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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a little shimmy/wandering and a general slightly loose feeling in the front end of my Unlimited Rubi. Not bad, but have hit some bumps and gotten a little wobble and the front end just seems a little looser than it should. I have checked the basics, track bar and drag link and tie rod ends and bushings. The only thing that seems to have any play are the ball joints. I have read that it's normal to have some up and down play in the upper ball joint but not the lower. I do not have any lateral play with the front off the ground.

My biggest question is how can the top have vertical play and not the bottom? They are pressed into a solid piece so how can one move without the other?

I am getting new tires and wheels this week and have a 2000 mile trip planned in 2 weeks. I plan on getting an alignment done but would like to address any issues prior to that so as to not have to get a second alignment.
 

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I have a little shimmy/wandering and a general slightly loose feeling in the front end of my Unlimited Rubi. Not bad, but have hit some bumps and gotten a little wobble and the front end just seems a little looser than it should. I have checked the basics, track bar and drag link and tie rod ends and bushings. The only thing that seems to have any play are the ball joints. I have read that it's normal to have some up and down play in the upper ball joint but not the lower. I do not have any lateral play with the front off the ground.

My biggest question is how can the top have vertical play and not the bottom? They are pressed into a solid piece so how can one move without the other?

I am getting new tires and wheels this week and have a 2000 mile trip planned in 2 weeks. I plan on getting an alignment done but would like to address any issues prior to that so as to not have to get a second alignment.
Yes, it's possible for 1 ball joint to go bad. However, ball joints are covered under warranty. I had my dealer replace mine before I hit 36k miles. Only one balljoint was bad and they replaced all four. I had a 2.5" coil lift and 35s at the time, but they still honored the warranty.

If you are out of warranty, I recommend getting re-buildable after-market ones like Dynatrac's Prosteer. They're pricey, but worth it. I would try to do it before your 2,000 mile trip. If the ball joints are very loose, you may damage your wheel bearings and can be dangerous driving long distances.

Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I'm way out of warranty with 70,000 on it. I purchased it with 63,000 on it and have no idea if they have been done before. I don't mind spending the time and money to replace them if they are actually in need of replacement. I'm just not someone who likes to throw parts at something hoping to solve a problem and I'm not convinced they need replaced.
 

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The stock JK ball joints allow the bottom to pivot and the top to move up and down. Our Dynatrac ball joints allow the bottom to pivot and the top to go up and down AND pivot. Much of the stock upper ball joint failure is caused by joints moving out of plane (due to flexing 'C's). With no pivot designed in, the inner plastic parts take a real beating.
 

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If there is play in them, then that usually means that they're gone.
Agree.

I know you stated that you checked the ball joints, but just to be sure you checked correctly and for the benefit of those who search for a ball joint thread in the future, here's a quick way to check whether there's play in the ball joint: lift each side of the front end with a floor jack (one at a time, not together), until the tire is off the floor by about an inch or so. Stick a long pipe or crow bar under the center tread of the lifted tire and pull up on the pipe. You may need to use a flashlight to see clearly whether there is any play in the balljoint when you try to lift the tire with the pipe.

There shouldn't be any play in either the lower or upper balljoint when you do this. If there is any play, the balljoint is likely damaged and needs to be replaced.

Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Agree.

I know you stated that you checked the ball joints, but just to be sure you checked correctly and for the benefit of those who search for a ball joint thread in the future, here's a quick way to check whether there's play in the ball joint: lift each side of the front end with a floor jack (one at a time, not together), until the tire is off the floor by about an inch or so. Stick a long pipe or crow bar under the center tread of the lifted tire and pull up on the pipe. You may need to use a flashlight to see clearly whether there is any play in the balljoint when you try to lift the tire with the pipe.

There shouldn't be any play in either the lower or upper balljoint when you do this. If there is any play, the balljoint is likely damaged and needs to be replaced.

Good luck.
That's what I did. I get a little vertical movement but not any side to side. I even tried to get side to side with various amounts of lift by the bar under tire. No movement side to side with no lift on the pipe clear though to lots of lift.

What I am getting conflicting info about is whether a small amount of vertical movement is acceptable.

By what Dynatrac said, it sounds like the upper is designed to allow some vertical however that should be limited by the design of the lower not to allow it. (unless you had someway to flex the C while in the shop)

So, am I correct in assuming that if I am getting vertical movement then I can at least assume the lower ball joint is bad by allowing this?
 

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By what Dynatrac said, it sounds like the upper is designed to allow some vertical however that should be limited by the design of the lower not to allow it. (unless you had someway to flex the C while in the shop)
This is essentially true. With every product you'll see manufacturing tolerences. If, as an example, one bore was only .010" off (not deep enough), when everything was tight you'd be pulling joints out of bores or bending 'C's to fit.
 

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That's what I did. I get a little vertical movement but not any side to side. I even tried to get side to side with various amounts of lift by the bar under tire. No movement side to side with no lift on the pipe clear though to lots of lift.

What I am getting conflicting info about is whether a small amount of vertical movement is acceptable.

By what Dynatrac said, it sounds like the upper is designed to allow some vertical however that should be limited by the design of the lower not to allow it. (unless you had someway to flex the C while in the shop)

So, am I correct in assuming that if I am getting vertical movement then I can at least assume the lower ball joint is bad by allowing this?
Mine don't move at all. Maybe I'm not pulling my pipe hard enough (hehe), but my ball joints are solid (hehe).
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Well it's done. Installed new lower Moog ball joints and here is what I've learned about them.

Moog ball joints come with a grease zerk so that you can grease the lower ball joints when ever you want. By when ever you want I mean when ever you want to tear the whole thing apart and swap the plug out and put the zerk in because the zerk doesn't clear once you install the axle shafts. So don't think you're getting a greasable ball joint. :pissed:
 

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I put Dynatracs in my Jeep and have not had one more issue of DW..........I have also replaced the crap tie rod with a Poly pref one and did the drag link flip from Teraflex......................
 
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