Jeep Compass

 

Do you own a Jeep Compass or Dodge Caliber?

 

Our Jeep is a 2007 Compass 4x4 and was purchased new.

At 3 years old and only 19,000 miles on the odo the Jeep started to make very heavy clunking noises in the front suspension.

My first thoughts were Strut or something loose but to my shock I found both ball joints completely rusted and wore out and having 1/2 inch of dangerous slop and play.

Ok If you don't know anything about cars then understand that if the lower ball joint fails completely the lower anchor point for the front wheels is lost and the wheel folds up in the fender and you loose control. 

This is a major problem on this platform and Jeep / Mopar is doing nothing to address this issue on several years of products.   

If you go to NHTSA and do a vehicle problem look up you will find thousands of complaints on this but you have to know how to look.

NHTSA will not show you more than one year at a time and they break the vehicle lines into 2X4 and 4X4 and they show the Dodge product also but you have to actually search for more than just your style of vehicle and for each year to see how big this is.

2007 up.

Here's just one complaint filed.  

Date Complaint Filed: 04/25/2012
Component(s): SUSPENSION
Date of Incident: 04/25/2012
NHTSA ID Number: 10456465
 

All Products Associated with this Complaint expand

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No recall ?     WHY ?   It would bankrupt them.   This problem runs across most of their product lines and several years of production.

They are all failing and some have been dealer rebuilt to only fail again after another 20,000 miles.

Tie rod ends are also failing at the same time.

The reason.    The factory part is such a piece of junk that they collect water and fail in very short use.  Being sealed and no grease zerk is not really the problem. Sealed ball joints have been around for over 50 years but they have to made to be some standard of Quality. I'm sure the part source for these was China or India.

 

Jeep has made is clear that Quality is not important to them, only price.

Below I will show you how to fix your jeep once and for all.   Don't take it to the dealer as he will just swap the entire lower arm with the same junk part and guarantee that you will do the repair again. These are money makers for the dealers. 

The dealer cost is over 500 a side for the repair but if your smart and can work on your car you can do it for less than 250 dollars or take it to a private shop and take the parts with you.

Don't buy the assemblies on eBay or dealer or you will just do it again and again and again.

Those lower control arm assemblies have the same bad ball joint in them and they will fail again.

Moog has a Problem Solver Part that fixes this. Made from hardened blue steel and having a grease zerk the part is the only way to fix this once and for all.   They also have tie rod ends made the same way to replace the other half of this problem.

Driving with loose ball joints and tie rod ends will eat your tires in no time at all, never mind the safety risks.

There is another write up on the web by an auto site that tells you to take off the brakes and unhook the tie rod ends.   Don't do it.   You can remove the lower arm easily if you leave the steering wheel unlocked so you can turn the spindles back and forth from left to right and by leaving it unlocked you can actually pull the strut out of the way.

I changed both lower ball joints on ours and the average time was just about an hour a side.

You will need the correct metric tools, Jack and Stands and access to a press.

Parts are available thru many auto suppliers.

Moog # K500063 for ball joint.

Tie rod ends are also available from Moog and if your going to change them do it after the ball joints.

Doing the tie rods will be easy but if you're not careful you will need an alignment after.

Once the ball joints are in set back on the ground and you can turn the car full left, lock the steering wheel and change the right side tie rod end.   Remove the nut.  Tap out of the spindle and carefully unthread off the tie rod.   Then screw back in and when you have it right it will slip back in the spindle easily.  Go one turn at a time and check fit.   DO NOT MOVE THE TIRE OR STEERING WHEEL.   If you do your point of reference is gone and you will need an alignment.

If you have the wide rims as we do I recommend that you work the tie rod ends loose while it's up in the air and then with them just snug set on ground and turn the wheel and do one side at a time.

This tie rod procedure will get you close but you should really have a front end alignment done after the work.

One other note.   4X4 units have lower ball joint issue on the rear wheels too.

We have owned 3 jeeps.   Two liberty's and both of them were recalled for ball joints but we leased and got rid of them. 

 

There is no excuse for this problem but bad parts.   They may have saved 5 dollars a side on the part but it's cost them a customer forever. Never mind that the resale value is gone on these vehicles.  I actually talked to Jeep on the phone over this and their response was "what problem?"

I own over 20 vintage cars and been working on them for over 40 years so know BAD when I see it.

Right side before the change.

This is a view of the lower joint on the front right before the change.

Rear view of the right side

Notice the tie rod end at the back and ball joint at the bottom.

Remove Pinch Bolt

View shows the pinch bolt for the ball joint with the nut removed.

Tap the bolt out with a drift and then use a heavy screwdriver to spread the clamp portion of the spindle.

Once you do that it's easy to pull the lower arm.

Arm removed

Note the screwdriver tapped in to spread the clamp portion of the spindle.

Lower arm off

There are two other bolts to remove to pull the arm.

There easy. The front bolt is horizontal and the rear is vertical. There easy to see and work with.

The rear bolt just backs out straight down.

Close view of the Junk ball joints.

No Excuse for this.

Another view of the screwdriver trick.

Leave the screwdriver tapped in until your ready to reinstall and use good jack stands.

View of front arm mount.

Location of front horizontal arm mounting bolt.

Rear mounting point

Location of vertical mounting bolt.

Removing old Ball Joint

Pressing out the old ball joint.

Pressing out old

You have to cut the old rubber boot off to press them out.

Pressing in new.

You need to be aware that the Moog part inserts from the top. They go in backward to the OEM and have a snap ring that you apply underneath once pressed in.

New in and seated in place

Notice the dark blue gray hardened steel of this part.

New in and ready to assemble

Here is the new part installed. Note the shoulder on the joint that seats down on the top of the arm.

Remember to install the underside lock rings and rubber boots.

New part in.

The Moog part inclued a new pinch bolt.

Use it. Do not put the old back in.

Another view of new with grease zerk.

Be sure to put the grease zerk in last to avoid damage to it.

Different view of new.

Put the two bolts that support the arm in hand tight and once you get the pin on the ball joint back in the spindle and tight go back and tighten the vertical and horizontal rubber bushing bolts.

View of ball joint and aft vertical mounting bolt.

White grease or anti sieze will make this go faster and If you ever have to take it apart again it will be much easier.

Front horizontal mounting bolt.

Note the white grease. Get you a spray can and use it.

Squeaking front ends will drive you crazy.

Rear arm mount

When reinstalling you have to place the rear of the arm in first.

Almost done.

Rear view after all back together.

Note new pinch bolt.

Grease Zerk

Be sure to turn the grease zerk away from the wheel.

Wheel back on.

View with tire installed and ready to go.

Be sure to give the new joint a couple shots of grease.

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