Unsafe Ball Joint

I was starting to work on another Honda Accord axle shaft recall and was giving the car a quick once-over when I noticed that the left front lower ball joint was loose, along with some other suspension issues. After pricing out parts for the service advisor, I set to work on the recall.

One of the first steps in the recall is separating the lower control arm from the steering knuckle at the ball joint. As usual, my ball joint separator tool made quick work of popping them free, but when I started moving things around to get the axle out, other problems became apparent.

First, the boot fell off the left lower ball joint when I moved the knuckle away from the control arm. Since the whole ball joint needed replacing, I wasn’t that surprised by it. By now I’d been told that the customer had declined having me replace the ball joint, even though I already had it all apart, because they have a different regular mechanic.

When I was getting ready to put everything back together, I happened to find the snap ring from the ball joint on the ground. I was surprised that it had somehow come off the ball joint, but when I went to reinstall it, I found that the entire ball joint had gotten pushed up in the knuckle. I don’t know how this happened, if it was somehow related to me getting it free of the lower arm, but that would be surprising as well.

It just took a couple hits from a hammer to get the ball joint seated back down in the knuckle, and that’s when I found another problem. The snap ring now had nowhere to really hold on to, because it had broken its seat on the ball joint when the whole thing pushed upwards. Because the customer had declined replacement, I made sure to note on the repair order that the car was unsafe to drive and needed repair as soon as possible. Even if this pushed up through again, it wouldn’t be quite as bad as when a ball joint breaks, but it still wouldn’t be good.

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