The Problem With your Original Dodge Ball Joints… and How to Solve It
Imagine this, you’re zooming down the highway in your Dodge Challenger, and you start to hear a clunking noise. Or, how about you and your friends are on your way to the beach, riding with the windows down and all of a sudden your Charger starts to wander into the next lane? What if you were going for an afternoon drive and the steering wheel in your Chrysler 300 starts to vibrate? These are all symptoms that your front lower ball joints might be wearing down. Premature ball joint failure is very common in a couple of Chrysler LX platform vehicles, because of a design flaw that does not allow for the joints to be lubricated. The vehicles are:
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Reasons for Ball Joint Failure
OE (Original Equipment) ball joints in these Dodge cars are known to prematurely fail, because of issues they were manufactured with, like the fact that they are not greaseable, they include a polymer socket, and they feature a dust boot that sits high on the stud. While you can’t help those, there are some modifications and activities that you can do to wear out your joints sooner, such as racing, lowering, and driving long distances for daily commutes. Here are the internal and external factors that can cause premature OE ball joint failure in your Charger.
Internal Design Flaws
- Non-Servicable – The OE part was not made to be greased or flushed, meaning that you are not able to add grease into the joint to push out the dirt and debris that entered, and you are not able to lubricate it. The issue with that is when the debris builds up it causes the ball stud to corrode. This corrosion creates a lot of wear on your joints which makes them fail.
- Polymer Socket – The OE ball joints on these dodge cars have a polymer socket that the ball stud sits in. This socket isn’t very durable, and because the dirt and debris that enter can’t be removed, the socket will wear out very quickly and will lead to a loose ball joint.
- Vunerable Dust Boot – The OE dust boot sits high on the stud and because of this, when you take fast turns, the joint articulates and that puts stress on the boot. Too much stress will cause it to rip or tear, and once this happens, grease leaks are inevitable and there’s nothing stopping dirt and debris from entering.
- Racing – For the people that like to upgrade their charger or challenger and hit the track every weekend, racing will have an effect on your ball joints. Every sharp turn that you take at high speeds puts more and more pressure on that plastic socket, wearing it down.
- Lowering – The racers like to lower their cars, so that they go faster, but while you will have less of a draft and go a bit faster, you will also mess up your suspension and alignment by changing the angle that the ball joint sits at.
- Long Daily Commutes – The OE ball joints aren’t made to withstand the daily wear and tear that they will face during long distance driving, because they are not able to be flushed out or lubricated. Putting a lot of miles on your Dodge will wear out your joints prematurely and ensure that a replacement is needed soon.
Making a Longer Lasting Part
Moog cares about getting their customers a longer lasting, better performing part. With their Problem Solver line, they have taken a look at all of the issues that customers have had with the OE ball joints on these Dodge vehicles and fixed them. The Moog K80996 Problem Solver Ball Joint has done just that, by taking care of the service issue and using better quality internal components.
- Servicability – This ball joint includes a zerk fitting, So that the joint is able to be flushed out and greased. This reduces the amount of wear done on the joint, and increases its longevity.
- Metal Gusher Bearing – The old polymer socket is replaced by a new porous metal gusher bearing that allows for easy lubrication within the joint. Unlike the old socket, Moog’s bearing is very durable and its porous nature will make sure that it always stays greased/lubricated.
- Integral Dust Boot – Moog’s ball joint features a pre-installed integral dust boot, which means that the boot sits inside of the joint. Moog makes sure that when you’re driving, you will be protected from dirt and debris getting inside.
Moog Limited Lifetime Warranty
Moog Problem Solver Ball Joints are an OE “replacement” that essentially takes the OE design, improves it, and adds some premium upgrades. This means that a Dodge Challenger using these ball joints will very likely outlast the OE parts, and will be covered by a Limited Lifetime Warranty. The lifetime warranty is only valid for stock suspension setups, vehicles that are not raced, and vehicles that do not undergo extreme driving. Keep in mind that many manufacturers do not carry a lifetime warranty on ball joints at all.
Now, while Moog does have a limited lifetime warranty for their problem solver ball joints, they allow dealers to set the limits of the warranty. Moog-Suspension-Parts.com stands behind Moog’s warranty and deals with customers directly on a case by case basis regarding the details of their warranty, instead of directing you to Moog (who would direct you back to the dealer) like some companies will do.
At the end of the day, the OE ball joints with their plastic sockets aren’t going to be able to handle the wear and tear that your Charger is going to put them through, whether you’re racing or not. Moog’s K80996 Problem Solver ball joint is definitely a stronger replacement, backed by a Lifetime Warranty.
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Symptoms of Failing Ball Joints
If your ball joints have failed or become loose there are several ways to check your ball joints. You may experience a couple of these symptoms:
- Steering Wander – When a ball joint has play, it will begin to rattle around and if one side is rattling more than the other, then your car will drift that way.
- “Clunking” – This is a noise that you’ll start to notice when your ball joints become loose. The noise will get louder as your joints continue to wear down.
- Vibrations – Along with the clunking noise that you will hear when you’re ball joints are loose, you will start to feel vibrations in your steering wheel.
- Tire Wear – When People think about ball joint failure, they don’t usually think about their tires. However, they can be a big indicator; especially with cars that rack up high mileage, during everyday use. When your joints undergo extensive wear, they can become loose, which will mess up your tire alignment. If your tires look more worn on the inside or outside edges, you might have some failing ball joints.