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Thread: Rear Upper Ball Joint Symptoms...

  1. #1
    LXi User '89AccordLX(Rus)'s Avatar
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    Rear Upper Ball Joint Symptoms...

    Hi all,

    I have been reading some threads about rear upper ball joint replacements, but haven't found any particular symptoms I should be looking for. When I drive my car, I can hear the left rear ball joint creaking slightly (like rubber against metal). Once I give it a shot of WD-40, it stops for some time. The linkage seems nice and tight with no play. There also isn't any visible damage on the outside. Am I just worrying too much about the creaks? BTW, the creaking is more common in cold weather than in warm. Has anyone experienced these types of noises from the rear upper ball joints?

    Thanks in advance.
    3axap.
    ------------------------------------------------



  2. #2


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    yeah... maybe I'm just asking for trouble, but I've been riding around on creaky rear uppers for quite some time now. It's getting worse and worse daily. Oh well, It's away for the winter so it becomes next springs' project.
    -Mark D.


  3. #3
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    Well, I had one separate while I was driving a while back. Luckily I wasn't going that fast, but I would say that this isn't the best way to find out that it's bad.

    On front uppers, you can usually jerk the top of the wheel really hard and feel play. I have found that even rears that are going bad doing necessarily give you play when you jerk.

    I'd try to jerk the top of the wheel really hard and check for play. If you got some, change the BJ. If you don't, try jerking the arm back and forth and up&down. THen try having someone bounce up & down on that corner of the bumper while you listen to the end of the control arm by the BJ w/ a vacuum hose or mechanic's stethascope or end of a long-thin screwdriver up to your ear. If you hear a bad squeek that you're SURE is from the BJ then it's bad.

    Check to see if the BJ boot is torn and if it looks dry.

    Maybe someone else can give you better advice.

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    I just replaced both rear upper ball joints on our Accord. With the car sitting on the ground on all 4 wheels, if I grabbed the wheel and pulled on it hard, I could feel movement and hear a click sound. The left side was not too bad but the right side was worse and actually fell apart when I was trying to remove it with the pickle fork. It was time to replace it. I sort of hate to think what might happen if it broke off while I was driving it.

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    I has one break on me on a Accord I borrowed. I replaced both of mine on my Accord. Some stores sell just the ball joint, other stores sell the entire upper control arm with the ball joint already installed. It is about twice the price but you dont have to go thru the hassle of pressing out the old one and pressing in the new on,e especially if you dont have the right tools.

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    Re: Rear Upper Ball Joint Symptoms...

    Hey guys, just trying to get a second opinion on the issue I have with my 5th gen. (the suspension components have the same setup). The rear passenger side creaks when taking sharp turns or going over big bumps.

    This has been getting progressively worse, and I'm really hoping its just the upper ball joints or control arm bushing going bad. Reason being is that I currently have clearance issues with my wheels and will be installing wheel spacers soon. At first I thought that this may just be wheels hitting the springs/struts (which would be solved with the spacers), but wouldn't it happen to both sides and not one?

    What I'm really hoping is that this is not the spring/strut getting loose for some reason. What's strange though is that I just passed inspection last month and the guy seemed to check the BJs all around, but maybe he was just daydreaming. I'll definitely be buying new rear control arms, and hope this solves it. Let me know if you have any other ideas.

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    Re: Rear Upper Ball Joint Symptoms...

    I've never experienced a ball joint creaking, but I guess it could. What I've had, and it's a real PITA, is the control arm bushings squeaking. Honda specifies that upon installation, those bushings should be greased. If you don't do it, you're asking for trouble. And, once they're in there, there's no good way to lube them permanently without removing and reinstalling the bolt/bushing. I've tried a few things that worked for awhile, but so far no long-term fix, and I guess I'll just have to take the bolt out and grease the bushing. It only creaks sometimes though, usually after a rain, so it isn't too bad.

    I've had 3 upper control arms replaced, and the first two were done by different shops, and both are now squeaking. The last one was done after I figured all this out, so it was greased, and it's been fine now for a year. You have to INSIST that the shop grease the bushings, because most (all) of them don't. One actually told me that Honda does not recommend it (sort of shut up when I showed them the factory shop manual, and asked where their source of info was - they're toast now anyway).

    As far as an indication of a bad ball joint, there's the jack-up-the-car-and-try-to-rattle-the-wheel approach. You can also look at them when the car is on a lift, and stick a pry bar against the cap and see if it moves around. In my case, in the rear, I had a sound that was exactly like something loose in the trunk, and whenever I went around a curve it went "thunk." I tore everything out of the trunk looking for whatever was loose, until (duh) moving to the suspension.
    Last edited by w261w261; 07-27-2006 at 10:48 AM.

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    Re: Rear Upper Ball Joint Symptoms...

    mine broke in a parking lot and what a pain it was, i had to keep jacking it up and putting the ball joint back in the control arm drive it a few seconds for it to break again about 2 hours to my uncles house. They were very rusted. I got the control arms for both sides on the rear since the other one was just as bad. The new ones barely have any grease in there so maybe thats why they go quick. Anyways just change them its not worth the hassle I was out not having my car for about 4 days.

  9. #9

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    Re: Rear Upper Ball Joint Symptoms...

    I had a rear one break while I was going 70 mph. I had no noticable symptoms before that. I replaced both of them once I got the car brought home. The cost of the flat bed truck haul was twice the cost of the new parts. Oh and that included the cost of new shorts too after that scare.

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    Re: Rear Upper Ball Joint Symptoms...

    Years ago, I had a '73 BMW 3.0CS. I used to hurry quite frequently with the car, which included high-speed sweepers at 90+. The car body, which was made by Karmann ("King of Rust"), was infamous for rusting in all places, and I thought I was keeping up as best I could. Then one day, on a thankfully slow turn, the left rear shock tower blew out the top. This changed the suspension geometry back there and made the car real hard to steer for a few seconds as I slowed down. I can't imagine what would have happened at 90mph. I would probably have needed more than new shorts.

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    Re: Rear Upper Ball Joint Symptoms...

    Hmmm... This thread has made me want to go buy new rear uppers tommorow... i can kinda hear them click when i reef on the car. And they clunk a bit when driving.

  12. #12
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    Re: Rear Upper Ball Joint Symptoms...

    when you can hear them creaking, they have about 3 months to live before they leave you stranded on the side of the road.. i know from experience...twice

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    Re: Rear Upper Ball Joint Symptoms...

    ^^ Thanks! Thats what I figured. The question is, why did an inspection tech pass the car? They give you shit about the cluch neutral switch and pass cars that are a safety hazard...

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    Re: Rear Upper Ball Joint Symptoms...

    Quote Originally Posted by Blkblurr
    I had a rear one break while I was going 70 mph. I had no noticable symptoms before that. I replaced both of them once I got the car brought home. The cost of the flat bed truck haul was twice the cost of the new parts. Oh and that included the cost of new shorts too after that scare.
    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i was going like 20 km/h in the mall parking lot and KLUNK and GRIND then my wheel rotated like 45 deggreeeess to the right ()_O some guy who passed by told me it was a 900 dollar job... pfft i fixed it with 70 bux >_>

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    Re: Rear Upper Ball Joint Symptoms...

    Small update. I replaced both rear control arms, and still have the same problem. Will have a shop take a look at it tomorrow. Its gotten to a point that on every right turn you could hear it creak back and forth, as though the LCA or the trailing arm is loose. Weird, cause I've never had a similar problem with the 3G. I'll have an update soon.

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    LXi User '89AccordLX(Rus)'s Avatar
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    Re: Rear Upper Ball Joint Symptoms...

    Quote Originally Posted by keruhas184
    Small update. I replaced both rear control arms, and still have the same problem. Will have a shop take a look at it tomorrow. Its gotten to a point that on every right turn you could hear it creak back and forth, as though the LCA or the trailing arm is loose. Weird, cause I've never had a similar problem with the 3G. I'll have an update soon.
    Is there a sway bar in the back? That may cause noises if its not lubed or there are failing links/bushings.
    3axap.
    ------------------------------------------------

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    Re: Rear Upper Ball Joint Symptoms...

    Yep, there is a rear sway bar. Thanks for the heads up, I'll have a look at it as well.

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    Re: Rear Upper Ball Joint Symptoms...

    Well, this is getting really fun. The guy convinced me that it was an incorrectly installed caliper, because there was play in one of its components. So I went for it and replaced the calipers... didn't solve it.

    It maybe the rear sway bar causing this, because the endlinks and bushings have all dried out. But it may also be the lack of wheel clearance as I initially thought -- the wheels are right up against the trailing arms. Perhaps that one side has less clearance, and the wheel rides up the trailing arm during right turns... I'll just leave it be for a few weeks until i get the spacers put in the rear and replace the sway bar bushings.
    Last edited by keruhas184; 08-12-2006 at 03:39 PM.

  19. #19
    LX User StressSolutions's Avatar
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    Re: Rear Upper Ball Joint Symptoms...

    OK, so the book says to loosen the nut a few turns and use a gear puller to seperate the joint from the knuckle. I can't find the nut. I pulled off the rubber cap to find a big rusty lump in there. Any suggestions?

    Mine seperated in a parking lot, AAA hauled it home free. Lucky for me. thanks

  20. #20
    3Geez Veteran Pico's Avatar
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    Re: Rear Upper Ball Joint Symptoms...

    Did mine a few months ago real easy to do.
    Jack up the car...
    Remove the plastic cover on the arm (if its still there)
    Remove the cotter pin and remove the castle nut
    Use a pickle fork and big hammer to lossen the arm from it's mount.
    Unbolt the two bolts on the body and take arm off.
    Installation is reverse and dont forget to torque the bolts down

  21. #21
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    Re: Rear Upper Ball Joint Symptoms...

    I had one break while cornering one day, Was really bad I taped the joint back together with Duct Tape until I could order another one, It was just enough to get Me home and sure enough it held...

  22. #22
    LX User StressSolutions's Avatar
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    Re: Rear Upper Ball Joint Symptoms...

    Yup, that is what the book says. The "castle nut" and "cotter key" and "threaded stud" are just a lump of rusty lumpyness. Can't really tell where one starts and the other begins. The cap was on there too...

  23. #23
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    Re: Rear Upper Ball Joint Symptoms...

    Update. Used the angle grinder to grind the "nut" off and the stub of the ball joint popped out of the tapered hole just like I had hoped it would. I do believe that I'll change the other side, just in case.

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