Ball joint blues


My right front axel was replaced July 22 and my car passed inspection at a different service station the following week. Yesterday I was driving about 30mph, went over an undamaged manhole cover and all of a sudden I was sliding across the road with my tire completely sideways. My ball joint broke, which broke my axel and the wheel dented the car. I have only driven about 1100 miles since the repair and inspection. My questions are: Is the ball joint something that the garage would have noticed when they were changing my axel? Is it possible that my ball joint could have become damaged that quickly after my inspection 9 weeks ago? Thank you for any help!


Also, my car is a 1996 Honda Accord.


I’m not sure if replacing a half-shaft on your Honda requires separating the ball joint from the hub. On most FWD cars, the lower control arm is unbolted from the frame and the hub swung out to provide room to R&R the axle shaft, leaving the ball joint intact…Did the ball joint actually fail, or did the nut that holds it in place in the hub come off? If it broke, half the joint will be in the hub and the other half will be in the control arm. If the nut was left loose or not cotter pined, the entire joint will be intact in the control arm…

To answer your question, Yes, the shop should have noticed a badly worn ball joint because they were working in that area. The State Inspector, well they seldom check ball joints regardless of what they claim…


There are different methods for doing an axle change. Generally the lower ball joint is separated from the steering knuckle and this will allow enough movement to slide the axle out of the hub.

The ball joint would come apart for two reasons. One is that someone inadvertently forgot to tighten the stud nut on the ball joint, or two, it was flat worn out and just finally decided to give up.

A ball joint can fail anytime, even on a low miles vehicle. A lot depends on if the dust boot stays intact, climate (northern rust belt), how much driving through deep water and dirt roads is done, etc.

How many miles on this car?


Here is a picture of a ball joint showing the stud nut and the cotter pin that secures it. If the nut comes off, the hub (steering knuckle) is free to fold under the car. This is NOT ball joint failure.


It is not necessary to remove either upper or lower ball joints on this model honda in order to change the axle. It is only necessary to remove the tie rod end. As for whether the mechanic should have noticed the eminent ball joint failure, it would depend on how it failed. If it was worn out, then the mechanic should have noticed. If the ball joint cracked at the base of the ball or if the swedged in retainer pulled out, maybe not.


I wonder if the tie rod broke or came loose first because of the “tire sideways” comment. I’ve only seen wheels fold up or down with ball joint failures but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen to go sideways. Maybe the OP’s definition of sideways is different than mine too. Anyway, they worked on the tie rod end for sure so that would be my first suspect.