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CadillacLuke24

When to change ball joints

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2015 Chevrolet Silverado LTZ Z71 1500, 6.2L,

 

Stock 18s on 26 65 18 SRAs until 23k miles, 20 Polished Chevy wheels and 275 55 20 SRAs to 59k, then same 20 Chevy wheels and 275 55 20 Michelins to now (83,324)

 

90% pavement, especially highway, 10% dirt

 

Back at 61k miles, I went to a Plains tire for the first and last time for a free alignment check that came with the Michelins I got there. They stated the ball joints on the left side had an ever so slight amount of play, and offered to start changing parts, with the check approaching four figures. Smelling a rat, and being quite capable of doing my own work, I thanked them for their time and haven't set foot in that particular store since then. 

 

Now that I'm getting closer to the C-note mark, I'm starting to budget for suspension parts. At my last tire rotation ye olde 12 and 6 shake check revealed what feels to be a very solid setup up front, no play at all. Handling is still very responsive (for a half ton double cab Silverado), and I haven't noticed any deterioration since new. Everything has age appropriate dirt on it, as viewed from my creeper, no leaking, and no wear patterns to indicate excessive play. Tire wear is excellent. 

 

What have you found to be indicators of worn ball joints? Any particular mileage, or more of a based on feeling determination? I'm happy with them now, just trying to learn, this is my first 4x4 truck, a lot different from my FWD V8 Cadillac. 

 

Thank you for reading :thumbs:

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You can check your ball joints yourself by jacking the vehicle off the ground so that the tires are just off the ground. Then put a lever under the tire and move it up and down. If your ball joints are worn you will feel and see the movement. 

 

One other way is to take it to several places around town to have a front end alignment and see what they say.  If all of them say the same thing then more than likely your ball joints are worn.  I wouldn't think they would wear out that fast but then having larger tires on will cause suspension parts to wear faster.  I have 183k on my 02 with all the original suspension parts.  But then I still have the ball joints that can be greased and are not sealed like now.

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I know that when the ball joints went out in my 2007, the tires were wearing excessively on the insides.

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Checking yourself is the only way if you're worried about it.  Otherwise, keep riding...tire wear will tell the story.  When they get bad enough you'll hear a knock when backing out.    It's not unusual for them to start having play around 70k miles.  By 100-120k most of the GM SUV's and trucks we see are apparent.   My last set was the wife's 2009 Suburban, had very slight play but I could NOT get the tires to stop feathering.  95% of people wouldn't replace them on the small amount of play they had but I did, and the tires stopped edge wear.  

 

If you think a shop is gigging you, just ask them to demonstrate, it's easy to see them moving.  It's not unethical to see an issue and inform a customer of the condition of their vehicle.  I would argue the opposite, when your car goes in for service and you don't get any information, you're not getting service.    

 

Honestly they're not bad to do, especially considering the cost.  Get a nice ball joint press and a couple of MOOG ball joints and you'll still save $500 or more.  

Edited by Leevon

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Haha sounds VERY familiar. I’m assuming your talking about the same plains tire in Gillette. I took my pickup in there after I got new wheels and tires. They said the same, your ball joints are shot. Having 125kish miles it wouldn’t surprise me. They quoted me around $1200 I think to do all 4. I’ve done ball joints myself, and know what to check for. I declined their offer to start changing. I

drove directly to my shop and checked them myself. Zero play on either side. First and last time I go there also.

Like others have said you should know when they start to go by how it drives and tire wear. YouTube has taught me a lot about how to do/check stuff. 

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Yep! They also were so courteous as to scratch my wheels when I got my new Michelins, so I should have known, stupid me :lol:

 

Thank you for the advice guys :thumbs: I will keep an eye on tire wear. Due for a rotation here very soon, so when I have them off I will check them out. Between the check for movement and the tire wear looks like I'm good to do. I am planning to service my struts/shocks and springs at all 4 corners at the 100k mark, so I think I will change the upper and lower ball joints as a matter of thoroughness. I was considering swaybar links and swaybar bushings as well but those look to be in great shape, so we'll wait on those. 

 

Thank you again  :thumbs: This is why I love forums. Bunch of great guys with great trucks, great advice, and great stories!

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Just me, if I were changing balljoints, i'd just change all the bushings, check the steering links too.  The steel upper A-arms are sold as a unit with ball joints and bushings assembled, when the upper ball joint needs replacement. Not sure about aluminum A-arm trucks.

 

The chassis shop I've been using for 40 years checks the whole system before they do alignments. If there is anything worn, they call you into the pit and show you.  

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1 hour ago, Spurshot said:

Just me, if I were changing balljoints, i'd just change all the bushings, check the steering links too.  The steel upper A-arms are sold as a unit with ball joints and bushings assembled, when the upper ball joint needs replacement. Not sure about aluminum A-arm trucks.

 

The chassis shop I've been using for 40 years checks the whole system before they do alignments. If there is anything worn, they call you into the pit and show you.  

It would be nice if all shops did this.  The shop I used did the same thing.  Matter of fact, I sat there and talked to the guy while he did the work. It was great. But they were a family owned business and closed up shop. So now I'm left with finding another one. 

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Yeah they didn't bother showing me, which was a part of my frustration.

 

I will be doing bushings when the time comes, when you say steering links is that in the steering shaft?

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I have over 140k on my 15 crew.  I have beat the shit out of this truck.  Not on purpose, just using as I need it. Anyway.  I'm on my 3rd set of tires now but at set #2, the service guy at a local shop came and told me my lowers were shot! This is at 80k.  I am very mechanically inclined and have over 500k miles with this platform.  I know they are fine.  I declined immediately nicely, but then he kept pushing and tried offering a level kit at the same time.  By this point I already had 2 Moog lowers on their way to me.  I showed him I ordered them, and offered 50 bucks for the front level spacer.  He tried to sell me again.  I said look, I am very in tune with my truck.  I would know.  There were zero signs.  Just put my tires on, balance, and don't do the alignment you say you can't do because my lowers are shot.  He does just that.  I even got the level kit for me to install later.  Which brings me to here.  Finally had time to install my leveling kit, rear add leaf, new shocks, plugs, wires, and all fluids.  I had 2 full days to myself in my shop.  Rented a ball joint press and ready to go.  Thing is, they are still good.  Just didn't want to tear into more if I didn't have to.  I have normal/good wear and just thought "save them for next time, if needed" Next day I took my truck to a different shop near my g/f.  We were leaving for a weeks vacation so I dropped it off for them to do.  They balanced and aligned.  I even let them know I left the ball joins in the back seat just in case.  They told me everything was good.  My truck feels amazing.  Tracks straight, great even tire wear, no vibrations or sounds.  I beat this truck daily and it doesn't show....thats why this is my 4th GM truck. 

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3 hours ago, J-man67 said:

I have over 140k on my 15 crew.  I have beat the shit out of this truck.  Not on purpose, just using as I need it. Anyway.  I'm on my 3rd set of tires now but at set #2, the service guy at a local shop came and told me my lowers were shot! This is at 80k.  I am very mechanically inclined and have over 500k miles with this platform.  I know they are fine.  I declined immediately nicely, but then he kept pushing and tried offering a level kit at the same time.  By this point I already had 2 Moog lowers on their way to me.  I showed him I ordered them, and offered 50 bucks for the front level spacer.  He tried to sell me again.  I said look, I am very in tune with my truck.  I would know.  There were zero signs.  Just put my tires on, balance, and don't do the alignment you say you can't do because my lowers are shot.  He does just that.  I even got the level kit for me to install later.  Which brings me to here.  Finally had time to install my leveling kit, rear add leaf, new shocks, plugs, wires, and all fluids.  I had 2 full days to myself in my shop.  Rented a ball joint press and ready to go.  Thing is, they are still good.  Just didn't want to tear into more if I didn't have to.  I have normal/good wear and just thought "save them for next time, if needed" Next day I took my truck to a different shop near my g/f.  We were leaving for a weeks vacation so I dropped it off for them to do.  They balanced and aligned.  I even let them know I left the ball joins in the back seat just in case.  They told me everything was good.  My truck feels amazing.  Tracks straight, great even tire wear, no vibrations or sounds.  I beat this truck daily and it doesn't show....thats why this is my 4th GM truck. 

Good story! I like hearing things like this as I just bought a used 15 RCSB SLE with 20k miles on it. I've read a lot about this platform and so far I'm getting that it's a mixed bag as far as longevity and reliability goes. I know there's the whole "built on Monday or Friday" saying but it's still encouraging when people say they beat on their trucks and make it to high miles with only basic maintenance. 👍 

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Glad it helped. This truck is used as a truck daily. Towing, hauling, long trips, short trips. Rips from red lights wheels spinning often too. 3.73/6spd with traction off... Its fun! Hauls my family around as well. I have so much confidence in this truck that I'm having a hard time letting it go. Ultimately it's going to one of my project managers soon as we are growing and I want a new truck lol.

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Update, now at 128,288 miles. Still on factory ball joints. Tire wear is exceptional. 

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thanks cadillacluke24, i am also wondering how long the ball joints will last. this is the first truck that i have owned that doesnt have grease fittings for the joints. my 2006 was and i had 300k on it and only one tie rod had to be replaced. i am at 100k miles on my 2014 and am surprised that the ball joints are still tight

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A little story about my 2014.

 

I noticed a knocking sound coming from the front of my truck. I started checking every thing I could get a wrench on while under the truck. Nothing loose. One afternoon my son came over, I had him help me check the ball joints. I jacked the truck up and had him pry up on the tire. There was movement on the drivers side, where I was hearing the noise. I ordered a set of MOOG upper control arms. They came in, I painted them black.

 

I took off work on a Friday to do the work. Got the truck on jack stands and removed the front wheel. Match marked everything so I could get it all close. Put the wrench on the upper A-arm mounts and they were loose. Ugh!! The arm had been moving around causing the noise. I thought, what the heck, I've got the parts and went ahead and changed the uppers out. The good news is MOOG are greasable where the stockers are not.

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