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Old 04-14-2013, 10:16 AM   #1
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Default Knuckle popping sound-what is it? How to fix it?

So, for a while now I have heard this knuckle popping sound. I hear it when backing out of my garage (slight 1/2" dropoff), and when easily coming to a stop sign.

Initially I thought it was my springs "settling." I have done the MSM coilover setup on my 1990 (bilsteins, sleeves, summit springs).

I went to my first autocross yesterday and had an absolute blast, but on tight left handers, the sound came from my left front side. And it was a prominent, loud, repeating sound.

I bring it home yesterday evening and take my wheel off, and when I moved the upper control arm up and down it makes that loose, popping sound. All bolts around the area are snug. It appears this boot has been split open and maybe lost all its grease? If you guys think this is it, what part do I need to order to replace it?

Thanks for the help!



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Old 04-14-2013, 11:28 AM   #2
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Ball joints are fairly cheap. Replace both sides - if one is shot, the other isn't far behind.
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Old 04-14-2013, 12:37 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by rleete View Post
Ball joints are fairly cheap. Replace both sides - if one is shot, the other isn't far behind.
Yea, I checked the right side and its boot has a slight split in it. Guess I'll look up some ball joints and order.

Is this a fairly easy install? Looks like I need to remove a few pins, then remove their respective bolts...
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Old 04-14-2013, 12:41 PM   #4
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Remove cotter pin. Loosen nut. Hit cast knuckle (the part the bolt goes thru) with a big hammer. Ball joint will pop right out.

Do NOT hammer down on the nut. That will only mushroom over the threads.

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Old 04-14-2013, 03:52 PM   #5
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Ball joints are fairly cheap. Replace both sides - if one is shot, the other isn't far behind.
Ok, so I've got in touch with some auto parts stores. The cheap ones are around $25 for their brand. I began to research these, and most guys running them are saying they break like 2 a year if they're not OEM. Have you had any problems with your "cheap" ones?

Also, it seems like guys with modded suspension such as ours are having problems with the ball joint? Guess this could be a reason for my failure, although I've only had my suspension on for 2 months.
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Old 04-14-2013, 04:12 PM   #6
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I put store brand in mine. No problems.
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Old 04-14-2013, 04:14 PM   #7
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I've heard a lot of bad things about non-OEM ball joints. I have heard success stories with Moog parts though. I ended up going with Moog lower ball joints and they've been on the car for ~10,000 miles now.
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Old 04-14-2013, 04:38 PM   #8
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Swaybar links that are worn or loose can also sound like that. Check them before you buy the bj's.
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Old 04-14-2013, 05:03 PM   #9
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True. But the ball joints are obviously shot.
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Old 04-15-2013, 09:10 AM   #10
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I have ebay ball joints on my 92 miata. They have made it 30k fine, but the car is not driven hard at all.
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Old 04-15-2013, 09:17 AM   #11
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I had a difficult time getting the "hammer the knuckle" method to work. If you do also, just go rent (or buy) a pickle fork and hammer the fork in. Gets the ball joint out faster than you can say tickles pickles.
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Old 04-15-2013, 10:17 AM   #12
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The service manual test for the ball joints specifies the following rotation torques:
-Lower: 4.3 to 13 in-lbs.
-Upper: 3.5 to 15.6 in-lbs.

You can accomplish the above by double nutting and using a small, in-lb torque wrench.

If torques are good but you have a ripped boot, you can buy new boots separately and replace them.

Usually, it's economical to replace the lower ball joint. The upper is part of the control arm (pressed-in and not serviceable). Given the price of control arms, you should save the upper ball joint and replace the boots if you can.

Separating ball joints is always a bit of a pain. The special ball joint separator tools work great -- but you need a different tool for each different shaft diameter -- and clearance can be an issue. The other methods (banging the side or pickle forks) require a BFH and beer. Gives you an excuse to pound on your car.
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Old 04-15-2013, 10:57 AM   #13
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i got mine from napa about 4 years ago, and they are still going strong
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Old 04-15-2013, 11:52 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Track View Post
I had a difficult time getting the "hammer the knuckle" method to work. If you do also, just go rent (or buy) a pickle fork and hammer the fork in. Gets the ball joint out faster than you can say tickles pickles.
No method worked for removing my old ones. I actually cut through them with an angle grinder. 300k miles in MD worth of driving on them had made sure they were going to be a bitch.
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Old 04-15-2013, 03:55 PM   #15
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Quote:
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No method worked for removing my old ones. I actually cut through them with an angle grinder. 300k miles in MD worth of driving on them had made sure they were going to be a bitch.
How big was the hammer you used? I am about 100% sure a bigger hammer would have worked.
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Old 04-15-2013, 04:09 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shuiend View Post
No method worked for removing my old ones. I actually cut through them with an angle grinder. 300k miles in MD worth of driving on them had made sure they were going to be a bitch.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Track View Post
How big was the hammer you used? I am about 100% sure a bigger hammer would have worked.
Or, more
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Old 04-15-2013, 04:49 PM   #17
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Quote:
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How big was the hammer you used? I am about 100% sure a bigger hammer would have worked.
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Originally Posted by hornetball View Post
Or, more
I used this hammer. You would be hard pressed to get a bigger hammer in there be able to swing. Also on one side I could not get the top castle nut off. The whole ball joint just kept spinning. I think I spent a total of about 3 weeks working on replacing the 2 ball joint. This was done in the evenings after I was done with work and school. You guys fail to understand what 18 years of salt and snow did to those ball joints.
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Old 04-15-2013, 05:02 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shuiend View Post
I have ebay ball joints on my 92 miata. They have made it 30k fine, but the car is not driven hard at all.
My ebay joints lasted under 1000 miles. It sucked. I have Moog units in the car now.
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Old 04-15-2013, 05:18 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shuiend View Post
I used this hammer. You would be hard pressed to get a bigger hammer in there be able to swing. Also on one side I could not get the top castle nut off. The whole ball joint just kept spinning. I think I spent a total of about 3 weeks working on replacing the 2 ball joint. This was done in the evenings after I was done with work and school. You guys fail to understand what 18 years of salt and snow did to those ball joints.
I don't know man, that sucks. I used the 4lb sledge. its got the bigger handle (bigger something god damn it). Also, I leave the BJ connected to the CA. Either way, you can safely smash on ball joints, just be careful not to fubar your brake dust shield
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Old 04-15-2013, 05:34 PM   #20
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Quote:
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I used this hammer. ... You guys fail to understand what 18 years of salt and snow did to those ball joints.
Nice hammer.

In addition to a BFH and beer, sometimes a third element is required . . . loud cursing.

Used to live in NE Ohio. I know your pain. You should see how clean the undersides of N. TX cars are. It's sick. I love it.
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