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Old 11-06-2008, 02:29 AM   #1
evil_demon_01
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Question Some basic suspension checks

I see alot of threads, reguarding suspension components.
Namely - Balljoints, tierods and upper control arm faults.

These Items should be inspected 6 monthly, 12 monthly at the most.
I've seen threads where the OP has said "My upper ball joint broke, now my wheel has like 50 degrees positive camber" - Thats very scary, especially if it happens on the freeway.

Even driving a car w/o knowing the condition of the suspension components can be fatal, and it only takes a few minutes to check.
This thread is like a DIY to some basic suspension checks you can do yourself.

Upper and lower ball joints:
To check the balljoints, you need to jack the car up (so the wheels are off the ground), Grasp the wheel at the top and bottom and wiggle it back and forth.
If the balljoints are bad you will feel play as you wiggle the wheel. Also you want to check if the boots are split.

Tie-rods:
To check the Tie-rods, you need to jack the car up (so the wheels are off the ground), Grasp the wheel at the left and right plane, and wiggle it back and forth.
If the Tie-rods are bad you will feel play as you wiggle the wheel. Also you want to check if the boots are split.

Wheel bearings:
Usually first noticed by a humming noise from around one of the wheels when driving.
To check the wheel bearings, you will need to jack the car up (so the wheels are off the ground)
For the front wheels - Place one hand on the upper control arm and spin the wheel with the other hand.
For the rear wheels - Place one hand on the upper control arm, or on the lower control arm and spin the wheel with the other hand.
If the wheel bearing is bad - you will feel a "rough" vibration through your hand on the control arm.
Also you can often hear a rumbling sound coming from the hub.
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Car Safety / General Servicing Checks --------Basic suspension checks

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Last edited by mndude07; 04-29-2011 at 03:16 AM.
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Old 11-06-2008, 02:32 AM   #2
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Just want to elaborate on checking balljoints. Sometimes 1mm of play (the front lbjs come to mind) can be enough to unseat the ride over certain bumps and such. Its a good idea to try and look for movement with a screwdriver or something to give you leverage while you look and feel for play. Also, a rubber mallet can help find play as well in suspension components.
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Old 11-06-2008, 02:35 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by starchland View Post
Just want to elaborate on checking balljoints. Sometimes 1mm of play (the front lbjs come to mind) can be enough to unseat the ride over certain bumps and such. Its a good idea to try and look for movement with a screwdriver or something to give you leverage while you look and feel for play. Also, a rubber mallet can help find play as well in suspension components.
the right way is with a dial indicator on the balljoint and pry bar for leverage

i am doing lbj's on friday for a acura legend...joy.
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Old 11-06-2008, 02:40 AM   #4
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starchland may have said something they shouldn't have...
working around the house most of us have a screw driver only at our disposal.
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Old 11-06-2008, 02:43 AM   #5
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We have had ALOT of debate over here on using prybars to check for play (specifically bottom balljoints).
Oem honda balljoints DO have some degree of play (because they sit in a nylon cup which allows some form of deformation), you cannot feel it by hand, but you can when using a bar.

It's not a huge issue, just that the small amount of play can be mistaken for a bad joint, then you install a new one and it has the same result.
Just note: This is only ever any issue when using a bar - Just something to double check before condeming it
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Car Safety / General Servicing Checks --------Basic suspension checks

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Old 11-06-2008, 02:56 AM   #6
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Colin, my LBJ snapped off while I was cruising. Funny thing is, I sent the car for a routine service 2 days prior, and did a whole undercarriage check, checked my brakes and such. All was good, no free play and such.

Cruising at around 100-110km/h, and this happened:

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Old 11-06-2008, 03:00 AM   #7
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Interesting, It looks like it has snapped, not popped out correct?
It could be due to overtightening of the nut, Hard to say.
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Car Safety / General Servicing Checks --------Basic suspension checks

My 5.7 LS1 Holden Ute

A "Finished" project car is never finished until its been sold.

If at first you don't succeed, Try again. Don't give up too easily, persistance pays off in the end.

Last edited by evil_demon_01; 11-06-2008 at 03:02 AM.
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Old 11-06-2008, 03:01 AM   #8
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wow looks like your brake line saved you!!!

no freeplay in the balljoint according to whom? your mechanic? yeah see from my experiences freeplay according to a mechanic could mean it has 2-3mm of play easy
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Old 11-06-2008, 03:02 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by evil_demon_01 View Post
Interesting, It looks like it has snapped, not popped out correct?
It could be due to overtightening of the nut, Hard to say.
It was sheared off. the threaded part remained on the lower arm. The thread was okay, we took it out nicely, infact.

Quote:
Originally Posted by starchland View Post
wow looks like your brake line saved you!!!

no freeplay in the balljoint according to whom? your mechanic? yeah see from my experiences freeplay according to a mechanic could mean it has 2-3mm of play easy
My foreman, and myself
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Last edited by blizzard335; 11-06-2008 at 03:04 AM.
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Old 11-06-2008, 03:04 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by starchland View Post
wow looks like your brake line saved you!!!

no freeplay in the balljoint according to whom? your mechanic? yeah see from my experiences freeplay according to a mechanic could mean it has 2-3mm of play easy
If I feel more than 1mm at the wheel by hand I fail them.
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Old 11-06-2008, 03:07 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by evil_demon_01 View Post
If I feel more than 1mm at the wheel by hand I fail them.
is there a definite way of determining this? I mean, by using an apparatus or something

I mean, I did the method you described, and it was tight, according to my foreman. And no 'loose' sounds or klunking.
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Old 11-06-2008, 03:16 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blizzard335 View Post
is there a definite way of determining this? I mean, by using an apparatus or something

I mean, I did the method you described, and it was tight, according to my foreman. And no 'loose' sounds or klunking.
About 2mm or less you won't actually hear, but you will feel.
The definate way to determine this, is that you can usually feel "play"
Otherwise for example: With the outer tierod you can watch it when you wiggle the wheel.
If it has play you will be able to see the tierod stay still, while the steering knuckle moves - Note this gets harder to see if the play is smaller.
Anything above 1.5mm is very obvious, 1mm and below gets harder to pick up on (as to which joint has play)
I.e you may feel play when wiggling the wheel at the top and bottom, but you still need to look at the top and bottom balljoint to see which one has the play.
Same with the steering inner and outer tierods.
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Car Safety / General Servicing Checks --------Basic suspension checks

My 5.7 LS1 Holden Ute

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Old 11-06-2008, 12:24 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by evil_demon_01 View Post
If I feel more than 1mm at the wheel by hand I fail them.
I agree.
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Old 11-27-2008, 12:52 PM   #14
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Freeplay is different in all cars. Some you can check when the cars on the ground. Some you have to check while it's in the air. Some you have to check while its in the air with something supporting the wheel with a light load.
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Old 11-27-2008, 12:53 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chirs190E16v View Post
Freeplay is different in all cars. Some you can check when the cars on the ground. Some you have to check while it's in the air. Some you have to check while its in the air with something supporting the wheel with a light load.
exactly...
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Old 12-01-2008, 02:12 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chirs190E16v View Post
Freeplay is different in all cars. Some you can check when the cars on the ground. Some you have to check while it's in the air. Some you have to check while its in the air with something supporting the wheel with a light load.
I dissagree, "Freeplay" is the same on anything.
Btw play on honda's should be checked with the wheels off the ground.
If you get an 08 Honda Legend, and do the test with the wheels in the air with something supporting the wheel with a light load, and check the bottom balljoints, they will have play - But they don't have "Freeplay"
Honda Balljoints have a nylon cup which allows some form of flex under load which is normal.
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Car Safety / General Servicing Checks --------Basic suspension checks

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Old 04-16-2010, 02:54 AM   #17
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Question

Less than a year ago, both side of my upper control arms and tie rod ends boots were split. I read many places that if the grease was still clean and the ball joint still look good, that I can just replace the boots. It's almost a year now and changing just the boots, no sign of failure. What are the chances that these components would fail without symptoms now?
It's been driving pretty smooth and no free play when I check yesterday.

Thanks,
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Old 04-16-2010, 04:16 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bad_dude View Post
Less than a year ago, both side of my upper control arms and tie rod ends boots were split. I read many places that if the grease was still clean and the ball joint still look good, that I can just replace the boots. It's almost a year now and changing just the boots, no sign of failure. What are the chances that these components would fail without symptoms now?
It's been driving pretty smooth and no free play when I check yesterday.

Thanks,
Ultimately a split allows dirt and dust to get in.
Unless you can genuinely prove the grease is "clean" then there is always the possibility of excessive wear on the joint.
A steel ball rubbing on a nylon bush is OK, But add a bit of dirt and dust, and I'm sure you can imagine the effects.

Sure, yours has lasted since you changed the boots with "no issue" but can you honestly tell me there hasn't been more wear than normal?
In NZ we don't sell Boots, You buy the whole joint or nothing.

The chances of them failing are more likely than an unsplit boot, that's really all I can say.
As to how long it will take is anyones guess.
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Car Safety / General Servicing Checks --------Basic suspension checks

My 5.7 LS1 Holden Ute

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If at first you don't succeed, Try again. Don't give up too easily, persistance pays off in the end.
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Old 04-16-2010, 04:47 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by evil_demon_01 View Post
Ultimately a split allows dirt and dust to get in.
Unless you can genuinely prove the grease is "clean" then there is always the possibility of excessive wear on the joint.
A steel ball rubbing on a nylon bush is OK, But add a bit of dirt and dust, and I'm sure you can imagine the effects.

Sure, yours has lasted since you changed the boots with "no issue" but can you honestly tell me there hasn't been more wear than normal?
In NZ we don't sell Boots, You buy the whole joint or nothing.

The chances of them failing are more likely than an unsplit boot, that's really all I can say.
As to how long it will take is anyones guess.
Thanks for the input. That pic below your post, is that part of NZ? It's beautiful.
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Old 04-16-2010, 05:15 AM   #20
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Thanks for the input. That pic below your post, is that part of NZ? It's beautiful.
Yes it is, its actually my parents lawn
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