Problems with ball joint/Control arm

I was checking my daughter’s 2009 Cobalt LT over and discovered a ball joint I replaced a few months back in the summer was bad again. I figured it was a cheap part that I got off the internet, so I went to the local parts store and got one of theirs. As I was taking the ball joint loose, I noticed the control arm moving and found the bushing to be shot. I took the ball joint back and got the control arm instead. After putting it together, I noticed their was slack in the ball joint. After hours on the phone with the store and a little bit in the store, It was determined that the bolt supplied with the new control arm was shorter than the one from the old ball joint (the pinch bolt), so the parts house suggested using the old bolt. I went home and did that and everything seemed fine after some real wrenching to get everything tight. A week later, I take the car to the local tire/alignment shop to have them tell me the pinch bolt was loose and as they got it tight, it the nut stripped and suggested I replace the nut before alignment. I attempted to change the bolt with a m10x1.5x70 after getting the specs from an AC delco bolt on Ebay of m10x1.5.69.65 (or close to the 70). I got the bolt tight, put the wheel on, shook it, and there was slack. I continued to attempt to tighten it and never could get the slack all of the way out. I think I tightened to much and possibly stripped the bolt thread as the dang thing has slack again when there was almost none while trying to get it tight. Is my problem her driving it for a week when it was apparently loose damaged the new ball joint or is the problem a possibility of the knuckle being wallowed/worn out where the ball joint slips in and not allowing it to tighten fully? I do not see and gap or any way for the joint to tighten any more as they are touching and there is no gap any more? I have ordered a kit with new control arms, tie rod ends, and stabilizer rods for both sides as the other side has a bad/week ball joint as well and can just change out the control arm again if I damaged the ball joint. I was just curious was it possible for the knuckle to have wallowed out where the ball joint slides up into the knuckle.

Yes, that is possible.

Also possible the ball joint on the new control arm is the wrong size. A pinch bolt design should never, ever close the gap totally.

The knuckle may be ruined from both wallered out and a too small ball joint stud.


0123456789 fulfilling the character count requirements when something much less suffices…


There needs to be a gap, even with the bolt tight as possible, there should still be a bit of gap.

You may need to replace the steering knuckles also.

I will look again with daylight since I was using a small flashlight to see with and it was late to verify the gap was closed.

I just know for sure the alignment guys told me they stripped the pinch bolt and I am pretty sure I did as well.

My sons 2009 Cobalt LT with 196K miles on it has had a few lower control arms replaced over the years, mainly due to that stupid pancake bushing going bad, but have never had any issues with the pinch bolt or knuckle not tightening up properly…
But I don’t buy the cheap parts either, I always either buy Moog or Napa’s top of the line stuff… You get what you pay for… and never AZ junk…
And the car has been driven VERY hard and put up wet… lol

I think your parts replacement plan is sound. Seems a good place to start is the control arm, associated bushing(s), and the ball joint. Hopefully that will solve the current problem, then you can decide on replacing the other parts proactively now or wait until they show signs of failing.

Good advice above to pay whatever is required to only purchase name-brand parts having a good reputation for quality. Make sure to use calipers to measure each new part carefully before installing, to insure the dimensions make sense compared to the parts you remove.

I should add that my only diy’er experience with problematic pinch-bolts is for battery post connectors.

Well, I know you get what you pay for and I bought the parts from Oreily’s with a life time warranty just to have them argue with me that the part is fine. I know just because the part is new doesn’t mean it is right or not defective. They are mass produced, there are going to be errors. I get that. This car has over 211000 miles. Just trying to get her through a couple more years of college with it.

1 Like

Sounds like the tightness of the fasteners is in question. Did you forget to use a torque wrench?

So here is an updated fix. I ended up changing the lower control arm. I bought a set of control arms with all tie rod ends and stabilizer bars. Changed everything out with a new bolt (old/new one was stripped and it was a grade 8), and now everything is tight and good. Now off to the alignment shop.


What brand parts did you use this last time?

I used Detroit axle. Ordered them online.

Good for you. I think that aftermarket parts company gets pretty good reports here. You can search the forum history to see what others have said, link upper right this page.

Mevotech seems to be a little overrated. The parts don’t hold up long, imo

No problems with Moog . . . yet

1 Like

Like I said I had a moog tie rod end break right in two after just a year. I seem to remember a bad ball joint too that the shop replaced sourced moog from Napa. They covered it but this stuff is no fun.

Did Mevotech buy Detroit Axle from Chrysler? Your post leads to believe that is the case.

I inspected my truck’s ball joints this morning. 50 years old, original to the vehicle. No play, looks perfectly functional, but noticed some of the rubber material is deteriorating a little.

I have a different opinion on Moog ball joints. years ago, they use to be really good. now a days they are made all over the world. I think they started going downhill depending on where they are made, sometimes the quality is good and sometimes not so much. I have had them fail in a year or two on a vehicle with all new suspension parts and an alignment done. If you research online, you will find a lot of others feel the quality has gone down. but like I said it is just my opinion.

Just curious , do ball joints these days include zerk fitting so they can be greased? While there’s plenty of other places to grease, there’s no grease fitting on the ball joints on my 50 year old truck
I wonder how they made a ball joint that would hold up for 50 years without adding grease? .