2003 Chevy Trail Blazer - 4WD, 110,000 miles


#1

Hello. I would like opinions on the price quoted to repair/replace the following items on the vehicle mentioned above: Both upper ball joints and both lower ball joints with control arm brackets; sway bar link(2), outer tie rod end (2); output shaft seal and pinion shaft seal. Cost, including labor is $2,300. Reasonable or not?
Thanks so much for any opinions given!


#2

Go here, http://repairpal.com/estimator, and enter your information.

It depends on where you live and who does the repairs.

Tester


#3

Thank you. I will check it out. The estimate was given by a local repair shop in Michigan, just FYI.


#4

That’s just about every part in the front end. I find it hard to believe all that has gone bad with only 110,000 miles. I’d get a second opinion.


#5

GM trucks are well known for the their cheap suspension/steering components from the factory.

The OP is lucky to have gotten that many miles from the original components.

Tester


#6

At least it would all be taken apart and aligned just once. Might as well throw in struts too when its all apart.


#7

How does that repair cost compare to the value - to you or on the market - of this 12+ year old vehicle?

What symptoms led to having the diagnosis done? A noise, a vibration, pulling to one side, uneven tire wear…?

Returning the front end to like-new condition may be far beyond what’s needed to keep the vehicle safe and roadworthy. A simpler repair could be all you need.


#8
GM trucks are well known for the their cheap suspension/steering components from the factory.

The OP is lucky to have gotten that many miles from the original components.

Well, then maybe I should be buying a lottery ticket? not. I’ve owned two of them so far, both far exceeding the mileage shown here and I PLOW SNOW with them in the winter. If the designs/materials were so inherently weak, I doubt they would have survived this kind of abuse. From my own experience and that of other owners, the TB is a fairly robust truck, just wish it got better gas mileage :wink:


#9

Thank you all for your comments, I will get a second opinion. Twin Turbo, I agree regarding Trailblazers - I still have my 2002 with 204,000 on it! I love it.


#10

Well my experience, pinion seal leaking turned into bad bearings and a $1200 repair. Done more sway bar links than most cars, but at 171k and 12 years old part of maintenance. No ball joints, at 171k, A second opinion is needed. But I was looking for a replacement vehicle, an suv cannot tow a boat, had to put $800 into replacing rusted out ps hoses, but there are not many options out there anymore for a tow vehicle for the boat. So I will keep doing what I can, but it may be time to blaze the trail


#11

That would be a pretty pricey quote if presented to me for my Ford truck. I’ve changed the truck’s rear pinion seal and it wasn’t an overly difficult job. Tie rod end, same thing, fairly simple job. Never had to change the ball joints though. Maybe part of the extra cost is your Trail Blazer is differently configured than my truck. The experts here have told me that some truck differentials are considerably more difficult to work on than the Ford 9 inch version. Still it seems like a pinion seal wouldn’t be that big of a job.

What about the output shaft seal? Maybe there’s a lot of work for that. That’s the transmission output shaft seal? Or the transfer case output seal? It’s not the rear main seal of the engine, right? Depending on which seal it is, it could be the xfer case or the transmission has to come out, which would up the ante. I’m thinking though it’s the xfer case rear seal, which shouldn’t cost too much to replace, likely only requires the rear drive shaft be removed, which is has to be anyway for the differential pinion seal probably.

For the ball joints, I’m seeing about $250 for both upper and lower (not certain, presume that is for the set, upper/lower both sides parts cost, as you’d usually replace them in pairs) , and – wow – 7 hours of labor for both sides, upper and lower. So you’d be looking at over $1000 just for the ball joints. So add together the pinion seal, the output shaft seal (whatever that is), the tie rods, and the ball joints, maybe the $2300 is about the right amount to expect to pay for this job. In fact, the more I look at it, $2300 starting to look like a bargain … lol …


#12

Yeah, they’re swapping out the entire front suspension. The lower ball joints can be pressed out/in but they are replacing the entire arm w/preloaded new ball joint. Depending on labor costs, they may say this ends up saving money since they swap out the entire assembly. Parts cost higher but labor lower…ask them for a comparative cost on just replacing the bad joint.

You might ask them if they are recommending to replace all of this stuff because the truck has 100k miles and they already have it apart to do the pinion work or have they determined that parts are actually failing. I suspect the former. On these trucks, the upper ball joints seem to last forever, the lowers are more susceptible. Having both sides, top and bottom go bad at that mileage (unless you’re off-roading it for example) is highly suspicious to me…


#13

I’ll go a little off topic

I recently did a scheduled maintenance on a 2004 Ranger with less than 20K

Both lower ball joint boots torn. One of them is sloppy

One tie rod boot torn. Both of them are sloppy

One upper ball joint boot torn. In other words the arm, since the joint isn’t available separately in this particular situation. I’m no fool, and know that with a torn boot, dirt has probably gotten in and grease has leaked out. It would be mighty silly to not do the arm, have the alignment done, only to have to replace the arm soon afterwards. And do yet another alignment. Same goes for the lower ball joint with the torn boot, the one that currently isn’t sloppy.

And the upper intermediate steering shaft is clunking

So . . . lower ball joints, tie rod ends, one upper a-arm and a steering shaft. Plus an alignment afterwards

OP’s situation doesn’t look so bad, considering they got fair usage out of their truck. Unlike the one I’m working on

By the way, the operators of this truck actually take good care of it. They keep the tires inflated, keep the fluids topped off, etc. They clean the interior and exterior, which is pretty rare. Most operators drop off a filthy truck, inside and out. They don’t go over particularly bad roads. The components simply had a relatively short life


#14
GM trucks are well known for the their cheap suspension/steering components from the factory.
The OP is lucky to have gotten that many miles from the original components.

Well, then maybe I should be buying a lottery ticket? not. I’ve owned two of them so far, both far exceeding the mileage shown here and I PLOW SNOW with them in the winter. If the designs/materials were so inherently weak, I doubt they would have survived this kind of abuse. From my own experience and that of other owners, the TB is a fairly robust truck, just wish it got better gas mileage

Based on several people I know (about 5) with GM trucks…everyone had ball-joint failures before 6 years old. Two went with aftermarket parts (Moog)…and didn’t have any more problems.


#15

The “lubed for life” components are a great selling point when new but for the long haul they are a designed in failure. If a needle is used to occasionally inject grease into the boots of ball joints, etc., the parts might outlast the rest of the truck.


#16
Based on several people I know (about 5) with GM trucks...everyone had ball-joint failures before 6 years old. Two went with aftermarket parts (Moog)...and didn't have any more problems.

How many of those were actually Trailblazers?


#17

One at least one…might have been two. Do a google search…many multiple people reported problems with premature ball-joint failures on the whole GM truck line…especially their SUV’s.


#18
If a needle is used to occasionally inject grease into the boots of ball joints, etc., the parts might outlast the rest of the truck.

In case anyone wonders what that looks like:


#19

I have to use one of those to inject the drive-line u-joints w/grease on my truck. Nothing else will fit through the access space to the grease fitting.


#20

@MikeInNH

Please define “premature”

Please define “failure”

I’ve got my own ideas, but I’d like to hear your definition(s)