Front Lower Ball Joint Problems in your Truck or SUV and a Solid Replacement
Your ball joint’s job is to connect your wheel to your vehicle’s suspension system. As you can imagine, heavy-duty vehicles can be taxing on your joints as they have more weight to support. Whether you are using your truck to haul stuff for work, or your SUV to take the kids to school, you need to have some pretty strong joints. There are some OE ball joints out there that are known to fail prematurely, because of a couple of defects that they were manufactured with, like it being non-greaseable or having a polymer bearing, etc. These are a couple of those vehicles:
- Ford Expedition ’97-’02
- Ford Explorer ’95-’05
- Sport trac ’01-’05
- Ford F-150 ’97-’03
- Heritage ’04
- Ford F-250 ’97-’99
- Ford Ranger ’98-’01
- Lincoln Navigator ’98-’02
- Mazda B2500 ’99-’01
- Mazda B3000/B4000 ’98-’01
- Mercury Mountaineer ’97-’05
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Reasons for Ball Joint Failure
After years of hauling wood in your F-150 or taking all of the kids to soccer practice in your Expedition, you’re going to acquire a lot of miles. We know that these vehicles stay with you and your family for a while, and carrying a lot of weight during that time can put more than normal stress on your ball joints. Excessive use of your vehicle without regular maintenance checks can lead to failure in these OE ball joints.
Some of the trucks and SUVs listed above have ball joints that are known to fail because of issues with how they were designed, like a non-hardened stud, an inferior dust boot, and a couple of other problems that will wear down your ball joints and cause failure.
Internal Design Flaws
- Non-Hardened Stud – Some of these OE ball joints feature a stud that isn’t hardened or heat treated. The heat treating process makes the stud stronger, and is recommended for durability.
- Inferior Dust Boot – Your usual OE ball joint is going to feature a dust boot that sits high up on the stud, and provides basic protection, but your dust boot can be ripped or torn from too much pressure. If it tears, you will leak grease, causing your joint to dry out, and dirt and debris can enter and wear it down.
- Non-Serviceable – The OE ball joint is also non-greasable, which means that you aren’t able to flush out contaminants, or keep the joint lubricated. Debris build-up leads to corrosion, which will cause failure.
- Polymer Bearing – The polymer bearing on your usual OE ball joint is very unreliable, because of the material that it is made out of. When dirt and debris invade your joint, they pile up and cause the bearing to grind down. Once this bearing is worn, your joint is toast.
Fixing OE Problems
Moog has made it their mission to listen to what customers say are the big issues with these ball joints, and fix them with their problem Solver Line. Moog has repaired the problems from the OE joint, and enhanced it to form a newer, better replacement. This problem solver front lower ball joint for your Ford, Lincoln, or Mercury is a strong choice in OE ball joint replacements for a couple of reasons:
- Hardened Ball Stud – One of Moog’s features is that the ball stud has been heat-treated, which is the process that hardens the stud and makes it more durable. Heat treating also makes the stud harder on the outside, and more flexible on the inside, so that when you’re hauling a trailer and someone cuts you off, or you’re taking the kids home and you have to swerve to avoid hitting Bambi, your joint would only bend a bit, instead of breaking off like an OE joint might.
- Integral Dust Boot – The Moog ball joint has an integral dust boot that sits inside of the joint, so that there is no gap between the boot and your joint. It also features a double fold to ensure the tightest seal, blocking any contaminants from making their way inside.
- Greaseable – Moog’s design features a zerk fitting, to allow the joint to be greased, and to let out the old grease and dirt. This will extend the life of your ball joints, by making sure that they can be regularly serviced.
- 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 – Another feature of Moog’s problem solver ball joints is the powdered-metal gusher bearing, which replaces that old polymer socket. This bearing is porous, so that grease may flow freely through the joint and maintain its lubrication. Unlike the polymer bearing, it is durable and with the greaseable feature, will ensure that you are getting the most out of your joint.
- Forged Knurled Housing – The knurling (the textured pattern on the outside of the housing) allows the arm to grip the ball joint. This ensures that you will have the tightest fit, where your ball joint meets the control arm.
Over-Sized Ball Joint Option
When you have had and used your truck or SUV for a long time, there can be a little wear in the space that holds your ball joints, causing it to hollow out. Moog knows and understands that this happens and that those replacements can be more costly. Moog presents an oversized front lower ball joint, which is the same part as the K8695T, but has a larger diameter housing. This oversized joint makes it so that if where your ball joint and arm meet is a bit worn, the ball joint will still fit snuggly, whereas your only other option would be to buy a completely new arm which can be costly. This part has the same exact features and fits into control arms with 1.749 to 1.753 inch diameters.
Moog Limited Lifetime Warranty
Moog’s Problem Solver line of ball joints, are made to be OE “replacement” parts. The OE design is taken and upgraded with improvements to produce a better than OE replacement joint. These joints are sure to last longer than an OE ball joint will. Moog’s limited lifetime warranty includes vehicles that still have their stock suspension, vehicles not used for extreme driving, and vehicles not used for racing.
Moog offers a limited lifetime warranty on the problem solver ball joints, but they allow dealers to set the limits of the warranty. Some dealers will give you the runaround and tell you to call Moog who will tell you to call the dealer back. 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.
When all is said and done, you need to know that you can trust the parts in your truck or SUV to be reliable, with the things that you love most. Moog’s K8695T ball joint is a good replacement that fixes known flaws in the OE part and comes with premium features that are an upgrade from the original. Moog’s joints are tested and proven to perform better than OE and they are even backed by a limited 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 your Element can drift to one side or the other since the ball joint helps hold the position of the wheel.
- “Clunking” – This is a noise that you’ll start to notice when your ball joints become loose. The looser your joints, the louder the noise.
- 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 – Tire wear can be an indicator that your ball joints are worn down. When your joints rack up high mileage, they can move around in the socket, which will mess up your alignment. If your tires look more worn on the inside or outside edges, you might have some failing ball joints.