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Are all Ball Joints Created Equal?
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captainpartytime
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2008 9:53 pm    Post subject: Are all Ball Joints Created Equal? Reply with quote

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Motivated by Chris' upper control arm bushing thread http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=272333 I've decided to overhaul the front end on my '82 diesel westy. My question is...with all the upper ball joint choices, what do the pros (you guys) recommend? There is such a variation in price I want to make sure I'm putting on a quality part. Below is a break down of prices from different online venders:
Go Westy $49.95
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

TRW (rockauto.com) $42.79
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

Spicer (rockauto.com) $40.79
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

Moog (rockauto.com) $37.79
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

Van-Cafe $24.95
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

Bus Depot $22.29
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

Beck/Arnley (rockauto.com) Closeout Reg.$41.79 Now $17.91
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Any thoughts?
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Alan Brase
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 12:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually, the only way these things fail is when the boot gets bad- then the water gets in and they fail.
Normal life on the OE ones should be in the 200k mile range, maybe more.
So, my point is, probably any of them will last a good long time. If you could determine which has the best rubber, that might tell you which one will last longer.
BTW, a couple of years back, I had a Meyle upper ball joint that was made wrong and bent the opening on the control arm when I installed it. I got a Febi one. I had to heat and bend the upper arm back where it got bent.
Really, buy it where you like doing business. I think Moog and TRW might be the same part. Seems like they do some trading on domestic parts.
Al
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?Waldo?
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 6:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had the boot crack on one within 6 months of new. I don't remember the brand.

Andrew
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Christopher Schimke
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 9:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I went with the Febi's this time simply because I was curious about that clear boot. Even though Van-Cafe's picture shows, the black booted Meyle(?) brand, they have the Febis in stock.

That clear boot is kind of weird. It seems plenty pliable. I guess we'll see how it stands up to repeated cycling.

By the way, A A. Scribbly and DC are correct about the boot being the deciding factor for an upper ball joint. The upper ball joints have very little load/pressure applied to them. So them of course, it comes down to keeping the grease in.

Lower ball joints on the other hand, have LOT'S of load applied to them. I have Meyle brand lower ball joints and one of them has started to get loose after only 20,000 miles. The boot is in great shape, but there is noticable slop between the ball and socket.

To date, I have had four upper control arm bushings, one upper ball joint, one lower ball joint and a clutch disk, all Meyle brand, fail or wear prematurely. Maybe I'm just the unlucky one, but I'm not very happy with the Meyle brand lately.
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tencentlife
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 9:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I had the boot crack on one within 6 months of new. I don't remember the brand.


Same here. I installed new UBJ's when I got the van because I saw torn boots. Within months the new boots were also gone.

Ten years and 125000 miles later I replaced them again, not because they were loose (they weren't), but just to see if another set might keep its boots on longer.

So far, so good, but my first replacements went in the trash so I also don't know the brand.
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Alan Brase
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 11:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wonder if the boots are available separately? I could change a boot in 20 minutes from in the door to out the door. Most of the time getting it jacked up and the wheel off. Lower jints, however are a different matter!
Al
tencentlife wrote:
Quote:
I had the boot crack on one within 6 months of new. I don't remember the brand.


Same here. I installed new UBJ's when I got the van because I saw torn boots. Within months the new boots were also gone.

Ten years and 125000 miles later I replaced them again, not because they were loose (they weren't), but just to see if another set might keep its boots on longer.

So far, so good, but my first replacements went in the trash so I also don't know the brand.

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83 1.6TD Vanagon, 87 Wolfie Westy daily driver, swap meet home
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captainpartytime
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 4:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, Al, Chris, Andrew, 10c (don't know your true identity) all in the same post. When I asked for experts I didn't expect to get ALL of you! Thanks for the comments, I really appreciate your help. I think I'm going to try and buy the Beck/Arnly's and install them on my 82 diesel westy and get the GoWesty's (the clear cover intrigues me) and install them on my 89 7-passenger. Even though it's not a true test since the cars have different steering characteristics (power steering vs. no power, westy vs. passsenger, 14" wheels vs 15") I'll see how the boot holds up. Chris your curiosity is contageous!
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tencentlife
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 7:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm Chris, too.
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Alan Brase
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2008 8:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

captainpartytime wrote:
Even though it's not a true test since the cars have different steering characteristics (power steering vs. no power, westy vs. passsenger, 14" wheels vs 15") I'll see how the boot holds up. Chris your curiosity is contageous!

I suspect that the environment that they live in might be the biggest variable. So yours might be a fairly good control, if they are both parked and driven in the same air. No, if you took the late model only to the desert, and th 82 only down the Alcan highway, that might make a different outcome.
We will be looking to hear from you in about 10 years to hear the outcome of this test! (God willing, that we are all still here!)
Al
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 14, 2009 3:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Any updates?

I'm doing my big brake kit have my uprights off so I thought it's time to throw new parts on.

Has any one used LEMFORDER parts?

I'm looking for the best not the cheapest part.

For control arm bushings the brands I found are,

FEQ
OEQ
AFTERMARKET
VAICO.

Any input would be appreciated.
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germansupplyscott
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 14, 2009 9:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

stay away from anything made by FEQ. i have yet to see a VW part made by them that wasn't substandard.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2009 11:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have a set of PEX Achs, made in germany, waiting for instal. anyone know of these?
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kayakwesty
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2009 6:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I got some Beck-Arney...prob didn't spell that right and they were a POS.

I now have MOOG's and they have been excellent

here is a mod I did to them

http://www.kayakwesty.com/baljoint.html
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2009 8:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gotta love the GoWesty prices! Whooo-weee!
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riceye
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 7:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm bringing this back up because I, apparently, have worn upper ball joints. I decided to take my Westy in for an alignment, just because I've never had one done, and my steering wheel is a tad off center (less than one spline). The alignment shop is the best around, and I trust their judgement completely. As a rule, I'm very critical of repair shops, and do all work myself. Alignment is one of the few things that I entrust others to do for me.

The thing is, I installed the current pair of upper ball joints less than two years ago. And the upper control arm bushings are fresh, as are the KYB shocks. Less than two years and 15,000 miles and they are shot. Damn!

The ball joints were purchased from Van Cafe, and carry the Sterex brand name. The box says that they were manufactured in Denmark.

I'm kinda pissed that I have to replace them again. This time I'm buying Moog. I've never had to replace a Moog part that I've installed.

I'm done ranting, now. Thanks for listening. I think I feel better.
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 8:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kayakwesty wrote:

here is a mod I did to them

http://www.kayakwesty.com/baljoint.html


Thanks for that tip kayakwesty. I did the grease fitting too. I thought what can it hurt? I bought but didn't need the starter tap. There was enough room to get past the taper on the standard tap before bottoming out in the joint.
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 5:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey Kayakwesty and vinnyvango,
I like the zerks install; But I'm curious, how do you effectively get all the little metal shavings out after drilling / tapping so they really last? If I ever get all the other issues worked out, this is an improvement mod I would like to do.
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 5:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

kayakwesty wrote:


I now have MOOG's and they have been excellent

here is a mod I did to them

http://www.kayakwesty.com/baljoint.html


I take it that drilling and tapping them has not introduced any metal shavings to the inside? May I ask how many miles you have on them so far? The mod looks promising.
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riceye
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PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2009 9:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wanted to post a follow up after having the alignment done, and putting on a few miles.

I replaced the sloppy ball joints with a pair of new Moog (the box said "made in Germany") ball joints, and I did take the time to drill, tap and install a grease zerk in each one. Thanks for the tip! I talked to Chris at Van Cafe, and he requested I send the removed ball joints back, that they would make good on them. We were both puzzled by the fact that they had sold me Sterex ball joints. He thought they only sold Febi.

When I took the van back to the local independent alignment shop, they were able to complete their work without any problem. In fact, the owner offered that the steering and suspension looked great. And, she goes down the road rather like riding a rail. It seems I have to try to make it wander.

I asked the owner of the shop the question about wheel bearing adjustment, and his reply was that they aim for zero clearance and zero load. I suspect I was very close to that point with my adjustment which, if you recall, was about 1/4 flat tighter than the Bentley recommendation. Just enough to take up any play.

This week I had work that took me about 45 miles from home at highway speeds, which was a great chance to check and see if there was any heat build-up in the hubs from the wheel bearings being too tight. When I arrived at my destination, and also upon returning home, I checked the hub temperature with my calibrated forefinger. The metal was only slightly warm to the touch. Not over 120 degrees F, for sure. I found that touching the lug bolts in my 16x7.5 alloys yields pretty much the same temperature as the rotor hub itself. And much easier to access.

We're looking at a 3000 mile tour west next week, and due to my OCD, I suspect I'll be checking the temperature of the lug bolts at every fuel stop.

Unless I back off the adjustment nuts 1/4 flat each. What say you?

Thanks!
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I find that things usually go well right up until the moment they don't. - Ahwahnee

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 2009 5:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wanted to chime in here as well for future searchers. I installed new upper ball joints on my syncro from Bus Depot in January this year.

The brand was PEX. 6 months and 3000 miles later (all highway) the rubber boots are completely separated on the bottom and sliced open on the sides. Junk.

The ball joint is completely exposed to the elements.

I will be replacing them with a higher quality part asap.
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