Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Q: lower ball joint broke in half

asked by on

In May of this year I had both lower control arms replaced (with ball joints). At the same time I had the drivers side strut replaced because the hole in the upper seat was elongated. I had both struts replaced less than a year ago. Last week while pulling away from a curb to make a "U" turn, the right side lower ball joint split in 2 and my wheel fell off. I had the vehicle towed to the shop who had done the work in May. They asked me if I had hit a pothole. I told them I did not. They replaced the lower control arm under warranty.

What could have caused this? They said they inspected the other side control and it looked good. Should I be concerned about the other ball joint? should I get a second opinion?

My car has 65398 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

A: To give you a usable answer, we (and possib...

To give you a usable answer, we (and possibly a lab) would have to have the failed part in hand to determine the failure mode. The problem is there are quite a few disparate causes for a failure of the type that you are describing which includes improper assembly, metal fatigue around the joint, product and/or design defect and so forth. Depending on the failure mode, and the full set of circumstances, this might be a situation where the failure should be reported to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the event that you have unwittingly stumbled on a "product defect" (such reporting could save other people's lives and that is no understatement). These reports to NHTSA are easy for consumers to enter online at and/or you can simply call their 800 number to make a report.

Ball joints are obviously designed to withstand tremendous impact forces and thus are not typically "broken" by even substantial potholes. That fact has meaning of course because you claim to not have even hit anything and yet the part failed. Obviously, you don't want that happening at 65 miles per hour while trying to negotiate a winding curve. Consequently, in your circumstance, what I would do, is first ask the shop WHO the manufacturer of the control arm is. Aftermarket parts are not created equal. Depending on exactly what company manufactured the part, I might be able to offer more specific advice as to how to interpret this or what action to take.

But, what I would do is take that "who" information to a Mechanic who is highly knowledgeable about the "parts" aspect of the automobile repair business and both get his view and have him re-examine the OTHER side. Going forward, generally, a SAFE choice for parts is OEM (dealer). A lot of repair facilities will not use OEM parts, or the BEST parts, and yet charge you full fare. It may be best to have a second opinion on the work that was already completed. A certified technician from YourMechanic can perform a thorough inspection of your vehicle and provide necessary information to address this. Hope this helped.

Was this answer helpful?

Need advice from certified mechanic? Get help now!

Over 1000 mechanics are ready to answer your question.
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Ask a Mechanic
(100% Free)

Have a car question? Get free advice from our top-rated mechanics.

Ask A Mechanic
Over 10,000 questions answered!

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Save up to 30%

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: Car knocking in the wheel area.

The noise is coming from one or more of the front axles constant velocity joints are bad. I recommend you have a qualified mechanic road test and listen to the noise to verify what the noise is and where it...

Q: drive train vibration

Hello there, vibrations are one of the most common faults with your 2010 F-150. You have done great so far in checking the drive shaft and u-joints as well as replacing the rotors and balancing the wheels. These are all...

Q: How do you remove the CV axle on driver side?

Hi there. On a 2004 Chevy Blazer, you can remove the CV axle shaft on the driver side by removing the wheel and tire, the brake calipers, brake pads, rotor, center hub nut, wheel bearings and loosen the ball joints...

Related articles

What Causes Hoses to Leak?
While the largest part of your engine is mechanical, hydraulics plays a significant role. You’ll find fluids at work in a number of different areas. Your car's fluids include: Engine oil Transmission...
P0240 OBD-II Trouble Code: Turbocharger Boost Sensor B Circuit Range/Performance
P0240 code definition Turbocharger Boost Sensor B Circuit Range/Performance What the P0240 code means P0240 is an OBD-II generic code triggered when the Engine Control Module (ECM) detects the intake boost...
How to Avoid Back Pain in a Car
If you have back problems, sitting in a car for an extended period of time can be excruciating. Even without back problems, you could experience discomfort and soreness from...