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Replaced ball joints

Rustys

Well-Known Member
#1
After they replace the ball joints should they not also preform an alignment?

They said it was not needed after the tow was aligned or adjusted forgot which was stated. I should not put my stering natural position and make a right turn. To much of one to say drift to the right. Then again some time I can put the stearing to Neutral and it goes straight.

Now when I took it to them to have the ball joints (upper and lower) replaced I did ask if they did the alingment. No they took it to Big-O tire to have it preformed. When I took it back they hooked it to a machine and told me that it shows the alingment to be correct.

Then why do I have to drive with the stearing wheel like I am making a left turn to go straight?
 

Lord Chance

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#2
Rustys, your question depends on the make and model of vehicle you drive. Usually an alignment is not necessary after a ball joint replacement because the length of the tie rod does not change. If the upper and lower A-arm assemblies are removed then it would be necessary to reset the castor and camber but the removal is rarely done these days. Your problem may be due to tire wear. Also have the inner and outer bearings in the hub assembly checked for wear. One more thing. Make sure the tires are properly inflated and balanced. :)
 

veeg

Live Long And Eat Bacon
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#3
If your car is already in alignment,then it is possible to replace the ball joints without an alignment as long as you got the steering turn straight forward and keep the tires/front end,rotors in place during the repair..Looks like to me that would have tried to sell this point for more money..At any rate it would have cost money if it was included or not ...
 

Cameldung

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#4
When replacing suspension ball joints it is not mandatory to check wheel alignment, but it would be prudent to do so. Say the wheel alignment may have been corrected at an earlier time with worn ball joints, or the replacement ball joints were from a different manufacturer. There could be other aspects to this also, but before a "accurate" comment be made it would be necessary to know the type of suspension system we are talking about here, eg McPherson strut, or unequal length control arms? Yes it would be possible to alter "toe" by fitting alternate ball joints. Caster and Camber are often not adjustable, and require brute force, or modifications to provide adjustment.

If as you say the steering wheel is not centered in the straight ahead position, and it has occurred after the ball joints were fitted, then yes there is a difference now in the alignment angles.

Not to labour a point but is the terminology here "Ball joints" referring to suspension, or as often named steering "ball joints"?

Should you wish to advise the suspension type, and confirm if the discussion is about "suspension or steering" ball joints I can give a more accurate response for you?
 

Cameldung

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#6
Hope you dont mind me responding? The toe adjustment (either in or out) is made at the tie rod after other adjustments (if any) to correct other suspension/steering angles. Its been a long while since shims were used but a common method to adjust Caster and Camber was to alter the mounting points of the upper arm (in a short arm long arm system) as per the pics

k14-1011ae.jpg

More commonly a cam or slotted arrangement does the same thing.

80d3343d.gif

14050_288_1.jpg

The lower control arm may have similar cam type adjustments also, like Ford (and others) persisted with for years.

mump-1212-12-o_mustang-front-end-alignment_upper-control-arm-shims.jpg

This was an awful setup, as this early picture shows that there is no crossmember joining the opposite side lower arm mounting sides together, allowing them to flex like crazy, meaning the alignment would alter "on the fly". Also a slight brush with a kerb would move them.

There are other adjustment methods for these systems but the above are most common.
 

Rustys

Well-Known Member
#8
Rustys, your question depends on the make and model of vehicle you drive. Usually an alignment is not necessary after a ball joint replacement because the length of the tie rod does not change. If the upper and lower A-arm assemblies are removed then it would be necessary to reset the castor and camber but the removal is rarely done these days. Your problem may be due to tire wear. Also have the inner and outer bearings in the hub assembly checked for wear. One more thing. Make sure the tires are properly inflated and balanced.
Been away for a bit. What I know about this type of stuff (out side of fluids and tires) you can fit in a grain of salt. The steering was an issue before the Ball Joints were replaced.

1998 Dodge Ram Laramie SLT 1500 5.9L RWD.

The dealership did the work.

The bearings were replace late last year when I had the breaks (all 4) replaced. All tires replace around the same time balanced and rotated every 3,000 miles when I get oil change. Don't get me started on balance. Been told that you have them done only when the tires a put on. Have also been told to have them rebalanced when they are rotated. Never explained why just the way we do things.

If your car is already in alignment,then it is possible to replace the ball joints without an alignment as long as you got the steering turn straight forward and keep the tires/front end,rotors in place during the repair..Looks like to me that would have tried to sell this point for more money..At any rate it would have cost money if it was included or not ...
It was until after I had the heater core replaced.
 

Rustys

Well-Known Member
#9
When replacing suspension ball joints it is not mandatory to check wheel alignment, but it would be prudent to do so. Say the wheel alignment may have been corrected at an earlier time with worn ball joints, or the replacement ball joints were from a different manufacturer. There could be other aspects to this also, but before a "accurate" comment be made it would be necessary to know the type of suspension system we are talking about here, eg McPherson strut, or unequal length control arms? Yes it would be possible to alter "toe" by fitting alternate ball joints. Caster and Camber are often not adjustable, and require brute force, or modifications to provide adjustment.

If as you say the steering wheel is not centered in the straight ahead position, and it has occurred after the ball joints were fitted, then yes there is a difference now in the alignment angles.

Not to labour a point but is the terminology here "Ball joints" referring to suspension, or as often named steering "ball joints"?

Should you wish to advise the suspension type, and confirm if the discussion is about "suspension or steering" ball joints I can give a more accurate response for you?
No Idea if they changed manufacturer.

As far as suspension or steering no clue

This is a forum about helpful information CD. The information you presented will help give the less knowledgeable an insight. ;)
As long as there is no test later insight me. I resemble this remark. No not taken personally so do not think I am offended.

Thank you every one for the advice and insight.
 

Lord Chance

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#10
Been away for a bit. What I know about this type of stuff (out side of fluids and tires) you can fit in a grain of salt. The steering was an issue before the Ball Joints were replaced.


The bearings were replace late last year when I had the breaks (all 4) replaced. All tires replace around the same time balanced and rotated every 3,000 miles when I get oil change. Don't get me started on balance. Been told that you have them done only when the tires a put on. Have also been told to have them rebalanced when they are rotated. Never explained why just the way we do things.

It was until after I had the heater core replaced.
When did the problem start Rustys? Before the brake job or after? It is possible that the right hand front brake is not releasing completely and when it does the drift goes away. Also any tire shop that tells you to rebalance your tires at every rotation is after your money. Find another tire shop.
 

Cameldung

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#11
1998 Dodge Ram Laramie SLT 1500 5.9L RWD.
We do not have those here in Aus so i'm going off pictures on the net, which is a worry.

BTW the ball joints referred to below are number 7 is the upper ball joint, and number 9 the lower joint in the picture below.

T039090.gif

This picture one comes up several times for a 1998 Dodge Laramie, so "guessing" this is correct??????

IF this picture is correct for the 1998 model, then this is a very common "Short arm Long arm" or "unequal length" suspension system, so named because the top or upper arm is shorter than the lower arm.
This system has four ball joints in total, one on each upper arm (2 of) and one on each lower arm (also 2 of). The lower ball joints are subject to more wear and tear than the upper ones because they carry the weight of the vehicle, meaning they are normally replaced more often than the top ball joints. The upper ball joints are "locating" ball joints and bare steering, braking, and cornering forces. Often these upper joints have vertical free play when they are brand new, and by design, and this movement leads many repairers not understanding the workings of the system to falsely diagnose VERTICAL (not lateral) free play and replace them unnecessarily.

Again, from the picture, replacing upper or lower ball joints would not normally make a wheel alignment check mandatory, but a prudent repairer would be wise "checking" and reporting the results, and maybe securing future rectification custom.

If the steering wheel was off centre before the vehicle service then it is only reasonable that it would be the same after, again this would normally be corrected during a routine wheel alignment procedure.

Unfortunately this picture does not indicate if suspension alignment is provided for, so its a possibility that the only adjustment would be for steering toe, which would almost certainly mean "toe-in" in this case.
 
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Lord Chance

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#12
@Cameldung - Maybe you can clarify this for me. There are two type of alignment. Two Wheel Alignment and Four Wheel Alignment. My understanding is that the Two Wheel Alignment it proper for front wheel drive vehicles but the proper alignment for rear wheel drive vehicles would be Four Wheel Alignment. My assumption is that for a the rear wheel drive you need the front and rear wheels tracking due to the rear wheels pushing. :)
 

Cameldung

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#13
@Cameldung - Maybe you can clarify this for me. There are two type of alignment. Two Wheel Alignment and Four Wheel Alignment. My understanding is that the Two Wheel Alignment it proper for front wheel drive vehicles but the proper alignment for rear wheel drive vehicles would be Four Wheel Alignment. My assumption is that for a the rear wheel drive you need the front and rear wheels tracking due to the rear wheels pushing. :)
Yes and no LC, Like everything automotive there is always six different terms for similar things.

The term "Two Wheel Alignment" is used when the front suspension and steering angles are corrected with NO regard to the rear. This was the common way of doing things in the days of solid or "Live" rear axles. Two or four wheel drives had no bearing on it.

Since the advent of independent rear suspension however, new considerations have to be addressed. For example a vehicle with independent rear suspension will almost always have some adjustment for toe, often Camber adjustment is provided too. Caster is not required to be adjustable (or a consideration) on the rear wheels.

Lets say the left rear wheel has a little toe out, and the right rear wheel has a little toe in. The vehicle will tend to drive crab like with the rear to the left hand side. No amount of adjustment to the front geometry will make that vehicle steer straight, and like Rustys, the steering wheel probably wont be straight? The relationship to the front and rear end wheel alignments is referred to as "THRUST" In a nutshell any vehicle with independent rear suspension should have both front and rear alignments checked (at the same time) and then to each other, to ensure the vehicle tracks truly. This is why you may have seen some aligners using equipment fitted to both front and rear wheels simultaneously, and usually using laser beams to sight along the length of the vehicle onto a grid like screen.

There are even some very fancy computerized systems that all you do is mount the equipment to each wheel, rotate the wheel once to measure wheel run-out, turn the front wheels from around 20degrees each way, wait 10 seconds and bingo, front and rear rectification angles are shown, even tells you which way to turn an adjustment to fix it. Not much good for teaching someone to learn about suspension and steering angles, but hey that the modern way.

Hope that explained the question ok? Should you need any pics or more technical in depth stuff give me a yell
 

DCiAdmin

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#15
Not a comment on the thread per se, but damned grateful that we added the automotive section. I'm learning a good bit from reading. Thanks CD, LC and Veeg!
 

Rustys

Well-Known Member
#16
When did the problem start Rustys? Before the brake job or after? It is possible that the right hand front brake is not releasing completely and when it does the drift goes away. Also any tire shop that tells you to rebalance your tires at every rotation is after your money. Find another tire shop.
Problem started after the heater core was replaced and took it back to them and they could find nothing wrong. Yes will never take it back there have had to take the truck back to have them fix what they fixed before.

Was never charged for the rebalanced and it being a small hick town limited to the places we can go to get things done. The dealer ship is a sixty miles.

BTW the ball joints referred to below are number 7 is the upper ball joint, and number 9 the lower joint in the picture below.
That were the parts they showed me after they were replaced. I hope the were the ones off my truck.

Not a comment on the thread per se, but damned grateful that we added the automotive section. I'm learning a good bit from reading. Thanks CD, LC and Veeg!
So have I.
 

Cameldung

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#20
Here with any 2005 and above front wheel drive,these shops are calling for the x alignment, in which cost more and some now if you refuse to have all 4 wheels aligned,they will not perform the work and or will not guarantee the work..
As someone who has spent half a century in the automotive industry I can absolutely understand that. If a repairer was to do, say, a front end alignment on a vehicle with independent rear suspension, and after the vehicle didn't drive as per the customers expectation, then, upon return to the repairer it was then found that the rear alignment was out of whack, the customers first statement would be "why didn't you fix it whilst you did the alignment?" That's stage one of the argument, so the repairer either does the extra work at his own expense, or the dispute escalates. Over here in Aus the consumer has, and rightly so, tremendous protection, which means the consumer watchdog is now on the repairers doorstep wanting to know the answer to the customers question. Now the repairer has to convince the watchdog of his innocence. No one wins, the customer and repairer are now at loggerheads, the watchdog is now giving the repairer the tom ****.

The watchdog over here takes the view that if he cannot do the particular repair in the manner suitable, THEN DON'T DO IT. The repairer is looked on as a professional and has a duty to the customer to carry out the required repairs accordingly.

I make these comments as having been a long standing repairer, a so called "expert" who has sat on committees deciding who is at fault in a dispute over alleged shoddy repairs, and as a consultant preparing technical reports for use in dispute resolution and the court system. I reckon its fair to say i have seen both sides of the issues, and yes it has added to the cost of repairs in general.