Page 1 of 5 12345 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 82

Thread: Ball joints, tire wear, steering wheel vibration!

  1. #1
    Van Enthusiast
    My Van(s):
    1987 4x4 van (almost)
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    portland/soon philly
    Posts
    129
    Rep Power
    1

    Ball joints, tire wear, steering wheel vibration!

    Folks-

    I've got a problem I'm trying to figure out.

    In the last year I've been having issues with steering wheel vibration at speeds over 55 or so. It doesn't seem to be due to the quality of the roads either, sometimes I'll be at 55-60 on a so-so road and the vibration is minimal/non existent, and sometimes on smoother roads it might vibrate.

    I suspected tires at first. I have a set of Hankooks on that I didn't rotate for a long time, I bought them new in Oregon and put close to 7k on the vehicle. So I took the van in and had the tires balanced and rotated.

    And guess what, at first the ride seemed worse! I hardly ever have to go over 55 here so it hasn't been a big deal but when I get on the Interstate its nice to hit 60-65 without the vibration.

    So, today I went out and rotated my own tires. I noticed that the left front tire was very worn on the outside edge only. No other tire showed strange wear patterns, which is funny because if the tires were rotated before then there should be another tire with wear too, right?

    Anyway a light bulb went off as I realized that the LF side is where I was told I had a bad lower ball joint. Could this be my issue? It hasn't been anything that's bothered me so I never thought about having it fixed. I was hoping it might just be an alignment thing but I hate to pay for an alignment only to have it be not the problem!

    Any thoughts? thanks!

    Mark in Maine w/ '87 4WD LE

  2. #2
    Administrator timsrv's Avatar
    My Van(s):
    Lots of them
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    SW WA ST
    Posts
    3,125
    Blog Entries
    14
    Rep Power
    10

    Re: Ball joints, tire wear, steering wheel vibration!

    Any time there's an irregular tire wear issue you should take it in for an alignment. I don't know where to go to in Maine, but here I recommend Les Schwab. Les Schwab will align the vehicle for $50. Part of the alignment is checking critical components (like ball joints & tie rods). One thing I like about Les Schwab is they don't charge unless they make an adjustment (alignment is free). Due to liability reasons, if they find a part that's bad or worn beyond acceptable limits, then they won't adjust (it's still free).

    Since you already know the lower left ball joint is bad, then it's a no-brainer (replace it already). After replacement take the van in for an alignment. Putting it off will cost you more in the long run (tires are expensive). Having an alignment issue will also decrease your gas mileage. Worn parts (like ball joints) make it impossible to accurately align a vehicle and improper alignment is the #1 reason for irregular tire wear. This is the reason many people (myself included) have their vehicle's alignment checked EVERY time new tires are installed. Tim

  3. #3
    Van Enthusiast
    My Van(s):
    1987 4x4 van (almost)
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    portland/soon philly
    Posts
    129
    Rep Power
    1

    Re: Ball joints, tire wear, steering wheel vibration!

    Well I think an alignment is in order, yes.

    The lower ball joint I've known about but because I didn't notice any problems due to it being bad I never looked in to fixing it.

    I have to say the procedure seems straightforward EXCEPT for the several "SST" required and also removing the steering knuckle seems a little tricky, does it need to come off for just replacing the lower?

    thanks!

    mark

  4. #4
    Van Enthusiast
    My Van(s):
    88 4WD DLX 5spd
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    263
    Rep Power
    1

    Re: Ball joints, tire wear, steering wheel vibration!

    Mark - If one lower ball joint is bad, don't take chances, replace both sides, they are relatively cheap and I guarantee you will notice a huge improvement in handling with fresh joints in there.
    Noises over bumps will be significantly decreased as will the the crosswind effect.
    I couldn't believe the difference when I did mine, night and day.
    They are easy enough to check as well but if they are original, it is a no brainer.
    Just remember the proper procedure for checking and don't confuse it the way I did.

    I was jacking up the lower arm and levering between tire and road and of course everything seemed fine as the joint was under load.
    In reality, you have to lever between the rim and the lower arm, because the "spring" is on the upper arm.

    Ignore the manual when it comes to procedure, there is absolutely no reason to pull the spindle.
    I used a ball joint press and a hammer (back off the nut, load up the joint, then give it a whack) then unbolt the base and remove.
    While the press may have been overkill I had less chance of whacking something important and could easily see when the joint separated.
    IIRC, it was necessary to disconnect shocks and sway bar ends to get enough movement from the lower arm though.

    BB

  5. #5
    Van Enthusiast
    My Van(s):
    1987 4x4 van (almost)
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    portland/soon philly
    Posts
    129
    Rep Power
    1

    Re: Ball joints, tire wear, steering wheel vibration!

    Funny thing is, I feel like the van handles really well right now and I don't notice noises going over bumps, maybe my stereo is turned up too loud!

    Anyway I haven't checked the ball joint myself but I had the van in to a shop in Philly last year to check out a different problem he said the ball joint was bad, and I just made a mental note, and now with the the whole worn tire on that side well it seems kinda like the problem....

    By the way, it seems Rock Auto doesn't have any options for lower ball joints for 4WD, I do think the part number for Toyota is 43330-29165 and Toyota Parts Zone has that one in for $60 or so.

    mark

  6. #6
    Administrator timsrv's Avatar
    My Van(s):
    Lots of them
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    SW WA ST
    Posts
    3,125
    Blog Entries
    14
    Rep Power
    10

    Re: Ball joints, tire wear, steering wheel vibration!

    The number you posted is the old number for the right hand lower joint. The current part numbers are 43340-29116 for left hand lower and 43330-29166 for right hand lower. $60 is a pretty good price for a Toyota joint. Looks like the lowest price on www.rockauto.com is about the same as Toyota. FWIW, these are MOOG Part # K9531 (left lower ball joint) & MOOG Part # K9529 (right lower ball joint). Since price is a wash, I'd go with Toyota.

    I replaced the factory ball joints on my 89 2wd cargo van at around 130k miles. They were still pretty tight, but I just decided it was time. I got some Beck Arnley joints on a rockauto close-out sale for $7 each. During a random check at around 150k miles I noticed the lower right ball joint had almost 1/2" vertical play in it . So I ended up changing it again. Moral of the story, I would rather have spent the $60 for Toyota and saved the trouble of doing it again. I had purchased a bunch of the $7 ball joints & needed the van the next day, so I grudgingly put another Beck Arnley joint on it. I had saved the original joints and was very tempted to put them back on. I'm guessing my experience was a fluke, but time will tell. Tim

  7. #7
    Van Enthusiast
    My Van(s):
    88 4WD DLX 5spd
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    263
    Rep Power
    1

    Re: Ball joints, tire wear, steering wheel vibration!

    Mark - I have found that it is always best to double check what I have been told by "experts".
    If you check it (follow the procedures in the manual and you can't go wrong) YOU will know exactly what and where the faults lie.
    If a joint is out of spec, it needs to be changed, regardless of how it drives.
    You may also find that everything is tight and all you need is an alignment.

    For what it's worth (and I used to be the guy selling alignments) my own personal rule of thumb is that if it goes straight, steering wheel is straight and there is no abnormal tire wear, I leave it alone.
    However, if there is a problem with any of those conditions, then I check everything before going after alignment.

    If you hit something, hard enough to throw off the alignment, then something is damaged and those parts should be replaced, if possible.
    If something is worn enough to affect the alignment then that part(s) should be replaced BEFORE any adjustments are made.
    Also be aware that other systems can have an effect on tire wear as much as joints and specs.
    A seized slider, blown shock, toasted sway bar bushings and even torsion bar adjustment (ride height) all work together and must all be correct
    All of them can affect tire wear.

    Bottom line is get in there yourself, check everything and correct was isn't right and then free up the tie-rods and camber/castor adjusters....
    Just mark everything before you start and put it back to where it was when your done.
    It may take you a couple of hours but will save you large when it comes rack time.
    I have seen more parts damaged beyond repair by techs that don't take the time to properly free something and destroy it in the process as well as bills that have HUGE extra charges to "free" stuff up that was never seized in the first place.

    While I realize there are more honest techs than dishonest, you don't want to find out the hard way and when dealing with older, obscure vehicles the probability of issues increases dramatically.
    My own experience with fr end/alignment techs has been sketchy at best and I have learned to cover my bases before hand.

    BB

  8. #8
    Van Enthusiast
    My Van(s):
    1987 4x4 van (almost)
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    portland/soon philly
    Posts
    129
    Rep Power
    1

    Re: Ball joints, tire wear, steering wheel vibration!

    Ah, well I have to say I know very little about front end stuff.

    As far as alignment goes I can say that the van has always driven straight and true when it comes to the "hands off the wheel" test. That's why I never had an alignment done to begin with.

    First thing I'll do for sure is check myself that the lower ball joint is bad, later today when I have a moment.

    If its bad I'll get the OEM joint for sure.

    I've seen a posting on the other site about doing the 2WD upper/lower joints. How different are the 4WD as far as procedure? It seems the FSM breakdown is fairly complicated. How easy can I make it if I just want to replace the lower, not the upper?

    thanks for all the help so far,

    mark

  9. #9
    Administrator timsrv's Avatar
    My Van(s):
    Lots of them
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    SW WA ST
    Posts
    3,125
    Blog Entries
    14
    Rep Power
    10

    Re: Ball joints, tire wear, steering wheel vibration!

    On the 4wd the uppers are not removable.............you don't change the uppers unless you change the entire upper control arms. I haven't checked cost and availability lately but I'd expect them to be over $250 each (if available).

    I can't remember the exact procedure for replacing just the lower joint on a 4wd, but it's all pretty straight forward. I've had the entire suspension apart on these numerous times and nothing really stands out. Just take off what you need to. If something gets in your way then take it off too. Aside from the normal hand tools you should have a "pickle fork" to help separate the bad joint from the spindle assy. Most tool rental places will have these.

    Here's the business end of a pickle fork:



    The rest of it is just a shaft. You drive it into the joint with a hammer to separate it from the spindle. There are other ways, but IMO this is the easiest & most reliable. Tim

  10. #10
    Van Enthusiast
    My Van(s):
    88 4WD DLX 5spd
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    263
    Rep Power
    1

    Re: Ball joints, tire wear, steering wheel vibration!

    The only thing I don't like about pickle forks is they REQUIRE replacement of the joint as they always destroy the boot.
    I usually use the 2 hammer method (big hammer on the back, whack with a big hammer on the front) but used the little pressing tool as I was afraid I may slip and ding something.
    The theory is the hammering on the joint flexes the hole and as long as you have tension on the joint in the correct direction, it will separate.
    Using a balljoint press frees up a hand and puts the load in the correct direction instead of trying to hold a hammer on the backside while prying down on the control arm and whacking the front side.
    There isn't a lot of room there to begin with but I tend to save any parts that aren't toast just in case of future need.
    If only the LS is bad (and the RS wants to be saved for the just in case scenarios), the pickle fork will render the "good side" scrap as well.
    I only have a 4WD, so what I said earlier is what I did to replace mine.
    You don't need to disturb the upper at all.

    But Tim has it right, only disturb what you have to, go slow and be methodical.

    By all means use the pickle if it makes life easier, I have just always found the other method easier with less chance of problems.
    I have run into a few that even with the pickle, refused to budge,but have never had the same problem with the 2 hammer method.
    But to each, their own.

  11. #11
    Administrator timsrv's Avatar
    My Van(s):
    Lots of them
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    SW WA ST
    Posts
    3,125
    Blog Entries
    14
    Rep Power
    10

    Re: Ball joints, tire wear, steering wheel vibration!

    Yeah, the pickle fork is hard on boots, but anytime I use it I've pretty much already decided to replace the joint anyhow. I've used the hammer method too, but not crazy about putting dents in the spindle........probably inconsequential, but I still don't like it. I've worked on rigs before that had torn boots from past mechanics using a pickle fork. They are a little messier (as they ooze grease) but for the most part they still do their job of keeping the dirt/grit out & most of the grease in. Like you said "to each his own". Something about whacking that pickle fork with a BFH makes me all happy inside . Tim

  12. #12
    Van Enthusiast
    My Van(s):
    1987 4x4 van (almost)
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    portland/soon philly
    Posts
    129
    Rep Power
    1

    Re: Ball joints, tire wear, steering wheel vibration!

    Okay, surprise surprise. I got under the van an unweighted the front wheels, went through the standard checks for the upper and lower ball joints. They all checked out!

    I thought I had checked these before when I was dealing with some wheel noise, but I couldn't be sure, so when this mechanic said I had a bad one I was surprised.

    So at this point I think I'll just get a free alignment check w/ the local Tire Warehouse, then I can get another opinion and go from there.

    thanks!

    mark

  13. #13
    Van Enthusiast
    My Van(s):
    88 4WD DLX 5spd
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    263
    Rep Power
    1

    Re: Ball joints, tire wear, steering wheel vibration!

    Mark - When you say "standard tests" for the ball joints, just be aware that if you lever between the ground and the tire (with the wheels unweighted) you wont see any play in the lowers.
    Because the spring acts on the upper and the lower ball joint is "upside down" you wont see any play in a bad joint using that method.
    My reason for harping on this point, is I did it wrong several times before reading the manual one day and had a eureka moment.
    It was only when I followed the manuals procedure that I found they had play, and LOTS of it.

    That is why you MUST lever between the RIM and the lower arm.
    As long as you did that, your good to go.

    BB

  14. #14
    Van Enthusiast
    My Van(s):
    Blue 1987 4wd 5-speed Hi/Lo Manual Hubs
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    oregon
    Posts
    185
    Rep Power
    1

    Re: Ball joints, tire wear, steering wheel vibration!

    tituswilltoyota(formerly 1sttoyotaparts) has the 4wd upper control arms for $326.93, each!!! Well they say they have them, don't know if they really do.

  15. #15
    Van Enthusiast
    My Van(s):
    1987 4x4 van (almost)
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    portland/soon philly
    Posts
    129
    Rep Power
    1

    Re: Ball joints, tire wear, steering wheel vibration!

    Well the people who did the free alignment check tell me I've got a loose bearing on the passenger side and a loose tie rod on the passenger side.

    The wheel bearings I just did and it is possible the passenger side has loosened up, I'll check shortly.

    Tie rods I know nothing about. The procedure in the FSM seems pretty straightforward, remove the the tie rod from the knuckle and then replace, then have the alignment done? If there's more please let me know.

    Obviously I'll get the front wheels off the ground tomorrow and verify the tie rod is in fact loose before I proceed.

    Hopefully I get this squared away without too much trouble!!

    thanks,

    mark

  16. #16
    Van Enthusiast
    My Van(s):
    1987 4x4 van (almost)
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    portland/soon philly
    Posts
    129
    Rep Power
    1

    Re: Ball joints, tire wear, steering wheel vibration!

    I wouldn't click on that last post!

    Anyway, I did some checking today and my passenger side wheel bearing had loosened a little, I tore it down and got it to factory spec again, I know this wasn't my steering wheel shake/tire wear problem but since the line up shop said they wouldn't align the van with the loose bearing it had to be done.

    I did some checking on the tie rod ends. The outer on the driver side seemed fine, I couldn't see any play. The inner is covered by that rubber so I wonder how does one "see" if the inner has play? For sure there's a sort of clicking/knocking that can be heard and felt around that inner, I tried the other side of the car and both tie rods seem fine but you could still "feel" the knock of the other tie rod (if thats what it is?)

    Anyway, any other good ways to check this out? I've read the inners can be a pain to get out, some people mention using a pipe wrench to assist?

    Also, does a new rubber come with the new inner tie rod or is that a separate item?

    And, if the outer is still okay, how do I get it off the knuckle without destroying the rubber? Seems like a fork tool might mess up the rubber there.

    Any tips would be awesome, I'd love to get this all squared away!

    thanks,

    mark

  17. #17
    Van Enthusiast
    My Van(s):
    1987 4x4 van (almost)
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    portland/soon philly
    Posts
    129
    Rep Power
    1

    Re: Ball joints, tire wear, steering wheel vibration!

    Oh, one other thing.

    I've been having a hard time finding options for new inner tie rods (87 4x4).

    Rock Auto has some very cheap "service grade" Raybestos for $12 and then some "pro grade" ones for alot more.

    What is the Toyota part number for this just to know the price?

    Money is tight, would the cheapo ones be okay or just a total waste of time?

    thanks,

    mark

  18. #18
    Administrator timsrv's Avatar
    My Van(s):
    Lots of them
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    SW WA ST
    Posts
    3,125
    Blog Entries
    14
    Rep Power
    10

    Re: Ball joints, tire wear, steering wheel vibration!

    The left tire rod assy is Toyota part #45460-29295 MSRP is $122.63. TitusWillToyota.com has them for $88.48. If money is tight then go with the cheapo one. Worst that can happen is you might be doing the job again in a couple years (rather than 25 or so with a Toyota part). Tim

  19. #19
    Van Enthusiast
    My Van(s):
    1987 4x4 van (almost)
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    portland/soon philly
    Posts
    129
    Rep Power
    1

    Re: Ball joints, tire wear, steering wheel vibration!

    Thanks for that info Tim.

    I've also read about folks upgrading the tie rod ends on earlier models to the ones used on the '89's. I know I'd have to get both and inner and outter but if it makes a big difference then it might make sense. But would steering be funky if I had the '89 ends on one side and the originals on the other?

    Probably I'll just buy the $12 cheapo and have at it. I'll learn something new and hopefully fix a problem and save my tires.

    thanks,

    mark

  20. #20
    Administrator timsrv's Avatar
    My Van(s):
    Lots of them
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    SW WA ST
    Posts
    3,125
    Blog Entries
    14
    Rep Power
    10

    Re: Ball joints, tire wear, steering wheel vibration!

    I've never messed around with modding the tie rods/racks on these vans. I've only replaced the parts that were called for. Not sure what might be involved with switching to 89. Good luck. Tim

Posting Permissions

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