Q: no room to install snap ring that came with lower ball joint.

asked by on December 15, 2016

recently purchased vehicle and was in process of replacing brakes and rotor and front axle u joint. noticed during clean up that both u joints had been tac welded in. Both were fully seated. after removal/deburr and clean up I pressed in new lower ball joint and there is no way the provided snap ring can be installed. I called autozone,confirmed right part. They noted some are for multiple vehicles and some may have snap ring. I then called dodge dealer they noted they normally put snap rings on but without seeing the vehicle could not confirm. I even looked at a couple u-tube videos and they did not install a snap ring. One guys noted came with one but wont fit. Dont have much experience with dodges.

My car has 264000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

According to the official Factory Service Manual for your vehicle, the ball joint that was designed for the vehicle, and thence installed on the vehicle, has a provision for a snap ring and the ring is installed at the factory. If the aftermarket ball joint supplied by "Autozone" is not so equipped, or the design of the aftermarket part is such that you cannot install the snap ring, despite your careful examination, then it is not wise to use the aftermarket part, excepting a circumstance where the manufacturer of the part confirms, in writing, that use of the part without the original snap ring design is not only "intended" in YOUR application but is also an acceptable, safe installation. Aftermarket parts are a horror show. Generally, once you endure the aggravation, lost time, added expense, and often worse associated with attempting to install a "knock off", non OEM auto part, you will have ended up paying double what it would have cost to have just got the part from the factory. I have heard your story ONE MILLION times. At any rate, the problem is what to do now. You could try to get confirmation from the aftermarket vendor in the event that "somehow" their engineering department has judged the snap ring redundant. You could remove the part and get a refund from Autozone (be sure to excoriate them) and then just buy the part from the dealer (take Internet pricing on a print out to dealer and save about 25% typically). Depending on your tolerance for risk and experimentation, you could leave the assembly as is and hope it doesn’t dislodge, thus needing that ring in there as a safety back up. Ball joints, once pressed in, do "tend" to seize in place by the way. At any rate, the moral of the story is aftermarket parts can and do present various risks. Really, the only way to guarantee avoidance of headaches is buy OEM parts. Please let us know how we can help you further, or if you have follow questions. Believe me, you have our sympathy and one day, far in the future, things will change.

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