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#1763443 - 01/31/10 07:59 PM Clunk noise after installing ball joints-Pics
Jimmy9190 Online   content


Registered: 02/17/07
Posts: 2983
Loc: Clermont, Florida
I installed new lower ball joints on my Dodge Dakota, 2 wheel drive this weekend. The originals were riveted in place and I drilled out the rivets and put in the new TRW's with nuts and bolts ans washers. Drilling those rivets out was very hard but I got it done. To get at the original ball joints I removed the calipers, rotors and disconnected the sway bar links and outer tie rod ends then I removed the steering knuckles. All it took to pull the knuckles was a few whacks with a BFH.

I reassembled everything and the truck steers fine but now there is a clunk type noise in the front end when I go over a bump slowly, as in turning in to the driveway, or when making slow turning moves in a parking lot. There is no noise present when driving down the highway and normal 30-40 mph speeds. I put it back on jack stands and checked everything and can not find anything wrong. I also wound up replacing both sway bar links, one had a ripped boot (Napa warrantied it for me) and the other, well the threads on the control arm end stripped out and I could not get it bolted in so I bought a new TRW one from AAP.

The new ball joints are greaseable, I greased them just until they started to bulge. Is it possible I didn't put enough grease in the boots and that causes a clunk noise?

I have linked a few pics of my work here. I don't know what is causing this noise and I really would appreciate any help you can offer.

http://img109.imageshack.us/i/009xg.jpg/

http://img109.imageshack.us/i/011ybz.jpg/

http://img3.imageshack.us/i/012htb.jpg/

http://img222.imageshack.us/i/007kn.jpg/

http://img189.imageshack.us/i/008ps.jpg/

http://img21.imageshack.us/i/005yr.jpg/
_________________________
Jimmy9190
2001 Dodge Dakota, 3.9 V6, 5-speed manual, 170K
Peak 10W30, Fram PH16


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#1763615 - 01/31/10 11:36 PM Re: Clunk noise after installing ball joints-Pics [Re: Jimmy9190]
berniedd Online   content


Registered: 03/24/08
Posts: 347
Loc: A Warm place to live in
Hmmm, I would suspect the source to be either the upper ball joint or shock absorber. I'ver read owner reports of a suspension noise going away after replacing a ball joint that didn't feel to be worn out. By the way, is that a ripped rubber boot I see in the steering tie rod end?

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#1763617 - 01/31/10 11:42 PM Re: Clunk noise after installing ball joints-Pics [Re: berniedd]
Jimmy9190 Online   content


Registered: 02/17/07
Posts: 2983
Loc: Clermont, Florida
That's not the tie rod end with the ripped boot. It is the sway bar link. Shocks have about 15000 miles on them and a tire store told me my upper ball joints were OK. I'm taking it to them tomorrow to see if they can tell me what's wrong.
_________________________
Jimmy9190
2001 Dodge Dakota, 3.9 V6, 5-speed manual, 170K
Peak 10W30, Fram PH16


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#1763780 - 02/01/10 07:27 AM Re: Clunk noise after installing ball joints-Pics [Re: Jimmy9190]
eljefino Offline


Registered: 06/15/03
Posts: 23697
Loc: ME
I bet it's sway bar related. Crank the steering wheel end to end, parked, should sound and feel perfectly smooth now with your new BJs.

I think the tight bushings of your new sway bar ends exacerbated a problem with, say, the frame bushings of your bar.

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#1763825 - 02/01/10 08:02 AM Re: Clunk noise after installing ball joints-Pics [Re: eljefino]
Jimmy9190 Online   content


Registered: 02/17/07
Posts: 2983
Loc: Clermont, Florida
There was no clunk noise before I did the lower ball joints. A tire store told me the uppers were OK but the lowers were shot. They couldn't get it aligned right and checked the lowers and they had a lot of slop, probably half an inch of up and down movement on the tire. The only thing I can think of is it was harder to get the sway bar link re-installed on the right side. Left side went back in just fine, but I had to use a pry bar to get the right side in the hole on the sway bar itself. I also think it has to be something with the sway bar, but there was no noise or clunk present before I started this whole ordeal. I'll try the end to end steering test. Thanks for the help.
_________________________
Jimmy9190
2001 Dodge Dakota, 3.9 V6, 5-speed manual, 170K
Peak 10W30, Fram PH16


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#1763957 - 02/01/10 09:32 AM Re: Clunk noise after installing ball joints-Pics [Re: Jimmy9190]
Trav Offline


Registered: 11/20/06
Posts: 9411
Loc: MA, Mittelfranken.de
Recheck the sway bar links,make sure they are tight,some manufacturers specify tightening the upper nut on that type when the weight of the vehicle is on the suspension.Also look at the control arm bushings,it wouldn't be the first case of a weak bushing letting go when the arms are moved more than usual during service,not common but it happens.Upper ball joints?


Edited by Trav (02/01/10 09:32 AM)
_________________________
ASE L1, Master. Deutsch Meisterbrief.

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#1763973 - 02/01/10 09:43 AM Re: Clunk noise after installing ball joints-Pics [Re: Trav]
mechtech2 Offline


Registered: 09/05/06
Posts: 19479
Loc: Chicago Area
At first guess, I also have to go with sway bar links.
They need a bit of compression , so tighten them and see if that fixes it.
But an upper strut mount may be faulty.

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#1764527 - 02/01/10 04:42 PM Re: Clunk noise after installing ball joints-Pics [Re: mechtech2]
Jimmy9190 Online   content


Registered: 02/17/07
Posts: 2983
Loc: Clermont, Florida
I also thought it had to have something to do with the sway bar links. A clunk type noise when going over bumps and speed bumps was the reason why I replaced them 2 years ago. Napa warrantied the left link for me due to a ripped boot. The right link stripped out the threads on the control arm end of it when I removed it. Try as I might I could not get a nut back on it when reinstalling it. Now I knew Napa would not honor the lifetime warranty on their sway bar link because of stripped threads, so that's why I just bought the TRW link from AAP yesterday.

Here's where it gets interesting. I had some difficulty installing the AAP link yesterday/last night. I compared it to the stripped out Napa part in the store and they looked the same. The AAP parts guy compared them too. I put on the new TRW part as tight as I could. It appeared the shaft end was seated in the hole on the control arm like it should be. When I drove it last night there was a pretty bad bump/clunk noise when turning and going over bumps. This made me think something could also be wrong with the new ball joints I had worked so hard to install, or maybe the uppers were toasted too.

I took the day off work today and took another good look at the whole front end. The Napa sway bar link didn't look the same on the truck as the AAP one. I removed the AAP one and compared again to the Napa part, there was an obvious difference in the length on the control arm ends and the round joint end was larger too. So I went back to AAP and we looked at the receipt, made sure it was the right part number and all that. Then we compared the part I bought yesterday to a Moog link, they appeared the same. The AAP guy then got another TRW link and I finally noticed that the one I bought yesterday had a different curve in it than the other TRW part from the shelf today. One curved towards the stud end for the control arm and the other one curved away from it. So they exchanged the parts for me and apolgized for the mistake. It was a classic case of the wrong part in the right part numbered box.

I got back home and put the new link on, it fit exactly like it should. I took a test drive and there were no more bumps or clunk nor any noise of any kind. I went on to the tire store where I have a 3 year alignment policy that doesn't expire until November this year. They aligned it for me, the steering wheel is perfectly centered and straight and the steering is nice and tight, and is just as responsive as a new truck. That was the reason I replaced the ball joints, after rotating the tires two weeks ago, the steering wheel was crooked. I had not noticed any noise/bump or loose steering problems. The alignment guy at the tire store showed me the bad ball joints and said there was no way to align it properly and straighten the steering wheel until the ball joints were replaced.

So the moral of the story is, when buying parts get a really good look when comparing the old to the new. The other moral of the story is this was a very hard job to do, drilling out the rivets and installing new lower ball joints with nuts and bolts. Add to it the aggravation of having to exchange and R&R the sway bar links and it became a real irritating experience. I broke a lot of drill bits and my knuckles look like I was in a bar fight but I persisted and was very patient with the job and myself and I won the battle of the ball joints. It probably would have cost 700 or 800 bucks in parts and labor to do what I did for about $210, which includes the cost of the cut off wheels, electric right angle grinder, right angle drill and a 7/16" cobalt drill bit I had to buy, $106.00 for the new TRW ball joints and $24.00 for the new sway bar link from AAP. It would still have cost at least 350 or 400 bucks per side if I had paid a shop to replace the whole lower control arm assemblies.

I'm glad I was able to get this fixed myself. Thanks everybody for the help here.
_________________________
Jimmy9190
2001 Dodge Dakota, 3.9 V6, 5-speed manual, 170K
Peak 10W30, Fram PH16


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#1764562 - 02/01/10 04:58 PM Re: Clunk noise after installing ball joints-Pics [Re: Jimmy9190]
eljefino Offline


Registered: 06/15/03
Posts: 23697
Loc: ME
Now could you imagine if you used those chinese ball joints? LOL. Glad there's a happy ending.

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#1764614 - 02/01/10 05:35 PM Re: Clunk noise after installing ball joints-Pics [Re: eljefino]
Jimmy9190 Online   content


Registered: 02/17/07
Posts: 2983
Loc: Clermont, Florida
Yeah I read some REAL horror stories online about OE brand cheap made junk parts. No way would I ever use that junk.
_________________________
Jimmy9190
2001 Dodge Dakota, 3.9 V6, 5-speed manual, 170K
Peak 10W30, Fram PH16


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