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VW MKIV-A4 TDIs (VE and PD) This is a general discussion about A4/MkIV Jetta (99.5-~2005), Golf(99.5-2006), and New Beetle(98-2006). Both VE and PD engines are covered here.

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Old September 19th, 2017, 09:43   #1
KrashDH
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Default Aftermarket or upgraded Ball Joints

Hey All;

So I'm getting sick of changing out ball joints. I've gone through 2 sets in about 20k miles out here. Both were Febi. This last set lasted about 6k. Our roads are horrible out here, all the expansion bridges, and just absolutely nothing is maintained, so the car takes a beating.

Do they make an aftermarket, burly solution for the MKIV's (There are 3 big companies that offer aftermarket BJ's for my Cummins that shouldn't need to be changed out again...) or are we stuck with OEM or a company that claims to meet the OEM quality standards?

I want to be done with this for a while. I've searched and found a few companies that make the OEM style ball joint, just wondering what's out there and what has worked for people that are in a similar situation.

Just to clarify ahead of time, boots were not torn on installation, no hammers were used to install. I've gotten decent changing the dang things out I've done it so much.

Thanks in advance!
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Old September 20th, 2017, 07:17   #2
wonneber
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If Febi ball joints only last that long I wouldn't use them again.
How many miles are on the car?
If the original VW ones lasted that many miles (less the 20K) there must be a difference.
Do you but things based only on price?
Did the box say made in China?
ID-Parts has them for your car made by Rein Automotive.
I've just started using them and I do like what I've got so far. (timing belt kit and some electronics)
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Old September 20th, 2017, 08:37   #3
KrashDH
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wonneber View Post
If Febi ball joints only last that long I wouldn't use them again.
How many miles are on the car?
If the original VW ones lasted that many miles (less the 20K) there must be a difference.
Do you but things based only on price?
Did the box say made in China?
ID-Parts has them for your car made by Rein Automotive.
I've just started using them and I do like what I've got so far. (timing belt kit and some electronics)
There's 206k on the car.
The PO had his work done on the car by a reputable shop around here. Usually he had things replaced with OEM. Since the ownership of the car, the first time I changed them out, I don't think they were OEM. I went with Febi because I had heard good things. And it was through a vendor

Do I buy things only on price? Not sure what that means. I buy things that will last so I don't have to do them again. I treat my vehicles very well. I'd rather buy an $800 set of ball joints say for my truck than do the job 4 times and spend $200+ each time on parts. Time is also money right? One and done. OEM or aftermarket is never a debate. If there is a quality part that exceeds (or meets) what OEM can offer, I'll look that route.

I've bought many items from ID parts in the past. Actually just re did my A/C system with parts they sell. But before I jump in and buy that brand I'm trying to get some real world feedback from people who have had success with a manufacturer that does well under harsh conditions. Thought Febi was good but they seem to be more hit and miss...
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Old September 20th, 2017, 08:44   #4
BobnOH
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Here is a five year old post from an expert.
When I first read your post I thought alignment or maybe other suspension component(s), but maybe it is just a QC issues, as Oilhammer eludes to.
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Old September 20th, 2017, 09:26   #5
KrashDH
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BobnOH View Post
Here is a five year old post from an expert.
When I first read your post I thought alignment or maybe other suspension component(s), but maybe it is just a QC issues, as Oilhammer eludes to.
Ah I did come across that post.
Alignment issues are ruled out. Every time I've replaced them I've checked the alignment and if it's not acceptable my OCD makes me go get an alignment.

So far OEM is in the lead I guess...
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Old September 20th, 2017, 12:18   #6
KrashDH
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Does anyone have any experience with the aftermarket greaseable version of our ball joints? I'm hesitant with Moog products but every BJ I've ever come across has the option to grease them except this car...

https://www.amazon.com/Moog-K90355-B.../dp/B000C545LS



I can't really see a downside to this? I'm not sure if it's going to add longevity under harsh and rough driving conditions though...
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Old September 20th, 2017, 13:00   #7
wonneber
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I've used Moog parts in the past on other cars.
Seemed OK back then.
ID-Parts is $19.95 and a vender here.
I stopped looking for the cheapest price years ago after I had to replace all my brakes & rotors shortly after I installed them.
I also replaced my engine temperature sensor after I caught the China one indicating the coolant was something like 175 (F) below 0.
I didn't think the ECU could indicate that.
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Old September 20th, 2017, 13:05   #8
oilhammer
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Lemforder ball joints fit and work perfectly, and last as long as the originals, because that is who made them.
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Old September 20th, 2017, 13:40   #9
KrashDH
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wonneber View Post
I've used Moog parts in the past on other cars.
Seemed OK back then.
ID-Parts is $19.95 and a vender here.
I stopped looking for the cheapest price years ago after I had to replace all my brakes & rotors shortly after I installed them.
I also replaced my engine temperature sensor after I caught the China one indicating the coolant was something like 175 (F) below 0.
I didn't think the ECU could indicate that.
I think you missed my last post...I don't care about cost, I care about longevity. I'm not sure I'll trust those 19.95 ball joints, they're going to be on par with the quality of the Febis...I would gladly spend $60 on a ball joint that would last. I'd be willing to bet I could destroy that ball joint, even if ID parts sells it...
Quote:
Originally Posted by oilhammer View Post
Lemforder ball joints fit and work perfectly, and last as long as the originals, because that is who made them.
I will look into this brand. Can you speak of the abuse they can take?
The Moog's seem to be the only balljoint that offers a zerk. Not sure if this would have any benefit, although I'll take quality materials, machining and tolerances over a greasable joint that will develop slop
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Old September 20th, 2017, 13:45   #10
oilhammer
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No, because I don't abuse my cars. However, I can tell you I have probably installed over 500 of them over the years and I do not know of any that failed again. Most of these cars go 200k+ miles on their original ball joints here. My Beetle still has its originals at 275k.... and I just put new struts, sway bar bushings, control arm bushings, and tie rods on it too. I left the original ball joints alone. They are still fine.

There is not that much stress on these joints, they are not load carrying. If you have repeated failures, they are inferior parts and/or are being installed incorrectly. Period.

I service lots of courier cars, that get driven constantly and driven I'd say pretty hard. And from the amount of blown tires and bent wheels they endure, I'd say they get plenty of abuse. But ball joint failures are not at all common.
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Old September 20th, 2017, 14:06   #11
KrashDH
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oilhammer View Post
No, because I don't abuse my cars. However, I can tell you I have probably installed over 500 of them over the years and I do not know of any that failed again. Most of these cars go 200k+ miles on their original ball joints here. My Beetle still has its originals at 275k.... and I just put new struts, sway bar bushings, control arm bushings, and tie rods on it too. I left the original ball joints alone. They are still fine.
There is not that much stress on these joints, they are not load carrying. If you have repeated failures, they are inferior parts and/or are being installed incorrectly. Period.
I service lots of courier cars, that get driven constantly and driven I'd say pretty hard. And from the amount of blown tires and bent wheels they endure, I'd say they get plenty of abuse. But ball joint failures are not at all common.
I didn't say that I abuse my cars. The suspension is abused due to road conditions.
I do all my own work on all my vehicles, my boat and motorcycle, and sled. I use quality products.

FWIW, the first replacement joints I bought were Febi's...these are the BJ's I bought last time from ECS tuning, which are the ones that recently failed:

https://www.ecstuning.com/b-trw-part...j0407365c~trw/

For $33 a pop, they should last I would think.

The roads out here are atrocious. You can't avoid the expansion joints. There are extremely deep potholes that sometimes can't be avoided. The cobblestone has deviations of a few inches to the rock next to it. The construction yields transitions to torn up pavement that are damn near vertical. Control arm bushings have all been replaced with quality bushings. Suspension is very tight, alignment is spot on, tire wear is even, tires are rotated every 3k. Hell this car has never even seen a dirt road yet.

These failures are not due to bad or incorrect installation. I have been the only one to touch this vehicle since I've owned it as far as work. The boots are protected and the joints are not over-stressed trying to jam the stud up in the knuckle. Everything is loose when installed, snugged, torqued to spec. I'm confident with my mechanical abilities.

That being said, I'll look into lemforder, or OEM. I would just hate to purchase OEM joints to have them fail again in under 10k, I'm fairly surprised no manufacturer offers a better than "OEM" solution.
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Old September 20th, 2017, 14:16   #12
BobnOH
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I do abuse my cars, but not by purpose.
Since you're having this issue you want these
ID Parts
I'd shop for a better price.
!stVWparts
The shipping will add to the cost.
Also- Try your local dealer, bargain with them. Even open a commercial account.
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Old September 20th, 2017, 14:35   #13
KrashDH
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BobnOH View Post
I do abuse my cars, but not by purpose.
Since you're having this issue you want these
ID Parts
I'd shop for a better price.
!stVWparts
The shipping will add to the cost.
Also- Try your local dealer, bargain with them. Even open a commercial account.
Thanks Bob, back to OEM it looks like
If I can get 100k out of them I'd be happy. Heck, if I can get 50 k out of them it's worth it.
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Old September 20th, 2017, 15:02   #14
oilhammer
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KrashDH View Post
I'm fairly surprised no manufacturer offers a better than "OEM" solution.
Because as I have stated, it is not a problem area for these cars. If it were, I'd know about it. I'm under them every day. These cars certainly have their weak spots, ball joints are not one of them.

Try a different brand, and make certain they are installed correctly. Quite frankly I cannot see how you could install one of these "wrong", but maybe something is not seated correctly on the ball stud, or the ball stud bore itself in the carrier is not right.

For that matter, how are you checking them to come to the conclusion that they are bad? They are non load carrying, so they should not have any play.

There are bad roads all over, I doubt it is all because of that. And my Golf used to get driven down four miles of dirt and gravel roads every weekend, with lots of washboard and holes and washouts all over the place. I do my best to go slow, but I am sure it has taken plenty of hits. Its joints are still fine, and I've put 140k miles on the car since I had it, and it had over 380k on it then. I check that at every single service when I rotate the tires, along with everyone else's.
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Old September 20th, 2017, 15:15   #15
KrashDH
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Originally Posted by oilhammer View Post
Quite frankly I cannot see how you could install one of these "wrong", but maybe something is not seated correctly on the ball stud, or the ball stud bore itself in the carrier is not right.

For that matter, how are you checking them to come to the conclusion that they are bad? They are non load carrying, so they should not have any play.
I agree here. With the tapered stud it's kind of hard to install these incorrectly. They "self-seat".

Yes they don't carry any load, but they are a critical "link" in the suspension. Subjected to shock loading is really hard on materials. Hardened materials such as the stud ball in this application could have material failure due to this. IT would almost be better for them if they were loaded.

As far as the symptoms that have risen due to the failures, both times it was a noticeable "clunk" while turning the wheel while backing up first thing in the morning. That same "clunk" would repeat itself when turning into a parkinglot from the street (hitting the slightly raised portion of the drive). The first time I replaced them it was a no brainer, the seal had failed and all the grease was out on one side. The clunk depended on which side the wheel was turned (although it was easy to distinguish this time since when the right wheel hit the transition from street to parkinglot the "clunk" repeated itself. The last time I replaced BJ's, all clunking went away.

Originally I thought it was a CV going, but the failures I've had on those have a clunk which is rhythmic to the rpm's of the vehicle. This was consistent for both sides that failed.
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