mounted. Drove it 10 miles, and luckily in a parking lot at 5 MPG it snapped (drivers side) and shoved the wheel up under the fender.

Second time was on my 1995 Silverado 1/2 Ton that is lowered 4 inches. In my driveway at 3 MPH, it snappec and shoved the front tire up the fender (driver side). Kinda scary if it happened at speed. What causes this ?
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Old 12-08-2017, 07:53 AM   #2
95 S_Trucker
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Re: Causes of broken ball joints

Does your state have annual inspections? If they don't, YOU need to check out your steering and suspension every year. Stuff wears out. Nothing lasts forever.

Did the ball come out of the socket? Or did the stud shear?
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Old 12-09-2017, 11:50 AM   #3
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Re: Causes of broken ball joints

yeah just gotta shake down the front end every once and a while depending on how far you drive. my 1990 with 225k on it still has the original ball joints in it, its amazing theres no play in them yet. today im throwing my winter tires on it so ill be sure to inspect everything
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Old 12-09-2017, 04:17 PM   #4
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Re: Causes of broken ball joints

I've never lost a ball joint or known anyone who has.
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Old 12-10-2017, 06:22 PM   #5
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Re: Causes of broken ball joints

OEM ball joints have no lube fittings ( well, in my '88 - they may have added them later on in newer trucks)

I had an upper fall off while parking, back in 2001. ( couldn't find what that squeek was)... soon found out !!

I just replaced EVERYTHING on my front suspension & steering 2 weeks ago. Including upper control arms, etc.

Truck feels like showroom!!

The ball joint tends to fail completely when the most stress is forcing it sideways, as in a parking maneuver .
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Old 12-26-2017, 12:37 AM   #6
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Re: Causes of broken ball joints

I had a ball joint to fail as I was getting off the interstate. One scary ride. Luckily my truck didn't suffer any damage. If it would have failed just moments sooner it could have been catastrophic as I was running 70 mph. I had some symptoms prior to failure including stiffness in steering and a pronounced squeak from front end. After getting truck home and replacing all the ball joints,I discovered that the broken one had no grease in it. Another thing I found is that sometimes if u run grease fitting all the way in no to very little grease goes in. Hope this helps.
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Old 12-26-2017, 08:35 AM   #7
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Re: Causes of broken ball joints

This is caused by lack of maintenance. Jack truck up and check for play a couple times a year to prevent this. Typically play at 12 and 6 means bearing or ball joints, play at 3 and 9 means tie rod end or other steering link, and play in all directions is wheel bearing. I grease every other oil change. My '92 K3500 went 335k on all original steering except idler arm that wore out every 80-90k. And that was with 285/75-16s and was a loaded work truck it's whole life
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Old 12-26-2017, 03:02 PM   #8
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Re: Causes of broken ball joints

Quote:
Originally Posted by special-K View Post
This is caused by lack of maintenance. Jack truck up and check for play a couple times a year to prevent this. Typically play at 12 and 6 means bearing or ball joints, play at 3 and 9 means tie rod end or other steering link, and play in all directions is wheel bearing. I grease every other oil change. My '92 K3500 went 335k on all original steering except idler arm that wore out every 80-90k. And that was with 285/75-16s and was a loaded work truck it's whole life
yeah same, grease fittings are a wonderful thing its a shame they got rid of them on pretty much every new car. my 1990 with 225k still has original rivited in ball joints and dont have a hair of play.... tie rods might be original as they are pretty rusty looking. but idler does get changed out once and a while. just have to check them every few months or so
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Old 12-27-2017, 11:18 AM   #9
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Re: Causes of broken ball joints

I would grease mine every other oil change. It was ready for ball joints at 335k when the engine went. I was going to buy loaded upper control arms and slap them on. I figured at 22 years old the bushings could use being replaced. That's next on my '95 K2500 Suburban w/170k. I replaced the idler arm and pitman and still have play in ball joints. I guess previous owners didn't maintain as well as I had expected being a fleet maintained county sheriff K9 unit. But evidence of lack of maintenance has already shown elsewhere.
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Old 01-02-2018, 07:36 PM   #10
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Re: Causes of broken ball joints

Listen for that loud squeak.... fix it right away.
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