Driving down the interstate, when I apply the brakes, I feel the front end shaking. I jacked the car up and pulled on the tires. No play at 6 and 12. A little at 3 and 9. The bar that goes straight up from the hub towards the top of the wheel well moves with the play in the wheel. Upper ball joint? Does this on pass. side. Doesn't do it on driver side. Also, the metal bar that connects the steering rack to the wheel itself (tie rod?) can be twisted about 30 degrees on both driver and passenger side. I just want an honest opinion because one shop took my $50 for an alignment and gave it back to me worse than it was, saying I need struts all around at $500. Another said I need inner and outer tie rods, bella boots for the rack (I can see that they are torn as well) and both upper ball joints, but said the lowers are fine. The second handed me a quote for $1100, saying this was "discounted". They said nothing about the struts. They seem to be leaking a bit but the car rides fine.
My car has 203000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.
A vibration felt when braking is most likely warped rotors. It's not possible to determine whether the items the shop recommended are worn without inspecting the vehicle firsthand. From your description, it does sound like your ball joints are worn. The tie rod should turn some, so that movement you feel is probably normal.
The team at YourMechanic would be happy to inspect your vehicle's vibration condition and give you an honest opinion.
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