February 11, 2012

Diagnosis: Ball Joint

A body needs very few thing in this world to be truly happy and it varies by person. For me, one of those essential things is a good and trustworthy mechanic.

Dave has one of those small town shops about 30 minutes from me. He never changes to just take a look at the Jetta, he never comments about the fact there's a bed in the back, he talks to me like an adult and explains what's wrong, he's even gone so far as to drive to my apartment (when I had one) to check the car out in my driveway. Just a really nice guy and we always spend ten to fifteen minutes chatting about his six kids and all that's going on with the family and the town.

So I dropped the car off at his shop yesterday afternoon and walked down to McDonald's to sip a coffee and use their WIFI while I waited for the diagnosis. The issue was that when I stepped on the breaks the front passenger tore started squealing, which I assumed to mean I'd worn through the break pad and was quickly wrecking the router. Not so, says Dave. My ball joint is busted, or nearly busted. He can get the part on Monday along with the knew tire (It's worse than the one I replaced a few months back).

So this whole things should cost me a little under $300 ($220 for the ball joint and $50 for the tire), which is worth it to keep her on the road. It's never something huge where I could justify getting rid of her, just small things that slowly whittle away at my wallet.


  1. 3 weeks ago I went to the see my very young and very cute Doctor Natalie and smiling sadly I told her I was so sorry for not coming for a visit during the last 4 years as I did not really feel that sick "seeing that I sort of now looked like your car" she said to me : YOU wouldn't treat your car like that ?

    You do have a very very good & cheap Mechanic named Dave....

  2. Ball joints are not that expensive. See http://www.autopartswarehouse.com/details/QQVolkswagenQQJettaQQMoogQQBall_JointQQ19941997QQMOK9913.html

    You are probably paying mostly for labor. Have Dave check out all the ball joints to see if another is worn or near failing. It may cost a little more if you have to replace two or so but it will save you down the road on labor. Talk to Dave about this and see if he agrees.


  3. Hi Ash,

    I am glad to hear that you are getting the ball joint replaced. Based on what other places are charging, I think his rates are in line with others. Labor has always cost way more than the parts but at least you get a warranty with most repair work. Surprisingly, parts haven't gone up that much. Then again, cars are lighter and the parts are made in China...

    I agree with John - ask the Dave about the ball joint on the other side, just for peace of mind. It may be okay. If he tells you that the other side is in great shape and doesn't need fixed, all the better. There are still plenty of good guys out there who will tell the truth and know it keeps loyal customers.

    It sounds like you have a good mechanic who you can trust. I am happy to hear that he found the problem. If the ball joint had broken at highway speed it could have caused an accident or worse. Glad you caught it in time.

    Have a great day!

  4. Ash

    What's the update, are you on the road again ? Did you make your 200k yet ? As you were only 300 miles away.


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