Which of these is causing the loud driving?

So, my truck has been loud on the road recently. I took it to the shop and they told me that my lower ball joints are leaking on the passenger side and that the Sway/Stability bar is shot. It will cost me in the realm of $750 to repair them. That is parts and labor. The sway/stability bar is ~$157 parts/labor and the rest is the ball joints.

which is the most likely to be causing the racket when going over bumpy roads. The roads in my area are atrocious and I wish I could bill my city for the damage the roads have done to my truck. I replaced the ball joints (upper and lower) 3 years ago with Moog parts ($400/pair),

Always ask for your old parts back unless they are going to give you a discount as a core return, and you should consider changing the bushings to something better (polyurethane or the more expensive delrin) as rubber bushings tends to rot in that time span (3 years) under harsh conditions, and would cause a ridiculous amount of noise and wear to other parts once partially rotted out.

but which part is the noisy one? The Sway/Stability bar? Or the lower ball joints?

Most likely the sway bar since it doesn't actively bear weight it's probably what's rattling (or if it's creaking it could be either)... though i'd place more importance on getting those lower ball joints replaced.

Could be both. I don't know what the state of what your parts actually are or where you live. If it's cold out where you live that can cause small amounts of condensation buildup which isn't really a huge factor, but if the ball joints are noisy it's usually because they need lubrication. Tell the guy to use silicon spray or lithium grease just so it won't corrode anything. There are other types of chassis greases but just don't use wd40 as it will corrode rubber. If you have after market or custom parts installed they could have a grease fitting already threaded into it for taking care of a squeaky parts.

But keep in mind, if they recommend replacing what you own and have installed, they actually mean it. I assume it's a reputable shop, or at least you shopped around to different shops (which I highly recommend you do) and they all told you the same thing. All I am providing you is an alternative solution that doesn't mean it will fix the problem but will more or less create a band-aid if there is a serious issue. Last thing you need is a ball joint or your lower sway bar to fly off in the winter time and cause yourself an accident or a pile up behind you...being serious btw.

Be nice to know the type truck, age, and mileage, if your ball joints were replaced 3 years ago then it's doubtful that they are bad now especially since you used Moog parts and I'd assume they were properly greased and have been greased since. But the sway bar bushings and links (links connect the sway bar to the lower A frame) are high failure items on most vehicles, best bet is to raise the vehicle up and look for yourself, if you know what a sway bar looks like it's fairly easy and straight forward to do the repairs yourself if it's the only problem....if you have doubts post a few pictures of it.

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Yeah I thought it was a bit crazy they would wear out so fast...

Yeah, ball joints are life of the vehicle (100k miles) items, and Moog are very good parts that should provide at least that type of service life, but the sway bar bushings and links are prone to breakage and will bang and clang with every little dip in the road once broke.....pics would be worth a lot to see the problem.

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2002 ford Ranger 182,000 Miles. I have been having the Moog joints greased every time it is serviced.
i hate this thing but can't afford to replace it.
It gets 12-15 MPG. V6 3.0L 2x4

As a power of deduction I would say go to a couple other shops and see what they say. If one tells you it's only the sway bar, and another tells you it's the sway bar bushings, and another tells you it's the ball joints, consider replacing all of them but with up-rated bushings that last longer.

does Moog make Sway Bars? the family mechanic is offering to do both the joints and the sway bar for $200-$300 less.

Call them. It's Saturday. They should be open.

'02 Ranger should have around steel bar as a sway bay unless it broke in half (unlikely) it would just need the bushings or link kit (likely) and not a whole sway bar it takes a lot of effort to break a sway bar.

http://www.summitracing.com/parts/ens-4-5156g?seid=srese1&gclid=CNTIrPDipsgCFQ6oaQody_wOYQ

Look at this kit it includes the bushings and links, I just looked it is a solid steel bar, unless it's broke in half someone is trying to screw you.

This vid shows you how to replace the links, as you can see the bar is hefty and I would seriously doubt it needs replacing.

They must be talking about just the bushings on the bar. The quote pages have this as the description.

Stabilzer Bar - Front Suspension (SSBF)
Replace stabilizer bar / bushings as required. Inspect balance of related components.


SWAY BAR FM BUSH/KIT
KIT - FRONT TO FRAME - 27mm
SWAY BAR DIA


R&R F Stabilizer Bar Bushing - Both.


Total Estimated parts: $43.03
Total Estimated Labor: $114.00
Job Total: $156.03

Depending on where you live that might be a fair price, but if they are only replacing the bushings and not the links then the labor is way off, it's 4 bolts (2 per bushing holder), if the tech uses a air ratchet it's a 10 min job if he's a idiot and does it by hand then it might be a 30 min job at best, now if they are removing the links to un-tension the sway bar then yeah the tech might spend a little more time but if they put the truck on a lift so they are not laying on their back doing the work it'll take more time to get the truck on the lift and up in the air then it'll take to replace the bushings.

But if you don't have the tools or the inclination to do the work yourself $150 isn't like they are bending you all the way over...just a little bit. lol I'm sure this is a independent shop not a dealership because the price is way too low for the dealer overhead.

I think this is my sway bar. It looks loose as hell to me.

It's missing the lower rubber bushing that goes between the link tube and the swaybar, the reason it looks loose is because there is suppose to be rubber on both sides of the swaybar where it connects to the link. So your hearing the noise on the drivers side? this is the source of the noise when you hit a bump, if you do it yourself (see the video I posted above) it's really a easy job and the parts shouldn't be more than $40 from a auto parts store....but do both sides.

This is all you need.

I watched a video on how to do it to a ranger. Do i have to jack the truck up on blocks or can I do it stand alone?

If you can reach everything you can do it on the ground, but to take the tension off the sway bar it might be better to have both wheels off the ground of course property support the vehicle with jack stands or..... but they can be changed either way just do one at a time, should be rather easy as long as the long bolt going through the link tube isn't frozen...buy the new parts before you do the work and do the side that is bad first that way you can look at the passenger side if you need a reference....