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Old 05-09-2005, 09:40 AM   #1
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Default Ball Joint Noise...Upper, lower, or tie rod end??

So I get a slight knock/clunk when starting and stopping, going over some bumps, etc. I've narrowed it down that it's not my bushings, but more likely ball joints. As far as I remember from the last time I removed the tranny, the boots are fine on both lower joints. The upper ball joint has been replaced with an adjustable one ~4 years ago. I've read and understand how the lower one can be removed with a hammer and socket, and knocked back in the same way, what about the upper one? I've read that Honda doesn't sell that ball joint separate from the UCA, but is it still possible to pull the old one out and put a new one in?

So a few major questions:

1. How can I tell which ball joint is bad (between upper and lower) and how do I tell if it's bad?

2. Can I remove the ball joint boot and just pack new grease in there? Will that help?

3. If the ball joints are bad and knocking, how detrimental is it to continue to drive on them as they are for awhile?

I'm a big DIY'er so I want to do as much of this myself as possible.

Thanks.


Modified by ****** at 12:33 PM 5/10/2005
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Old 05-09-2005, 10:44 AM   #2
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Default Re: Ball Joint Noise...Upper or lower?? (******)

1. I found a bad lower balljoint once by comparing the space between the boots and the LCAs on both sides. One of them had a gap, and once I had it replaced there was no more clunking. It was actually a damaged stud that kept the castle nut from bottoming out the LCA on the stud taper.

2. If it's clunking, new grease isn't gonna help...

3. It isn't detrimental at all until they break. I've only seen this in one instance, but it wasn't pretty

4. The upper balljoints are not removable fromt he UCA. They must be replaced as a unit.

5. If it's a Lower balljoint thats giving you trouble, it's best to rent the balljoint press kit from autozone. That way you don't need to beat the hell out of your new balljoint to get it in. Once you get the thing rigged up, you just turn it with a rachet, and it will pull the old one out of the knuckle. Then you reconfigure the thing & rachet the new one into place...

Good luck figuring out which one/ones are bad. I haven't had much luck with balljoints myself... Click the image to open in full size.
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Old 05-09-2005, 10:52 AM   #3
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Default Re: Ball Joint Noise...Upper or lower?? (94eg!)

Sounds like trying to find a needle in a haystack. I need to check everything to make sure that all the bolts and etc. are tight, but I wouldn't be suprised if the aftermarket adjustable ball joints I put in are bad. In that case I could probably source out a pair of UCA's from someone for fairly cheap with low miles and throw those in.

I haven't had much luck with the balljoint press when I tried to use it last time to put in the adjustable ones, it was a ****** to get rigged up. I ended up just using a hammer.

Luckily, it doesn't sound like they are something that commonly breaks, just are annoying and make noise. I'll keep my fingers crossed that they don't break, I've seen the aftermath as well.

Any more info as to how to check the balljoints to determine if they're bad?

Thanks.

edit: according to Napa Auto Parts's website, they have front upper ball joints for Civics? Are they able to get them from some supplier, or is this not 100% the correct part?


Modified by ****** at 2:11 PM 5/9/2005
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Old 05-10-2005, 04:45 AM   #4
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Default Re: Ball Joint Noise...Upper or lower?? (******)

So I checked out the adjustable ball joints last night, I pulled the boot back a little and the grease/lubrication in there looked fairly dry. There was some in there, but it was dried up and cracking. Seems like a good indication that they could be bad. I guess I keep looking to these adjustable ones becuase they're aftermarket and not OEM.

I also grabbed the wheel at 12 and 6 o'clock, no movement or slop.

I grabbed it at 3 and 9 o'clock, and there was a little bit of movement but it was the steering wheel turning the small amount it does in the locked position. Shouldn't this be normal? Then with the car on the ground, I turned the steering wheel back and forth quickly, and it made some clunking noise, but isn't this just normal backlash in the steering rack system?

It seems like if I notice the noise mainly when going over bumps, starting and stopping, etc. then it's likely to be either the upper or lower balljoint (one more associated with the suspension).

Any thoughts? Sorry these posts are so long, just trying to be thorough.
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Old 05-10-2005, 07:17 AM   #5
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Default Re: Ball Joint Noise...Upper or lower?? (******)

The movement & noise you described is normal. The only problem is that wiggling the tire & steering wheel usually doesn't expose a bad balljoint. Even when I took mine to the shop (because I spotted the gap), the mechanic said the balljoint was fine. Once they replaced it though, the poping was gone.

Mabey you could try this:
Rent a tie rod end lifter.
Remove your castle nut.
Separate your balljoint (one at a time).
Clean the stud & hole.
Inspect each balljoint for play and roughness.
Re-Lube any dry ones.
Reinstall balljoint.
Reinstall castle nut.
Install new cotter pin.
Move on to next balljoint.

Mabey once the studs have been cleaned they will seat better into their homes... Click the image to open in full size.
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Old 05-10-2005, 07:29 AM   #6
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Default Re: Ball Joint Noise...Upper or lower?? (94eg!)

Sounds like a possible solution, maybe that would help a little, plus it would allow me to see what all the balljoints look like inside, maybe giving an indication of what kind of condition they're in. I assume just some type of high temp grease/lubricant?

Thanks for all your help 94eg!

If anyone else has more suggestions please feel free to add.
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Old 05-10-2005, 08:51 AM   #7
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Default Re: Ball Joint Noise...Upper or lower?? (******)

So seems as though there are 3 possibilities:

1. Tie Rod ends
2. Lower balljoint
3. Upper balljoint

Wish there was some definite answer to tell which ones are bad. Driving me nuts.
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Old 05-10-2005, 09:06 AM   #8
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Default Re: Ball Joint Noise...Upper or lower?? (******)

One more thing to check: Make sure the threads are clean & straight. To do this, just thread your castle nut all the way down the stud. If you can't thread it down easily with your fingers, you may need a die to re-cut the threads. It's pretty common for messed up threads to keep the castle nut from bottoming out correctly...
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Old 05-10-2005, 09:32 AM   #9
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Default Re: Ball Joint Noise...Upper or lower?? (94eg!)

What happens when the ball joint fails (upper or lower)?
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Old 05-10-2005, 09:35 AM   #10
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Default Re: Ball Joint Noise...Upper or lower?? (dpkelly)

If it fails all hell breaks loose. The assembly will fall down and the car will either dive left or right, depending on which side broke. I've seen it **** up the LCA's, UCA's, tie rods, hub, rotor, fender. It's not a pretty sight.

Bump for finding out how to verify which balljoint(s) are bad for sure. That's the issue now, I've sourced all the parts and know how much it's going to be to replace all 6, but I'd rather not do that if I don't have to.
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Old 05-10-2005, 10:04 AM   #11
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Default Re: Ball Joint Noise...Upper or lower?? (******)

My Chilton's and Hayne's manuals say that using a prybar between the LCA and "???" (forgot name of component), there should be no movement for the lower balljoint otherwise it's the upper balljoints when jacked up. Upper balljoints need whole UCA to be replaced.
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Old 05-10-2005, 12:29 PM   #12
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Default Re: Ball Joint Noise...Upper or lower?? (dpkelly)

Thanks, I'll try that too. Although I don't think there was any movement.


Grab the wheel at 12 and 6 o'clock and try to move it. If it moves, lower balljoint is bad. <---doesn't do this thus indicating lower one is good.

If the front suspension 'clunks' when going over bumps/accelerating, lower balljoint is bad. <---does do this.

This is what I've gathered from searching ~350 posts.

I'm about to just start replacing stuff, with the cheapest parts first.

Bump before leaving work...this is frustrating. I need to figure out how to test these bitches.
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Old 05-10-2005, 01:00 PM   #13
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oh man...I just replaced the upper BJ on my Skunk 2 kit for nothing Click the image to open in full size.

apparenly the lower one is the culprit. does anyone have a blow up diagram on how to disassemble this thinh?
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Old 05-10-2005, 01:07 PM   #14
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Default Re: Ball Joint Noise...Upper or lower?? (******)

I've always wondered about my suspension on my '92 civic with 240,000miles. It does make those sounds too and more so after I fixed up my brakes when I come to a stop. On my '95 Odyssey, the lower ball joint (left) began to seize making turning more stiff. It was my mechanic who diagnosed it. Now it turns just fine.
I have never replaced anything on my '92 civic suspension-wise. It scares me to think of what could happen if any suspension component fails. I guess it's time for a road-test/checkup.
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Old 05-10-2005, 01:30 PM   #15
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Default Re: Ball Joint Noise...Upper or lower?? (dpkelly)

well. Mine started to do this about a year after I lowered my lx. And about 3 years ago i installed a front chamber kit, which included a new upper ball joint. Then last year I replaced my lower ball joint , becasue the boot got torn from removing the axles during my swap. And then over the winter i replaced my tie rod ends. And it still clunks coming to a stop or moving from a stop. but I think its the tie rods, becasue My wheel is nice a stiff it doesn't move when i try too, but when i grab my tie rod forward and backward it clunks. So even though its brand new it still clunks. I think its because my car is so low. Its lowered to where I have no wheel gap and the tires rub on the fender on fast turns. And I also noticed that when the car is sitting and i look at the tir rod its angle upward, which is normal on a lowered car. Becasue at stock height the tie rods angle downward. So its weird, all my ball joints have been replaced but it still clunks!!!!
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Old 05-10-2005, 01:33 PM   #16
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take off your knuckle. take the clip off the top of the old ball joint.. wack the **** out of it with a hammer... it will pop right out.. now set new one in hole... bash that mother in with a socket to keep it strait and put the new clip on... your good to go.. ez as cake.. Click the image to open in full size.


thast for whoever is asking how to do the lower one
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Old 05-10-2005, 03:51 PM   #17
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Default Re: (JDM EJ1 95)

I don't have air tools but I do have a breaker bar and socket set. Do I need airtools for suspension work?
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Old 05-10-2005, 04:22 PM   #18
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Default Re: (dpkelly)

Not necessarily. It makes it a little easier, but it's not required.
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Old 05-10-2005, 10:37 PM   #19
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Default Re: (******)

Quote:
Originally Posted by dpkelly
I don't have air tools but I do have a breaker bar and socket set. Do I need airtools for suspension work?
You will need a good understanding of suspension. The factory Helms manual is a pricless source of information, and it can be yours for about $60 from http://www.helminc.com...
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Old 05-11-2005, 03:23 PM   #20
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so the BJ is held on by a C clip?
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Old 05-11-2005, 03:35 PM   #21
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Its a tight fit too - They need to be pressed in or beaten with a hammer. Then the clip goes on for added hold
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Old 05-12-2005, 06:05 AM   #22
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Default Re: (pdiggitydogg)

I figure I can hit it out with a hammer from the bottom, and then hit it back in with a hammer from the top. Do I need to remove the axle and the entire knuckle, or can I just separate the lower balljoint and get around to it?
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Old 05-12-2005, 09:11 AM   #23
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Default Re: (******)

Quote:
Originally Posted by ******
I figure I can hit it out with a hammer from the bottom, and then hit it back in with a hammer from the top. Do I need to remove the axle and the entire knuckle, or can I just separate the lower balljoint and get around to it?
it would be easiest to remove the whole knuckle and put it in a vice when hitting with a hammer. i replaced a lower ball joint with the knuckle still attatched to the car at the upper bal joint. it was a bit of a pain, but it worked
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Old 05-12-2005, 10:01 AM   #24
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Default Re: (blackeg)

I was planning on buying this too to make balljoint separation a breeze. The rachet trick works wonders on the lower BJ, but the other two are a different story. This thing is only $20 shipped on ebay....

I've rented this "Tie Rod Lifter" in a "5pc front end kit" from Checker, but they don't sell it separatly. Honda wants $130 for their version, but I'm sure it's better quality. This thing does work well though...
Click the image to open in full size.
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Old 05-12-2005, 12:14 PM   #25
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I must be super lucky...my tie rod ends and upper joints always just popped out from a quick tap with a hammer.
Very surprising with all the rust on the rest of the chassis
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