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I-team investigation

2355 Views 24 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  c5engineer
Anyone else get asked about the ball joint recall by Joe Bergantino of WBZ-TV Boston. Apparently this guy is the real deal. He is the reporter that broke The Father James Porter case that put that slug in the slammer and cost Cardinal Law his job. He is asking about experiences with the recall. My Tundra is on the recall list, but my dealer will NOT touch it without the official recall notice, even though my tires were shot at 17k. They were completely bald on the inside. The dealer had re-aligned the vehicle at 2000 miles and the tires were rotated three times. (by the stealership) The pro that installed new skins and lined the front end said the tires were running at an angle like this \ . Dealer says no way defective ball joints could do this.
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Can the balljoints be the culprit to your bad tire wear, of course. However how you maintain and drive your vehicle will play a major role in the end result of your tires. I have a newer truck with more miles than you do, and haven't been touched since I bought the truck over a year ago. I have rotated tires twice and the tires and alignment are fine.

But for the last time, your balljoints are not "defective." They are subject to premature wear which could lead to failure. Everyone and their mother is using this balljoint recall as an excuse for their lack of maintanence. Many people have reported seeing absolutely no change in the trucks handling, while others say they steering is tighter, and that is because of the alignment the dealership does after replacing the balljoints.
NO. ball joints are not the reason for your tires. Ball joints do not affect your alignment unless they are so worn out that they have massive amounts of play in them and at that point they would break and you would not be able to drive. New vehicles have new springs. Over time the springs settle and this will throw the alignment out. at 2000k when you got it aligned it was still new and I bet the springs were not completly settled. Also your driving style can affect the tire wear as well. do you bang corners? The truck should feel exactly the same after they are replaced because the ball joints are not part of your steering system either. BUT they will align it which will be the difference people notice. They are a ball in a cup that allows your spindle to turn on the lower and upper arm when the steering system moves. It simply floats in a cup.

And I have not recieved any notice of the recall but called in and said I am dropping it off for the recall and they said OK tomorrow at 7 will be fine. So I do not believe you MUST wait for a notice.
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It sounds to me like you were maintaining your vehicle. I'd say if you have been rotating your tires like you say and they did an alignment at 2000, then you were doing your job. Maybe some people claim that a failure was caused by something that really had to do with their lack of maintenance, but I don't think this guy is an example of that. BTW it is a defect. If it's causing "premature" wear and not "normal" wear than it is a defect. Materials are tested to a standard. If something is causing them to wear prematurely and cause failure (which is what the investigation has shown) then we call that a defect. If it was normal wear Toyota wouldn't do a recall they'd just save some cash and tell you to shove it.
I've been buying new for over forty years. I used to do my own maintainence, but I'm too old, too lazy now. However, I do pay a Toyota dealership to maintain my 05 Tundra stepside and my wife's 06 Highlander Limited. This dealership has sold me several Toyotas over the past several years. They will NEVER sell me another. Old guys like me don't wear out radial tires in 17K. When the clown was rotating the tires, did he look at them? I don't think spring wear would cause my tires to travel like this \
The setting was negative! If ball joints don't effect alignment, why did Toyota tell me that a 4 wheel alignment is included in the recall? Why can some people get their trucks fixed without a recall notice?
Why can some people get their trucks fixed without a recall notice?
Technically as soon as a recall goes out your vehicle will be marked in the Toyota systems. I don't have my recall notice and the only reason I found out there was a recall was because of the thread here on this board. I called on my drive home to the dealership with my VIN number in hand, the guy punched it in and said that my truck was due for the work as a result of the recall. Every Toyota dealership is tied into their main system. If I were you I'd find a different dealership to work with. He immediately checked to see if the parts were in stock (they weren't, but they'll be in next week) and set up an appointment as well as allotted parts that were coming in to be used for my replacement.
The ball joint recall is not due to tire wear issues, it is dues to some instances of seizing and breakage. Yes, you could call this a defective part, but not in the sense that tires will wear out. The expanse of the recall is manly precautionary I am sure.
The reason an alignment is included in the recall is because technical this is the right way to do the job. Any time any front end part is replaced the alignment should be checked. In the real world if the replacement units are held in close tolerance to the originals as far as mounting points, the replacement should have little affect on the alignment. But still it is the right thing to do, because how can anyone be sure without checking.
Stoneybroke, the dealer was partly right. This was probaly not caused by the ball joints, unless they were damaged or worn badly. More likely this was caused by a bad alignment. Now whether it was a camber or a toe problem is hard to say without seeing your wheel alignment numbers.
Here is what should have happened. When you came back to the dealer with this complaint and if your truck is on the list as you say, they should have just taken care of you. Even without the notice, this was the lest they could have done since my guess is they are responsible for your problem.
Did the shop that installed your tire do an alignment? If so did they print the numbers before and after? This would be good to see as I could tell you if the alignment is causing the tire wear. Plus this would show if the alignment was not done properly by the dealer.
This is a great example of why you should always get a print out of the settings.
Mike E
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The balljoints are not defective. If they were defective you would all be in accidents driving away from the dealership parking lot when you first purchased it. They MIGHT wear out prematurely, key word MIGHT.
If ball joints don't effect alignment, why did Toyota tell me that a 4 wheel alignment is included in the recall? Why can some people get their trucks fixed without a recall notice?
Becasue when you take apart the front end (ie: remove ball joints) and put it back together you have changed the alignment by loosening and removing the bolts and placing a totally different part in which may be a little thicker or thinner or shaped a little differnet due to the manufacturing process. I have replaced MANY MANY ball joints on my desert truck and many other vehicles.
Again, they have caused failure. The NHTSA investigated them after several complaints and found cause. If one occured after many years that would not be a defect in the entire product population it would be an anomaly. Not all may be defective, but those that failed are defective hence the purpose of the recall. The reason there's a recall is the NHTSA engineers conducted a failure analysis and viola!!! Some failed. Therefore there is an inherent defect in the material which causes it to fail under normal loads during certain conditions due to the material composition. If you own a Toyota and a mount bolt shears when normal loads are applied that's a failure as it was designed to withstand that stress. PERIOD. Are you implying that the guy who was driving his new Tundra and had it snap on him was adding loads well above the ultimate stress? Doubt it.
Are you implying that the guy who was driving his new Tundra and had it snap on him was adding loads well above the ultimate stress? Doubt it.
I'm implying one guy could have had 1 defective balljoint. Out of over 500,000 vehicles, if you get a bad one, sh*t happens.

I just really laugh at everyone using the balljoints as an excuse just because they were recalled. Everyone jumping on the bandwagon, but that's the usual here at TS.
A defect is a defect. Are you saying your not going to have yours done because it's 1 out of 500,000? If you are having it done, why? It isn't a defect, therefore nothing will happen. And because it's a defect you don't know if it will end up being 1 out of 500,000 or 500,000 out of 500,000. What I love about TS is that everyone's an engineer because they stayed at the Holiday Inn express. Toyota reported 11 confirmed accidents so far attributed to faulty ball joints. What I love is that people trust engineers to build things (obviously because we live in houses, drive cars etc.), but when engineers study a part for defects and find that there are, it's an overreaction because it could happen to one person. FXNGlASS you'd be the first person crying in your beer if your ball joints failed causing you to have an accident. The guy who originally started this post has stated that he had proper maintenance at regular intervals. He was wondering whether the ball joints could be the cause because he couldn't believe that Toyota techs would have improperly aligned his vehicle. Yet you use it to get back on that soap box about how we're lazy and get what we deserve. Perhaps something will fail on your truck. I hope that your post states, " My truck just fell apart, but it wasn't a defect. These things happen so I'll just buy another one." As for the people that complain about shoddy engineering on Toyota's part oh well. Not everything can be engineered to perfection, but I'd say the Tundra's pretty close compared to the others.
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If I crash because my balljoints broke, I sue Toyota. I never got a recall letter in the mail. Most people that own Tundra's are older in age, and don't pay much attention to their own maintenance. They pay out their *** for repairs and labor, and on top of it, you can't even be sure the job got done right. I'm not an engineer, but I know how to maintain my vehicle, and I pay close attention to it. I know when something does go wrong. I don't stay at Holiday Inn's either, only Marriott.

Regardless, every person uses their truck for different purposes. I daily drive mine and barely use it to move cargo. Will my balljoints fail prematurely? Probably not, but someone who puts their truck thru vigorious use and 4x4, I bet the odds of them experiencing problems is more likely. I'm not worried about it one bit. My tears wouldn't be in beer either, only jagermeister.
When I had my Tundra realighned by Toyota at 2000 mles, they farmed out the work. The dealer does not have alignment equipment! I did not see, or ask for a printout. (My bad!). This dealer is 35 miles from home. The next closest is 75 miles. When I had the tires replaced by a pro shop, I used the DJ numbers I got off of this site. The shop tech said he had no problem using these settings. He did tell me that who ever last aligned my truck was incompetent. He said all of the numbers were negative. There is a world of difference in handling now.
I know what your talking about. I've had two lackluster experiences with the dealership and I had to confront them with their own manual to point out the problem. There is a lot of talk on this forum about Toyota quality. The vehicles will have problems, but I hate it when I hear that it's not Toyota's fault it's the dealerships. That's garbage. It's their product and if their authorized dealers are &^*%## up then they should step in and make them anty up. Read up on the sludge in Lexus' engines. Toyota admits no fault, no claim of defect and will repair vehicles that fail due to sludge buildup, yet the dealerships won't deal and blame the owners (another reason to keep all reciepts). They didn't even acknowledge the ball joints until federal investigators issued their findings and they were forced to. BTW FXNGLAS, I haven't gotten a letter as many haven't, but according to the local dealership, my vehicle is part of the recall. Interesting note. I believe the guy who investigators pointed to when he said he hadn't done anything more than commute in his Tundra when the ball joint snapped and caused him to have an accident.
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I agree with you 100%. Toyota can do a great job of building a vehicle but it all falls apart when the dealers do a poor job at service. They should fix the system.
I know first hand how hard it is to find competent techs that you can trust to do a good job. This is big problem in the hole industry and all stems from the poor pay auto tech receive. A good top tech needs to have the knowledge of a brain surgeon and still gets an average pay. This means a lot of the good one leave for better jobs and the so-so guys and beginers are left.
Stoneybroke, it's not good if your dealer is farming out alignment work. This means they have no control over the quality of work or the maintenance of the equipment. They are probably going to someone that has agreed to do the work cheap, which make it worth while to them to put of buying their own equipment. This is sad, They owe you your money back for your tires and the alignment, that you had to pay to get done right. Don't let up on them write Toyota corporate. They can afford to pay you back with all the money they are saving!
Mike E
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BTW FXNGLAS, I haven't gotten a letter as many haven't, but according to the local dealership, my vehicle is part of the recall. Interesting note. I believe the guy who investigators pointed to when he said he hadn't done anything more than commute in his Tundra when the ball joint snapped and caused him to have an accident.
Please find where this person's story is. I want to read the whole thing so I know what exactly he "said" happened.
Why do I have to find the person's story for you? Do what I did: Google nhsta + tundra ball joints and it should come up. You really think they're changing ball joints on 530,000 vehicles because someone THINKS it might fail? You'll do your own maintenance, but aren't curious enough to look at fact or fiction? Here's a bone. Just one of many articles I've read about the ball joint recall.
Toyota Recalls 533,000 Trucks for Failed Ball Joints

Here's one that mentions the NHTSA doing an engineering analysis which could result in more recalls (which it did when the engineers determined there was a defect)
NHTSA Probes 600,000 Toyota Trucks and Vans

And if that's not enough here is the actual NHTSA Office of Defects Investigations.

NHTSA ODI - Recalls

NHTSA has binding authority to enforce a recall so I doubt all those engineers would lie to force Toyota to undergo a costly recall.

2006 Toyota Tundra Recalls & Problems at Motor Trend Buyer’s Guide
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I dont want to read what the media produces, or what a bunch of overpaid people in white suits found to be a "flaw." I want to see the actual report of the person's accident that claimed it was because allegedly the balljoints failed. Nobody but that person knows the condition of the vehicle before that accident and how well maintained it was. You mentioned that they were a daily driver/commuter. That's alot of miles put on a truck. What was done for upkeep? Facts facts facts. Not speculation.

I love this! "The front ball joints collapsed, buckling the drivers' side tire under the car. Miraculously I was able to get the car to the shoulder without injury or damage," she said."

Like she knows ON THE SPOT when she was in that accident it was her ball joints. All she had was $$$ in her eyes from the accident and now this giant "recall"

Anyway, we can go back and forth all day arguing if you want. I'm just fed up with people blowing this thing way out of proportion and blaming their poor handling on the balljoints, when so far, we've all heard:

1. I noticed no difference in steering after the recall.
2. My alignment was crappy and my tires wore down too fast. But that's because someone set my alignment with negative camber.
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I'm not arguing. You asked me to produce someone who said that they had an accident due to ball joints. You originally said there was no defect. I produced a sampling of what's out there. I find it amazing that you don't get it. The white lab coated engineers found a defect. They produced failure, which proved that the defect could have consequences for others. They have evidence of other accidents. I gaurantee you that in their analysis they have all of the accident profiles. Do you believe anything? I guess when the pet food company recalled 59 brands of pet food because some had died, you'd accuse those owners of jumping on the band wagon because their sick pet died. I don't lose sleep at night over people like you. I went to school and worked hard to learn what I know and I get paid well to tell others of my findings. I am bound by an ethical code to "get it right" as is the case with any engineer employed in industry. Believe what you like discard the rest and continue to call people lazy including the guy who started the post, whose question was merely, "could ball joints have caused this." :)
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