Front end / wheel alignment issues

10

Asked by Jun 26, 2015 at 12:59 PM about the 1999 Chevrolet Blazer 4 Door LS

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

Hey guys, so I bought a Blazer not
too long ago and it had a few issues
that I've been trying to fix up.  I'll try
to give as many details as I can.

So when I took it on the highway for
the first time, I noticed a wheel
alignment issue where I had to fight it
slightly from veering off to the right.  
Figured it was just an alignment
issue.  Then a few days later it was
obvious that something was
deteriorating with the driver side
front wheel.  I was hearing some
rubbing sounds, and the breaks
would really squeal after driving for
30min.  

Did some research and determined it
was probably the wheel hub.  Had to
go to a shop anyway so I told them
to check out the wheel hub.  They
called me and said that while the hub
needed to be replaced, both front
ball joints needed to be replaced
immediately.  I thought this was
strange because previous owner had
just put in new ball joints and tie
rods, but had them do it anyways (at
least there would be warranty).  

I noticed an improvement right away,
but still ordered a wheel hub and
buddy helped install it for 1/3 the
price the shop wanted.  New ball
joints were less than two weeks ago,
and hub was a few days ago.  Buddy
and I took the blazer out on some
dirt roads to test it all out and it was
fine, except that sometimes the right
wheel was making a similar rubbing
sound that the left wheel was
making.  

I just brought the blazer into the
same shop to get an alignment,
thinking this would solve the
remaining issues since the tires are
obviously still unaligned (yet still
drivable).  

Different mechanic this time, same
shop.  He told me that the driver side
ball joint was already loose so they
will replace it and do alignment next
week.  He said it was covered by
warranty (I hope that includes
labour).  I then told him that this
would be the third ball joint
replacement in three months, and he
then told me some story about how
aftermarket rims are not
manufactured properly and that the
aftermarket rims that came with the
blazer were really for a camaro and
cause a lot of stress on the joints.  
He said everything else was fine,
including everything on the
passenger side.

I need to figure out exactly what the
issue is here because this is costing
a lot of money.  I'm not a mechanic
myself but if I'd have to guess I'd say
not having the tires aligned probably
causes instability issues, not
aftermarket rims, especially when
you have to fight the steering all the
time.  

So I guess my question is if you guys
have any ideas as to what the issue
is, or if you've ever heard of
aftermarket rims causing such issues
(because I don't really want to buy
new rims).

Bonus question:  I also bought a
Bluetooth scanner (BlueDriver) to
figure out for myself what the engine
light/ABS issues were since the shop
would give me a precise answer with
their diagnosis.  I connected the
scanner properly but it's saying it
doesn't detect any issues.  Should I
reset the codes in this case, just to
see if the same codes would
reappear?

7 Answers

33,515

For starters, I wouldn't take my truck there again. If they do a ball joint job and it's falling apart within a week, they certainly don't know what they're doing. You will probably have to replace the other wheel hub if you are hearing the exact same noise. As far as the story about the rims, that's crap. As long as they are round and fit the vehicle, that should be fine. Think about how many people take off the factory rims and replace them with "after market" rims. Every muscle car on the road has a set of Crager rims or some other manufacturer. They are liars. I wouldn't trust any diagnosis from those guys. If you haven't gotten an alignment yet, I would change out the other hub with your buddy and then get it done. Reset the codes and see if they come back.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
Best Answer
10

Yeah I was wondering about doing the other hub as well. Thing is that I'd have to order one online again so I would be driving everything unaligned for at least another week. I'd have to bring it back to that shop to get the ball joint replaced (warranty and all) and maybe aligned but I'd probably not go back there after. I've also been looking into ball joint quality and apparently Moog is the best. When I originally asked this shop about what wheel hub brand they would put in, they wouldn't give me a straight answer other than whatever replacement part they could find. Frankly $500 to do the wheel hub and $200 for each ball joint sounds nuts (CAN$) when I can get high end hub for $160 and joints for $30. I'm really learning all of this as I go along so I'm going to avoid shops from now on.

33,515

Here's a video on how to check the ball joints yourself. That's the great thing about Youtube. Just about any repair job out there is on here. I never let a shop do any work to my vehicle. I do everything myself. On rare occasions I have to take it in for things like an alignment. But that's only to guys I know personally. Here's how to check for yourself if loose. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SkHeDQomX0k

4 out of 4 people think this is helpful.
10

Yes I've found such videos myself, which is very handy (imagine life before Internet!). I only had it at the shop to fix a coolant leak but then they discovered other things that I had little knowledge of at the time. It was practical to just let them do it at the time but I would definitely do it myself from now on. Like you said, alignment needs to be done in a shop. Some friends say we can do it with a tape measure, and that may be fine before I get on a highway. So here's another question, do you think unaligned tires can damage components of the suspension system over time? Everywhere on the net it says it only affects the tires but it must do more if you can't drive in a straight line.

33,515

If anything, it will destroy the tires first. They are the softest material. Having a snow plow will ruin a front end faster than anything else. To really mess up the front end, you would have to be so far out of alignment that you couldn't even drive the vehicle. Pretty much the only thing that is really done in an alignment is just the camber and castor of the tires. In other words the pitch in or out.

16,195

I'm assuming it is a 4x4. If the rims stick too far out it stresses the ball joints. They are already a weak design. The 2 worst things you can do to these ball joints is crank the torsion bars for hieght and put wider setting rims on it.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
10

Former owner said he wanted to put a lift kit on it but never did. It doesn't appear lifted at all. The rims do stick out but not that much. Shop said the tires are fine but the rims are not the correct size. It is a 4x4 blazer but the 4x4 doesn't work anyways and even if it did I wouldn't use it much. Personally I think the issue is poor quality ball joints that local shops were putting in. New parts like that around this city are typically sold by parts stores in unmarked packaging, so obviously not the best quality. The mechanic even said this ball joint should have lasted more than a year, instead of just two weeks on this vehicle. I think I'll just buy some Moog ball joints and have them handy for when this happens again. Just to note, this is in western Canada and I have seen people put Blazers through all kinds of terrain without any issues, typically with their own low-tech modifications and no shops involved. I've had issues with shops before where they just make anything up to demand more money, especially if all I wanted was a simple alignment done. I'm also curious if a sway bar link could affect other suspension parts, especially while turning. These links look like they have seen better days.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

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