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Old 10-17-2011, 10:29 AM   #1
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Default Ball joint life

As I was crashing over bumps and getting airborne in two places at Harris Hill I had a revelation, how long are these front lower and upper/control arms going to last? They are OE from 1991, have about 200-hours of track time on them, and I enjoy living. When should I replace thee or am I crazy?
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Old 10-17-2011, 10:41 AM   #2
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I have considered the same for my race car, but the only answer I get is that "they are not sold in individually. Replace the complete A-arm". And then it starts to get tempting to look in this direction instead: http://www.flyinmiata.com/index.php?...umber=13-81100

Much interested to see if someone else have a (cheaper) solution.
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Old 10-17-2011, 12:06 PM   #3
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Uppers (according to some sources) almost never fail.

Tie rods and lowers get replaced when they get the boots BBQ'ed or when they get sloppy, whichever comes first.
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Old 10-17-2011, 02:19 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by cucamelsmd15 View Post
Uppers (according to some sources) almost never fail.

Tie rods and lowers get replaced when they get the boots BBQ'ed or when they get sloppy, whichever comes first.
Who are the sources that said the uppers never fail? I replaced my front uppers with another used set (chose the best two out of 4 no slop, but 2 were looser than the others).

I wrapped both ball joints and tie rod end boots with heat wrap tape.
See here:

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Old 10-17-2011, 02:29 PM   #5
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Uppers (according to some sources) almost never fail.
I would invite those sources to inspect the right upper on my '90. It's looser than Hustler's mom.

I've been passively pursuing a strategy of finding a way to service or replace it, but keep running into either dead ends or solutions which cost as much as a replacement control arm.
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Old 10-17-2011, 03:14 PM   #6
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Who are the sources that said the uppers never fail? I replaced my front uppers with another used set (chose the best two out of 4 no slop, but 2 were looser than the others).

I wrapped both ball joints and tie rod end boots with heat wrap tape.
Most the SM'ers I know, with the caveat below.

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I would invite those sources to inspect the right upper on my '90. It's looser than Hustler's mom.

I've been passively pursuing a strategy of finding a way to service or replace it, but keep running into either dead ends or solutions which cost as much as a replacement control arm.
Are yours new? Because most everyone I hear this from replaces the assembly once (because lets be honest, the 20 year old ball joints are looser than Hustlers mom ) and then forget about it as long as the boots are in good condition.
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Old 10-17-2011, 03:19 PM   #7
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Are yours new?
Nope. So far as I can tell, they're the original 22 year old joints with 212,xxx miles on 'em. The boots weren't even there when I bought the car (well, there were some bits of rubber which may have once been a boot still clinging on.)


Point is that they don't "almost never fail." Like any other mechanical part, they "always" fail. It's only a question of time, and of how you define failure (eg: my front right wheel hasn't fallen off yet, so in that respect, the ball joint has not failed.)
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Old 10-17-2011, 03:43 PM   #8
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Nope. So far as I can tell, they're the original 22 year old joints with 212,xxx miles on 'em. The boots weren't even there when I bought the car (well, there were some bits of rubber which may have once been a boot still clinging on.)


Point is that they don't "almost never fail." Like any other mechanical part, they "always" fail. It's only a question of time, and of how you define failure (eg: my front right wheel hasn't fallen off yet, so in that respect, the ball joint has not failed.)
Well, seeing as how this is "Race Prep", I don't suspect one would be tracking a car with 212,xxx mile old ball joints. That said, I think you'll have a hard time of finding one UBJ failure in either setting. Lowers and tie rods are the common failure points, for obvious reasons.
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Old 10-17-2011, 05:41 PM   #9
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Well, seeing as how this is "Race Prep", I don't suspect one would be tracking a car with 212,xxx mile old ball joints. That said, I think you'll have a hard time of finding one UBJ failure in either setting. Lowers and tie rods are the common failure points, for obvious reasons.
Try 184,000 miles and over 200-hours of track time. My car gets used...a lot.
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Old 10-17-2011, 05:49 PM   #10
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Well, seeing as how this is "Race Prep", I don't suspect one would be tracking a car with 212,xxx mile old ball joints.
It may be the Race Prep section, but it's the Race Prep section in a forum about cars which, for the most part, are all around 15-20 years old.

There are obviously exceptions, but very few of us are running on aftermarket welded tubular control arms with exotic hardware or other such fanciness. Mostly, it whatever parts were on the car when you bought it.
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Old 10-17-2011, 05:57 PM   #11
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Just because they don't go BOOM and your wheel comes off doesn't mean the ball joint doesn't need to be replaced. Worn out suspension components can cause exiting alignment numbers that change as you go thru corners.

So how/where/from who do we get new once? I am not happy about buying used once and just hope that they are better then the once I have (don't often get a chance to inspect stuff before I order it.
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Old 10-17-2011, 06:11 PM   #12
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I changed my lower ones at 190k. They weren't noticeably bad, I did it because they were old.

The price for an upper arm is nuts.
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Old 10-17-2011, 06:20 PM   #13
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I changed my lower ones at 190k. They weren't noticeably bad, I did it because they were old.

The price for an upper arm is nuts.
$220 from Mazdaspeed on the discount.
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Old 10-17-2011, 06:26 PM   #14
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As I have told hustler before, I have had a lower ballpoint fail on me while driving, thankfully at extremely low speeds. Driver front fell straight to the ground and tore the **** out of my wheel. Luckily I had skinny front tires or it would have smashed my front fender.

Oh and it really sucks getting a jack under a completely collapsed car. Mine had 160k and plenty of track time. IIRC I just bought replacements from NAPA, Mazda was way too pricey for a part so simple.
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Old 10-17-2011, 06:40 PM   #15
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Just because they don't go BOOM and your wheel comes off doesn't mean the ball joint doesn't need to be replaced. Worn out suspension components can cause exiting alignment numbers that change as you go thru corners.
Well, yeah. I was kind of joking about the "wheel falling off" part. My right-front has got several degrees of camber swing just from pulling and pushing the top of the tire with the car at rest. The forces at work *should* cause the camber to go more negative when that wheel is the outside wheel in a turn, so I just eyeballed it at appx 0 static until I can find a way to repair or replace the BJ. Honestly, it's not even a matter of $220 being a burden, it's more of a moral imperative.

Last edited by Joe Perez; 10-17-2011 at 09:14 PM.
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Old 10-17-2011, 07:46 PM   #16
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i would have guesses that hustler's ***** were indestructible?
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Old 10-17-2011, 09:08 PM   #17
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I haven't messed with my 99's suspension at all, but I remember reading somewhere that these work just fine but you may need to tack weld them to the control arm.

http://miataroadster.com/v8_roadster.../i-409013.aspx
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Old 11-06-2011, 11:20 AM   #18
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at $220 for normal a-arms, guess you should just go v8r tubular?
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Old 11-06-2011, 03:01 PM   #19
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at $220 for normal a-arms, guess you should just go v8r tubular?
That's the direction I'm leaning, but just the front uppers. I'd love to have the full set, but I'd also love to own a toter home, sex slave, and your mothers.
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Old 11-06-2011, 03:07 PM   #20
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If you replace the lowers, buy Moog units. I bought a set of the china specials and they last 300 miles. Yes, 2 tanks of fuel. You can replace the upper ball joints with V8R joints. I have them, but am not smart enough to set them correctly or I just suck at welding, but they still make a slight pop from time to time.
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