Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Ball and chain

Just a few short weeks ago, the jag was at Steffy's Garage for a loose nut on the lower ball joint. As always, there's a reason these things happen. The following Monday, she went back to the shop since it felt the same as it had before. The mechanics went over it and found that the lower control arm was worn around the post for the joint, so they mended that as well.

Despite the mending, the front end still felt strange and Penelope developed a frightening groan and creak every time the wheel turned. She visited the garage again last week and the verdict was bad bushings. The mechanic insisted she could be safely driven despite the noise, so she was taken home and only driven a few times.

Yesterday, on the way to take the kid to work, this happened:

Passing over a light bump in the road, the front right wheel made a horrible bang and poor Penelope started careening off into the opposing lane. With the brakes firmly depressed and some creative steering or possibly wishful thinking, she was brought to a stand-still on the edge of the road.

Time was spent awaiting a roll-back and with more hideous clatter, Penelope was unceremoniously dragged from the banking and onto the truck.

This past winter, the lower ball joint was replaced with what was presumed to be a new, properly constructed unit. As one can see from the above photo, the lower ball joint is not exactly where it belongs, and that hole in the wheel is not what one would normally term "stock." It turns out that the replacement part was never lubricated at the factory. For those who aren't familiar, these parts are supposed to be pre-lubricated and sealed. Since there was no lubrication, the parts would bind and heat up, causing damage to the surrounding areas. From the explanation given by the mechanic, this wasn't showing up when the vehicle was on a lift because there was no weight on the wheel. 

Steffy's contacted the vendor, who agreed that this part had been defective. The vendor then contacted the manufacturer, who apparently can't see the problem with producing a faulty product and therefore refuses responsibility for their failure to produce quality merchandise. The manufacturer's name is withheld at this time as there may be future litigation.

Thankfully both Steffy's Garage and the vendor are willing to stand by their work and show integrity in so doing. This means there will be no out of pocket expense at this point in time. 

It boggles the mind really, but for now, it is a relief to know that Penelope will be receiving an almost complete right front suspension, wheel, and two front tires (because of equal wear). 


kz1000st said...

Actually had the mechanics suspected a faulty ball joint there's an easy test. With the wheel hanging on the lift you push the wheel up firmly. If there's slack they will feel it as it moves up and then hits firmly on the upper cup of the joint. Back in the bad old days in the sixties it was a common problem for ball joints to wear out frequently and this was they looked for play in the joint.

Paul Smith said...

Yeah. I think this may contribute to their eagerness to fix things quickly and with no cost to me. It's something they realize they should have caught before it ended up trying to kill me.