Troubleshooting lower control arm & ball joints?

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Main Forum' started by GTW, Apr 14, 2020.

  1. GTW

    GTW Junior Member

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    Good morning. I just had my wheel hubs replaced at, Bring Your Own Parts. They charged me $150 per wheel to do this . No complaints there, but they've informed me that my lower control arms and ball joints are loose, and is considered to be an unsafe item.

    The only things I've ever been told about suspensions is twofold. First, you want to listen for a clunking sound. Secondly that if I do hear a clunking sound I need to grab a hold of the wheel and try to shake it to see if there is any play. I've tried to shake the wheel and there is no play.

    Is there anything else that I can try, or or visually inspect to determine if they're just trying to scare me into more work? Once in awhile while the car has a slight clunk when transitioning into either drive or reverse. Usually that only happens if the car is on a grade. At 170k miles I'm sure there is some looseness (is that a real word?) in the suspension but I can't tell if it's bad enough to be unsafe.

    I'd sure appreciate some real facts on this matter. Thank you.
     
  2. M in KC

    M in KC Active Member

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    Get a large pry bar and try flexing the suspension components. Observe the joint/connection points between components. Everything should move in unison. If one part moves then the next, its likely one or both components are worn. Holding and trying to move the wheel at the 12 and 6, 10 and 4 and 2 and 7 positions and other methods to use while the wheel is off the ground and the suspension unloaded.

    The good news on these cars, the ball joints are extremely service friendly. The LCA I believe are a bit more involved.
     
  3. qmanqman

    qmanqman Member

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    You were told right. Clunks are the beginning symptom.
     
  4. edthefox5

    edthefox5 Senior Member

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    Go on you tube and search this. Many videos on how to check BJ's using the pry bar.

    Car should be on a lift though, difficult doing it laying down. An alternative go to the tire shop you buy tires from. They will give them a free look see.
     
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  5. fotomoto

    fotomoto Senior Member

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    Yes, the original suspension on a 13 year old car is worn out. With the wheels off, you can see the lower arm bushings; they are most likely cracked and hard by now.

    GOOD LUCK!
     
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  6. 05PreeUs

    05PreeUs Senior Member

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    Not so fast...

    Not "new" does not mean worn out, even at 15YO w/230k+ on it, the suspension on the '05 is hardly "worn out"; worn, absolutely, but in need of refitting, not YET. Just like tires, 6/32" is worn, 5/32" is very, 4/32" is really, 3/32" is borderline dangerous, but ONLY 2/32" is WORN OUT.
    ;)
     
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  7. fotomoto

    fotomoto Senior Member

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    What do you attribute the clunking to?
     
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  8. GTW

    GTW Junior Member

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    I tried to do that and was surprised to learn that my tire shop is not allowed to do any work other than strictly replacing bad tires. No rotations or inspections, that is 'non-essential service' Thank you Covid-19.

    I don't own large tools (pry bar). In the near-term I guess I'll just live with it.
     
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  9. GTW

    GTW Junior Member

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    I wanted to say thank you to everyone who chimed in. Car suspension is beyond my experience, I don't know what I am looking at. I will visit a couple of more shops to see if anyone else can give me a 'non-essentiaL' estimate.
     
  10. 05PreeUs

    05PreeUs Senior Member

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    The component making the noise, not the whole suspension as you suggested.
     
  11. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Underfoot

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    Same here.

    While you wait:

     
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  12. edthefox5

    edthefox5 Senior Member

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    Prius is pretty easy to check ball joints. I looked in my Bentley and all you do is slide a floor jack under the LCA and gently jack it up then let it down and watch for any movement of the joint. The only hard part is I don't think you can get a jack under there the car is so low.

    Its a non load bearing joint get the wheel off the ground and look for any movement of the joint with a wheel vertical flex hands at 12 and 6 on the wheel. Tug away.

    The Toyota oem price on the LCA is $165 and the ball joint is $65 for one side so its $450 + ship for both sides plus labor. Big job probably $300 labor.

    With all that I would get new stabilizer links too that's another $200 all in then going to need a front end alignment. $100.

    $1000. Good times.
     

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    #12 edthefox5, Apr 15, 2020
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2020
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  13. GTW

    GTW Junior Member

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    Do you work for BYOP? That is spot-on to the quote they gave for this work, labor-wise. My concern is with the sense of urgency BYOP was using. Is there really something unsafe there, or just pressure sales talk? I'll lift the tires off of the ground,and use your suggestion. Thank you.
     
  14. edthefox5

    edthefox5 Senior Member

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    Well hard to tell how urgent it is can you feel something weird in the steering especially going around corners?
    If there that bad they will fail the jiggle on the wheel test. When I say jiggle I mean like a Mr T would jiggle it. Put some mustard on it should not be any movement at all especially from the bottom of the wheel. Act like your trying to pull the wheel off from the bottom. Any movement of the wheel at all and the joint is bad. There's only one ball joint a lower joint on each side. And its bolted to the end of the lower control arm.

    The LCA is a bitch to get out one side has a bolt that wont clear the engine. You have to jack up the engine a little to get it out. If the mechanic has never done a G2 LCA before he will scratch his head for a while on that one. There's half an hour lol....cha ching...
     
    #14 edthefox5, Apr 15, 2020
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  15. edthefox5

    edthefox5 Senior Member

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    The wheel jiggle works really well if you have a friend who knows what he's looking at watch the area while your on the 12 and 6 on the wheel then change hand positions on the wheel jiggle all the way around the tire and friend watches the tie rods the stab links and the Bj. None of those should move at all. No play. If really bad you may even see the LCA move. Thats bad. Thats really worn.

    Just google You Tube there's thousands on what to watch for.

    PS- I have not seen many LCA's or BJ replacements 13 years on this site. There have been a bunch but not a common issue for either. Most people don't even hear the clunk. I hear everything its really annoying.
     
    #15 edthefox5, Apr 16, 2020
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2020
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  16. GTW

    GTW Junior Member

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    I don't hear a clunk, but occassionaly feel a clunk when changing Park to Drive on a grade.
     
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  17. fotomoto

    fotomoto Senior Member

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    Check motor & transaxle mounts.
     
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  18. dolj

    dolj Senior Member

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    ... or could be the parking pawl thunking out under pressure. One reason I always use my foot park brake, but especially on any kind of incline.
     
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  19. edthefox5

    edthefox5 Senior Member

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    That doesn't sound like the lca's or ball joint issue.

    My 07 that I don't drive much its the wifes car I drove the other day and now are hearing a little clunking in the front end like the lca's.

    I asked her how long has it been doing that noise and she said what noise.
     
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