Mark: Hi it’s Mark from Top Local, we’re here with Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, Vancouver’s best, favourite auto service experience. How’re you doing today Bernie?
Bernie: Doing very well this morning.
Mark: So, we’re going to talk about a 2007 Ford F350 Superduty, you had to do a ball joint replacement on this vehicle. What was going on on?
Bernie: We replaced ball joints, we also did some brake work. The vehicle originally came in for front brakes, it was making some grinding noises and the front brakes were worn out. The owner is a regular, a somewhat regular client and he called us about the ball joints, actually quite some time ago and mentioned that they did need to be replaced, he had some new tires put on. So we had a look at the ball joints and found that yes, they were in fact, couldn’t wait any longer, he was on beyond borrowed time, very dangerous. So we replaced the ball joints and the brakes. I’ll share a video, this is really very interesting to look at, it gives you an idea what a worn out ball joint looks like. Here we go. So if you look at that wobbling thing up there, with a reddish colour, the red is rust. I’ll just repeat the video again, that should not be moving like that at all, there should be no movement there. This is really severe and we’ll play one more time, with that rust there, that indicates that the part’s been badly worn for quite a long time. This is the upper ball joint, this was the worst worn part but the lower ball joint, and we’re back, there was also a lower ball joint which I didn’t include in that video, it also had play but not as extreme as the upper. So that’s what a very worn ball joint looks like. I can’t get my words out this morning… what a very worn ball joint looks like and if, it should be replaced long before it ever gets to that point of wear.
Mark: So is there anything unusually complicated about this repair?
Bernie: Well a Ford, this particular Ford Superduty, they make it a little more complicated than an average vehicle. Just to talk a little bit about ball joints in general, the simplest ball joints are on a car with a McPherson strut suspension, it has one lower ball joint which is often not that difficult to replace. On this particular vehicle, it’s a four wheel drive, so it’s got an upper and lower ball joint, plus it also has a drive axle which goes right through the middle of the hub and in order to take the ball joint apart, you have to remove the drive axle first. You also have to take the brakes off which is typical of many ball joint jobs. You take the brake rotor and the caliper off, take the wheel hub off and then take the axel out, so that’s what’s involved in doing this job. So there are extra steps, mostly because it’s a four wheel drive.
Mark: So what does a ball joint do? Does that allow the suspension to go up and down and the wheel to turn basically?
Bernie: It does actually. It allows the wheels, it allows the steering knuckle which is the piece that the wheel is attached to, it allows that to turn and move and as you said, it allows it to move up and down. Now, actually on a truck like this, it doesn’t because this is a solid front axle or at least semi solid front axle, so there is actually no up and down movement in these ball joints, they only do a side to side movement or sorry, a rotational movement, but nothing up and down. But most cars and any independent suspension vehicle will have up and down movement to the ball joint as well it’s pretty complicated motion involved with it.
Mark: So is there anything that an owner of these vehicles can do to extend the life of their ball joints?
Bernie: Well, just before we get to that I do want to talk about just one other complication to the service on one of these Ford’s because what Ford has designed is they have an automatic locking hub which is more fuel efficient in two wheel drive to not have the hubs locked and there is less moving drivetrain parts, but on these vehicles, Ford’s mechanism for locking-unlocking hubs as well as making it convenient for the owner where he can just push a button in the car is to have a vacuum operated system, where it will actually, if you push the button, it’ll actually use engine vacuum to suck the locking hubs into place and lock them and when you disengage it unlocks it. So what they’ve done with this, they’ve added a bunch of extra seals around, not a bunch, but a couple extra seals around the universal joint where it slides into the wheel hub, so this adds more labour and more cost to doing the job. So I just wanted to throw that in there before we talk about what an owner can do. But basically as a vehicle owner there’s not a lot you can do unless you have a lubricatible ball joint and most, 99% of cars and trucks don’t have them anymore, they are all lubed from the factory, they’re sealed, they actually last a long time. However, when you replace ball joints, like these replacement units are lubable, so you need to lubricate them probably once every year just to make sure that they last. But there’s not much else you can do, they’ll just wear out in their own time. And some vehicles are better than others, these Ford trucks they do last a fair amount of time, Dodge trucks not so long as we’ve talked about, most cars they’re pretty durable they’ll last one to two hundred thousand kilometres.
Mark: So any other thoughts on this repair?
Bernie: You know generally, it’s a Ford, just to talk generally about these Ford trucks, I mean they’re awesome vehicles, tough, they can handle a lot of load, this is a diesel so you know it can haul very heavy loads, it can handle heavy loads but if you don’t need it, don’t buy the truck. This repair with the brakes and the ball joints, very expensive job so if you don’t really need that kind of weight, that kind of, it’s a tool and if you don’t really need that sort of sledgehammer toughness, well then you know, maybe you better get a lighter duty truck because it’ll cost you less money to maintain.
Mark: So there you go, if you’re looking for service on your F350, these are the guys to go see in Vancouver are Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, they are on Marine Drive near Oak Street. You can call them at 604-327-7112 to book, they are busy you must book ahead or check out their website pawlikautomotive.com. Thanks Bernie
Bernie: Thanks Mark