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Moog ball joint disparity

I recently purchased two Moog Problem Solver ball joints from Rock Auto. One of them was nice and stiff with the boot firmly in place and pre lubed. The other ball joint moved loosely with a separated boot which looked like it should be installed by the user. It also was not pre lubed. Otherwise they appear to be form, fit, and function parts.

Curious about the differences I went to the local auto parts to inspect their Moog Problem Solver ball joints in stock. The two I inspected are like the “nice and stiff” ball joint with the boot firmly installed.

I don’t have a ton of experience with differences that may normally occur when ordering parts.

My initial thought is that someone may have ordered a Problem Series ball joint from Rock Auto, as well as an R-Series joint (Moog’s less expensive China made variety) and then returned the Problem Solver box with the R-Series ball joint back to Rock Auto to save a buck.

Does anyone have experience with part differences like this?

The ball joint should not move freely as a brand new part. There may be variations in design but the joint should be stiff. Mistakes do occur. When in doubt; Return it.


Would I be out of line asking " Did you call Rock Auto ? They can set your mind at ease or replace the parts.

No. I should’ve added that I called them. The guy wasn’t sure about this particular part, though kindly offered to replace it in typical Rock Auto fashion.

I’m curious if it’s normal for parts to vary like this.


No. …


You sure it’s new? Or even a Moog part?

I worked retail back in college. The number of inventive ways lowlifes would come up with to steal was amazing. Return fraud was particularly popular. Wasn’t uncommon to get a drill returned, then open the box and find a brick in its place.

If I saw something like that, I’d immediately suspect someone had screwed Rockauto.


Thanks folks. This pretty much confirms much suspicion.

I really appreciate it!

We use a lot of Moog parts for our fleet vehicles

And I can tell you that Moog changed their boot design in the recent past. And I mean to say that it’s significantly different. The new design looks downright wrong and defective, until they’re installed and pumped full of grease. Inside the box was a slip of paper, complete with illustrations, which explained the changes

I’m not the one working on your car, and I don’t know how loose that ball joint was, but I can’t condemn it from cyberspace

But I’m also not doubting your diagnosis, for what it’s worth

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Thanks db4690. That’s good to know, and what I was wondering about.

It’s clear when +1000 lbs of force is loaded on the ball joint it shouldn’t matter how loose it is out of the box. Though, I was really surprised at the difference in the “cosmetic” difference in quality. Particularly in how loose the boot fit on the suspect part. Like you stated it feels wrong. Though it may not matter in function.

There was no paper slip that explained the changes in the box. Had that been there it’s unlikely I would’ve posted the original question.

Not sure if CarTalk allows posting of videos. If not, I’d be happy to send you a video of both units to you.


I think I’m with Shadowfax. When I was buying AC filters, one of the clerks warned me to check inside the box to make sure someone didn’t do a switcheroo. I guess I’d at least want two to match. Nothing against Moog, maybe they have different grades, but I had a one year old tie rod break off on me. Maybe 30,000 miles. I also had a ball joint that lasted about a month. They replaced it. So I dunno maybe the consumer grade is different.

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I don’t know if the joint is switched or the old design. I could imagine someone doing this at a retail store, but if you’re returning it by mail to Rockauto, you’re out the postage which I would think would negate the savings by switching parts.

I replaced my complete tie rod assemblies and idler arm last year with Moog problem solvers. After one year, the parts now look like they are 30 years old. They are totally covered with crusty rust. The original tie rods I took off didn’t look this rusty and they were 20 years old. Considering these Moogs cost as much or more than the OEM, I won’t be buying them again.

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On the rare occasion I return parts, they always check to make sure that I didn’t return old parts. They also check the new ones when they sell them to me.

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A lot of companies source parts overseas rather than manufacture the parts themselves. Quality control is not usually good unless the company owns the manufacturing facility. As far as someone returning a used part, people try, but it’s one of the oldest tricks in the (parts business) world. Most returns are carefully scrutinized. And, it’s usually the repair shops that are the worst offenders. They’ll buy a part and when it doesn’t solve the problem, return it as new.

In my experience, it’s usually the diy guys . . . the ones using a $50 or less code reader and who’ve watched a youtube video to become an “instant expert” . . . who are the worst offenders


I was in the auto parts business for many years, so I stand by my statement. It was not unusual to have a shop buy 5 or 6 thousand dollars a month and return 2 or 3 thousand. Retail customers were told of the almost no returns policy, but because we (and most parts businesses) depend on shops for most of their business we had to just smile when a mechanic returned a greasy and obviously installed computer or fuel pump.

I’ve purchased parts from parts stores that turned out to be not what the box said they were. Wrong part number, etc. I’m guessing the parts got switched accidentally, either by the parts store who was showing several versions to a customer and didn’t get them back into the correct box, or by a customer who mixed them up before returning them. Most recently that happened with an ignition rotor. Probably not a scam, but I’ve taken to checking the part inside the box matches the outside of the box before I leave the store when I can.