Ball joint problem so soon?

civic
honda
struts
mechanics

#1

My 2012 Honda Civic, with 71000 miles, is showing obvious signs of ball joint problems - a rattle at speeds over 50mph, and LOTS of noise when I go over a bump. I had a quick oil change yesterday, then immediately noticed the problem. Brought it back to the manager of the shop, who looked at it and couldn’t find a problem (naturally). He said that the car would pass inspection with flying colors.

Is this a coincidence? Could I have worn ball joints on a car that’s 2.5 years old? What could these people have possibly done to cause this problem? Could it be struts? The winter has created frost heaves which turned my street into a third-world road, and the car was involved in an accident 1.5 years ago when some lady ran a red light on me. I welcome all thoughts, and advice.


#2

Or course. The type of use and the roads you travel have a lot to do with suspension wear. If those 71k miles have a lot of rough road at higher speeds, it is not unusual at all.


#3

All this occurred right after an oil change? Ball joints don’t suddenly rattle, its a gradual process that comes on slowly. They don’t rattle anyway, at worse, they knock if they make any noise at all before failure.

I don’t know what an oil change place could do to make a rattle just by doing an oil change unless someone left the old oil filter sitting on the skid plate. Worse case I can think of is they used the wrong size oil filter and it is hitting something. If thats the case, you will find out soon enough when the oil filter case breaks open and dumps all your oil and your engine seizes up.


#4

Where do you live? This winter has taken a heavy toll on roads - and thus on car suspensions.

I’m confused about who did what and the timing of things. Are there two places here? The oil change place and “the shop” where you talked to the manager? Or is “the shop” also the oil change place?

Did you only start noticing these noises after the oil change?

In any case, was this a “quickie lube” type of place? What you need is a good local front end /alignment shop. I don’t know what will make the car “rattle” over 50, but that’s not how a bad ball joint shows itself. If its more like a growl or whine or something it might be a wheel bearing, but that won’t make “lots of noise” over bumps. Have you happened to check your spare tire set up for a loose tire or jack?


#5

The rattle you describe sounds more like a stabilizer rattle than a ball joint problem, but sitting in front of a computer it’s impossible to tell. You’re going to have to have the car inspected (starting with a test drive to duplicate the complaint).

Age isn’t the factor here, mileage and usage is. If that 71,000 miles consists of lots of bad roads, potholes, and bumps, worn parts aren’t at all unusual.


#6

“Age isn’t the factor here, mileage and usage is. If that 71,000 miles consists of lots of bad roads, potholes, and bumps, worn parts aren’t at all unusual.”

I agree. I replaced all the ball joints on my 2002 Dodge Dakota at 56K. The lower’s were shot but I replaced the upper’s because I didn’t want to take chances. They never made any noise that I was aware of…but my front tires were wearing in an odd pattern.


#7

It’s entirely possible to have all kinds of suspension and steering problems even at a much lower mileage due to environmental conditions and road surfaces.

The type of noise has not been clarified but what about the possibility that if the oil change was done on a lift the suspension dropped and that in turn caused a strut to go south? That’s not unheard of and even happened with one of my cars a few years back.
I raised the car to change the oil one weekend and immediately afterwards the left front was banging with the ride similar to a ping-pong ball. The left front strut (only 40k miles) gave up that quickly.


#8

Okay, thanks for the input. The oil change and the shop are the same place. Nothing was unusual before the oil change, and the problem began immediately following the oil change. It seems like an incredible coincidence. It is a Valvoline quickie place. Not done on a lift. My feeling is that the road conditions are only bad in the last 8 - 6 weeks. Otherwise, everything was normal for southern NH. But, and there’s no doubt about it, the street I live on is effing horrible thanks to the winter.
Took a drive today on highway. The first half of the trip, at 58 mph, was godawful noisy, all from the front end. It sounded at times like popping corn, at times like aluminium foil shaking. The second half of the trip, hours later, was significantly better. Almost never heard the noise.
What the hell happened?


#9

The fact that this began right after the oil change is quite suspicious. I hope you at least checked the oil yourself?

I’m not quite sure what to say about it, except that I would take it to a local, independent shop asap to ask them to look it over. It could be a coincidence, but you can’t go on that assumption. It might also be as simple as someone left a splash shield loose or left a tool someplace under the hood. (I have returned a tool or two to a shop after finding them under the hood). It might be - well, something bad. You need a second and independent set of eyes on it.


#10
I agree. I replaced all the ball joints on my 2002 Dodge Dakota at 56K. The lower's were shot but I replaced the upper's because I didn't want to take chances. They never made any noise that I was aware of....but my front tires were wearing in an odd pattern.

That doesn’t count. That generation of Dakota had notoriously weak balljoints from the factory (ask me how I know).


#11

Most full service shops raise cars on lifts to change the oil as opposed to driving over a pit in the quick lube stores. Lifting a car with the wheels hanging lose can cause a badly worn strut mount to become noisy.