Offroad Trailblazers and Envoys

New shoes, new problems

Trailblazer and Envoy related, but not off-road related...

by Shdwdrgn » Mon Sep 17, 2018 12:56 pm

Went in for a new set of tires today, but when they went to do the alignment they found that both of the front lower ball joints are shot. That's rather annoying since one side has less than 30k miles and the other side has around 20k.

So a quick bit of history... About 3 years ago I replaced both of the lower control arms. About 9 months later I was hit (low-speed) by a car directly on the front-right wheel, causing a real mess of damage. Surprisingly the frame was still square, however since then I have had the right lower control arm (with ball joint) replaced again, the steering rack replaced, both wheel bearings, and both CV axles. And finally things are feeling almost normal except that over the Summer it started getting real sensitive to road conditions (which was probably a sign of those ball joints failing).

So now the conundrum... Were the ball joints of poor quality to begin with, or was it all the damage to the front end that caused them to fail so quickly? And yes they're really bad, they showed me with it up on the rack, there's a good 1/8" or more of play on both sides just from moving the wheel by hand, and grease everywhere. I just don't know if I should replace with the same parts or try a different brand this time.

The previous parts are Dorman brand. I've had bad luck with trying to replace ball joints in the past so I will probably just replace both control arms again, but has anyone had good or back luck with this brand? Should I look for a different brand?

Thanks...
GT5/G80, 265/70-16, PCMforLess + personal tuning, quad headlights
Self-made steel front bumper / pushbar / skid / CAI / lightbar
Shdwdrgn
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Posts: 434
Joined: Wed Dec 07, 2011 4:04 pm
Location: CO, Longmont
Name: Jeff Taylor
Vehicle Year: 2004
Vehicle: Chevrolet TrailBlazer
DriveTrain: 4WD w/ G80

by Diacom » Tue Sep 18, 2018 12:34 am

There are certainly better brands available than Dorman. Moog, McQauy Norris, AC Delco all would be better stock type replacements IMO. Then there are a few "upgrade" companies you can look at, but availability for the GMT-360 may be a bit limiting. Though Moog does have HD parts for some vehicles.
Diacom
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Location: Mt, Great Falls
Name: Noel
Vehicle Year: 2003
Vehicle: Chevrolet TrailBlazer
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by Shdwdrgn » Tue Sep 18, 2018 12:53 am

It's all stock, and no reason for upgrades. I just can't believe these failed so quickly.

Thanks for the brand names, I'll do some digging with that.
GT5/G80, 265/70-16, PCMforLess + personal tuning, quad headlights
Self-made steel front bumper / pushbar / skid / CAI / lightbar
Shdwdrgn
Contributing Author
 
Posts: 434
Joined: Wed Dec 07, 2011 4:04 pm
Location: CO, Longmont
Name: Jeff Taylor
Vehicle Year: 2004
Vehicle: Chevrolet TrailBlazer
DriveTrain: 4WD w/ G80

by Shdwdrgn » Fri Oct 12, 2018 4:49 pm

Got in the ACDelco control arms. I was less than thrilled with what I received...

First off the ball joints... One side was sealed like OEM, the other side had a grease fitting (which was half ground off, luckily I have extras). One ball joint had a regular nut and the other side had a nut with the plastic keeper in it. The bolt for the bushings between the arm and mounting plate were not even finger-tight, three out of four of the nuts had come off in shipping. Is there a torque spec for these? Just cranking it down didn't seem right since the shell around the bushings started collapsing and pinching the bushings. I got two different castings for the mounting plates but at least the holes were in the same positions. However the holes for the sway-bar links, one side was about 1/8" too small and I had to drill it out.

Other than drilling that one hole, assembly went as expected. Got the alignment done the next morning and it's now spot-on and doesn't try to drift on a flat road.

Now I just have to figure out what's causing all these popping sounds (like metal shifting against metal). Previously it only happened when backing out of the driveway while turning the wheel. Now it happens forwards, backwards, going straight, turning the wheel, and from both sides. Going to get under it tomorrow, but I've replaced just about everything under the front end at this point including the sway bar links, everything *should* be rock-solid. Any thoughts?
GT5/G80, 265/70-16, PCMforLess + personal tuning, quad headlights
Self-made steel front bumper / pushbar / skid / CAI / lightbar
Shdwdrgn
Contributing Author
 
Posts: 434
Joined: Wed Dec 07, 2011 4:04 pm
Location: CO, Longmont
Name: Jeff Taylor
Vehicle Year: 2004
Vehicle: Chevrolet TrailBlazer
DriveTrain: 4WD w/ G80


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