+ Reply to Thread
Results 1 to 8 of 8
  1. #1
    wicked94pgt
    Guest
    Location
    , ,
    Member No: wicked94pgt's Avatar


    Yes | No

    do tie rod ball joints typically go bad?


    Are they usually fine unless the boots are compromised?

    I'm going to try to loosen the adjustment nut before I go in for an alignment, and replace them if they're seized.

    Maybe I should just replace them anyway to get the fresh ball joints and skip wrestling with corroded threads?

    213k, not sure if they've ever been replaced. I picked this one up at 170k. I'm guessing they've never been replaced.



  2. #2
    Registered Member
    Location
    , ,
    Member No: 17062 JKRIT is on a distinguished road JKRIT's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Posts
    2,203
    Rep Power
    18


    Yes | No

    Re: do tie rod ball joints typically go bad?

    The story I have usually gotten during an alignment is that the tie rods need to be replaced because they are frozen and cannot be adjusted, not because the ball/socket has worn out. I am pretty skeptical about that story, but I haven't torn the steering apart myself to debunk it.
    '03 525i Sapphire Blu/Grey, SP, Nav
    '01 325it Steel Blu./Blk
    '98 323is Arctic Sil./Blk, SP
    '95 M3 Cosmos Blk./Blk

  3. #3
    wicked94pgt
    Guest
    Location
    , ,
    Member No: wicked94pgt's Avatar


    Yes | No

    yea that's my impression as well


    Replacing the control arm ball joints, esp the outer, is routine. But I've not heard much chatter about the tie rod ball joints.

    I guess I'll give mine a squeeze with the pliers and go from there.

  4. #4
    robertplattbell
    Guest
    Location
    , ,
    Member No: robertplattbell's Avatar


    Yes | No

    A short history of ball joints


    Back in the day (like 1920) most cars had a ton of various ball and socket type joints, as well as other fittings that required constant lubrication in order to work properly.

    Most of these has bronze or other types of metal bushings and would quickly disintegrate if not lubricated.

    During a typical "lube job", every 1500 miles, a mechanic would attack the 20-or-so grease fittings ("zerk" fittings) under a car and lubricate all of them.

    Some higher-end cars might be equipped or retrofitted with "automatic chassis lube", which basically was a dashboard mounted grease gun (in the chauffeur's compartment, of course), connected to all the zerk fittings in the car by a bundle of steel tubing and rubber hoses. Every so many miles, the driver could give the chassis lube handle a couple of pumps and lubricate the car while underway.

    Yea, it was that important, keeping those things lubed.

    By the 1950's, the number of lubrication points on a car had dropped to a half-dozen or so. But the rise of independent front suspension meant that upper and lower ball joints were now the norm. And the old recirculating ball gear steering systems usually had at least four tie-rod type joints to lube.

    In the early to mid 1960's, zerk fittings started to disappear from ball joints and tie rod ends (and u-joints and other fittings). New types of metals and plastics were developed, some self-lubricating (graphite impregnated bronze, teflon impregnated plastics). These were sealed from the factory and were good for 50,000 miles or so.

    Since then, the trend has accelerated. Today, a zerk fitting is hard to find on an OEM joint. My 1995 pickup had them on the ball joints, tie rod ends, and even U-joints. But that was probably the last of the "old school" technology.

    Today, ball joints, CV joints (U-joints are hard to come by anymore) and tie rod ends are "sealed and lubricated for life".

    Whose life? Well not yours, of course. And not the life of the car. They are sealed and lubricated for the life of the PART.

    The parts are fairly cheap, and the logic is that it is cheaper to replace the parts after 70,000 miles than it is to lubricate them every 3,000 miles. And with the high-tech designs, so long as they remained sealed, they will last a pretty long time.

    However, you may notice (or may not, if you bought the car when it was old) that the steering will lose that precise feel that a new car has, over time. Even the smallest amount of slop in a tie rod end or a ball joint will equate into a lot of slop in the handling. Rubber bushings, as they degrade, also add to the problem.

    If the tie rods look tight and don't seem ready to fall apart and cause a catastrophic accident, they are probably serviceable. For a car of this age (and appallingly low retail value) you certainly can be excused for not replacing these parts and just living with a bit of sloppy handling. These cars are largely beaters at this point.

    That being said, I also would say not to bother with alignments, unless you are experiencing alarmingly weird handling or severe tire wear (and by that, I don't mean the normal inside wear in the rear due to negative camber). Tire stores like to sell alignments as though it is something you need to do every X miles. If the car is treated properly and not driven through too many potholes, etc., it shouldn't need an alignment very often - if ever.

    BTW, how you drive the car affects how long these suspension components last. If you take every off-ramp as a max-G cornering test, it will wear more on all of these components.

    Good Luck.


  5. #5
    robertplattbell
    Guest
    Location
    , ,
    Member No: robertplattbell's Avatar


    Yes | No

    about the only time you need an alignment....


    About the only time you need an alignment is when you replace these components.

    And be careful of where you take it. Some shops (like tire stores, etc.) will do more harm than good.

    I remember one shop had this computerized alignment machine. The tech was supposed to enter the VIN number of the car and it would call up the correct alignment specs.

    I was appalled to see him enter blank fields for the VIN number and then align every car that came in to "standard" generic alignment specifications.

    I was watching him do this with my car (no wonder they don't want you wandering around the service area) and said "nice try".

    Most of these guys don't want to do anything other than toe-in anyway, as attacking rusty old bolts on cars can sometimes cause more harm than good.

    I remember getting one car back and the steering wheel was sideways when you drove. I took it back and he said that was "cosmetic" and that making the steering wheel straight would cost "extra". Again, I told him "I don't think so".

    I took the truck in for an alignment, for the first time, at 100,000 miles. It drove OK, but I (mistakenly) thought it would need it, after so much time. When I got the truck back, it drove worse than before - wandering all over the road. The "tech" claimed it needed more toe-out.

    Finding a good (and reasonably priced) alignment place is problematic. If the car drives OK and the tires are not tearing their tread off, sometimes it is best to leave well enough alone, particularly for a car with 200,000 miles on the clock.

    Good Luck.

  6. #6
    Registered Member
    Location
    , ,
    Member No: 17062 JKRIT is on a distinguished road JKRIT's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Posts
    2,203
    Rep Power
    18


    Yes | No

    and they charge extra because it's a BMW

    The last time someone told me that, I asked if they charge extra because all they could adjust on the front end was toe-in. I'm with you, though: I haven't had an alignment on any of our BMWs in a long time. Just watch the basics like steering response, steering wheel position and tire wear.
    '03 525i Sapphire Blu/Grey, SP, Nav
    '01 325it Steel Blu./Blk
    '98 323is Arctic Sil./Blk, SP
    '95 M3 Cosmos Blk./Blk

  7. #7
    robertplattbell
    Guest
    Location
    , ,
    Member No: robertplattbell's Avatar


    Yes | No

    Four wheel alignment


    Well, I think you can adjust the rear toe-in also. And you can buy those aftermarket bushings which can be turned to adjust camber.

    Sometimes you can move the struts slightly to adjust front camber as well.

    The biggest indicator of alignment problems are weird handing and odd tire wear. Too much toe out, for example, can cause some scary steering.

    Most of the time though, both weird handling and odd tire wear are a sign of suspension components in need of repair, not just an alignment.

    The local tire store (NTB) used to say that you'd need an alignment every time you put new tires on the car. Like I said, they throw it on the rack, make a simple toe-in adjustment (or not) and say "Well, it needed a little tweaking" and make you think you got you $29.95 worth or whatever (whatever they could sting you for).

    And legally, they could say that an alignment is a "good idea" and thus not get sued for fraud or anything. Good idea? I suppose so. Necessary? Only if your old tires are worn oddly.

  8. #8
    wicked94pgt
    Guest
    Location
    , ,
    Member No: wicked94pgt's Avatar


    Yes | No

    I already swapped the CAs, CABs, and RTABs


    So everything's pretty fresh now. I did not mark the parts very well. I was planning on getting an alignment anyway. I think it was already out of whack before I changed those parts too.

    My steering wheel is pitched about 10-degrees left to drive straight and it feels very twitchy. I did have the wheel off once but I'm pretty sure I got it back on the right way. I mean, it's not really that hard.. And even if I missed I'm sure it wasn't more than one spline.

    And, my new tires with 7k miles on them are already tapered on the inside edges on the FRONT. I'm not sure how much of that, if any, can be attributed to the ramps.. I've been running them at 35-37 lbs in an attempt to mitigate that. Any insight?

    The other big wrench in all this is that I already had it in for the alignment, but they were not able to finish it because - get ready - the batteries in the alignment pods weren't taking a charge!

    Part of that attempt included replacing the rear eccentric bolts. At the point when the batteries gave out, the rear had already been aligned. Up front they had loosened the front end parts, so they had to eyeball it. I have this feeling that you can't really "eyeball" it, or if you can, they didn't do it that well. You get the idea though.

    The shop I take it to know's what they're doing and has the primo equipment (batteries aside). My buddy is a tech there too so he makes sure they don't screw with me. You pay for it though - $150. At this place, they actually charge less for BMWs... $250 for Porsches!!

    That said, I think I'm going to try a different shop that's a little smaller, has the superior skills and equipment, but I think a little more personal pride in their work. I talked to them and he said it'd take ~2.5 hours if he needed to replace the tie rods, and ~$80 for each tie rod. I should be able to save myself about $300.

    Given all that, I'm just going to replace them myself before I get stuck with that bill. If new ball joints sharpen the steering further then it'll be worth it for that alone.


+ Reply to Thread


Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

     

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may post new threads
  • You may post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
1e2 Forum