Ball joint replacement?

Hi All. I have a 2001 Dodge Stratus, 2.7L V6 with about 140K miles. I recently took it in for some suspension work-- replace struts, bushings, and insulators. It still had the original components, or what was left of them. When they did a general inspection, they told me I should also consider replacing my ball joints.

I had taken the car to three different mechanics in the past year, including the current guys, for various things (new tires, new alternator, general service), and none of them had mentioned anything wrong with my ball joints. When I asked the current guy if it was a safety issue, he insisted it was not, twice, and said that I could delay this (after I became skeptical of paying $600+ on top of the $1100 they were charging me for the other stuff).

Now I’ve lost all peace of mind. I’ve heard horror stories of ball joints going bad and wheels coming off, but I can’t get over the gut feeling that I was being upsold unnecessary repairs. For the past 40K or so, the car was mostly driven on freeways, straight driving, nothing fancy. Likewise, I feel like I would have gotten some mention of my ball joints from the other mechanics, or from these guys when they were putting on new tires just a few months ago.

He showed me that the ball joint on the rear tire was a bit loose when he wiggled the wheel while it was up on a lift, and given the age of the car, I’m sure they’re not perfect. But is this something I should be concerned about? Should I get a second opinion on the next service (~3 months), or try to save on labor and have them switch them out now? Also, is it normal for ball joints to wear out at this mileage/age, especially since I’ve been driving on a shot suspension for a few years now?

Appreciate any advice.

You have no ball joint on the rear.
Are you sure he didn’t say bearing hub.


If you need an upper ball joint, replace the ball joint.

The upper ball joint is the only serviceable component on the upper control arm. And if the ball joint fails and damages the control arm, then that’s big bucks.


The guy who told you, twice, that worn ball joints are not a safety issue is dead wrong; and a snapped ball joint can leave the occupants of the car dead all depending.

If the ball joint is loose it needs to be replaced and odds are the other side is worn to some extent also.

It can be normal for ball joints to wear out at 140k miles or even far less. It all depends upon the rest of the suspension, the environmental conditions, and the road surfaces.

I replaced mine at about 105,000. I had my tires balanced and they mentioned the ball joints which were integral with the control arms. I went home and looked up the part then called to have it done the next day for $600. Mine is mostly highway too but they still get a workout. Geez it was nice to just have someone else do it. Guess I’m getting lazy.

I never had to replace a ball joint when they had grease fittings. Now they are lubricated for life -the life of the grease.
If the mechanic can show you the movement, and you can see it, you need the ball joint. If you can’t see it ,even when he shows you where to look as he tries ro move it, he just needs a boat payment.

Yep, I just replaced all my ball joints on my Explorer and the replacements all have zerk fittings, even the tie rod ends. Should last the life of the truck.

“I never had to replace a ball joint when they had grease fittings.”

I wish that I could say that.
I can vividly recall that my father’s '63 Plymouth needed a lower ball joint replaced at ~20k miles, when it was no longer covered by warranty.

Now here’s a bad ball joint (note how he raises the hub to release tension on the ball joint):

Am I wrong about not banging on cast iron with a hammer? I always thought you could damage the casting that way and instead should have banged on the ball joint stud or used a puller.

I’ve beat the crap out of cast iron brake drums to get them off and never hurt 'em.

I don’t believe that any of the suspension components are cast iron. They all appear to be steel.

The steering knuckle on that Dodge is cast iron. I laughed when I saw the you tube guy banging on the knuckle with the hammer, to bust the taper. It works, but I’ve also seen guys miss and hit the fender. Ouch. I always use a ball joint popper, or a tie rod popper, whichever fits best. But not the pickle fork, unless I’m going to be replacing that joint or arm

That Dodge suspension setup doesn’t appear very easy to work on. That’s a lot of stuff to remove, just to remove the arm, replace the upper bushings, etc.


If the guys who designed those cars were forced to work on their own concoctions, it would be a lot different


I use a 5 lb hand sledge hammer on the steering knuckle to pop tie rod ends.

One or two good smacks and that sucker pop’s out!


Just want to say, thanks for all the great responses-- I went ahead and had them switched out. May as well fix it all the way if I’m already getting the other stuff done. And avoiding possible certain death is always a plus.

You did the right thing. On the news a few years ago here in OK they reported that a woman driver in a Buick was killed when her car exited the highway on a sweeping curve and rolled.
The cause was reported to be a snapped ball joint.

Not many years ago a guy in front of me in a Dodge pickup lost a ball joint at about 65 MPH and luckily for him he suffered no damage. The truck, the highway surface, and the barbed wire fences did suffer; especially the truck which sat there in the ditch for over a week.


I’ve also used big hammers, and it usually only required a few good whacks

But I’m always mindful of what is in the vicinity, in case I miss . . .

I’ve seen guys miss, and mess up fenders, rotors, etc.