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My '94 wagon had ~110K miles on it when I got it, and I almost immediately replaced all of the wearable front steering components that used ball joints with a kit from a somewhat well-known manufacturer (vendor) that claimed its parts had a million mile warranty. The car currently has 160K miles on it. I have lubed the grease fittings three times since installing the new components (including during install), so approximately every 15K miles. I squeeze until I see a little bit of grease escaping past the boot, then I wipe up the excess.

Around 10K miles ago, I noticed that the inner tie rod ends both had play, and I noticed a popping noise from the front end when turning and going over a bump, like when turning into a driveway. I got them to replace one of the inner tie rod ends under warranty but had to order the other one myself as they said they were backordered on it and I didn't want to wait. I haven't yet gotten to addressing the upper and lower ball joints--I suspect at least one of them is bad on each side, causing the popping noise.

While doing an oil change today, I noticed excessive wear on the inside of the passenger front tire. (Alignment had been set within the last 5K miles or so--when I did the inner tie rod ends.) Tugging on the steering parts, I discovered play in the passenger side outer tie rod end.

First, am I greasing the fittings frequently enough, and doing it correctly?

Second, is it reasonable that suspension components should fail this quickly, assuming I am greasing sufficiently?

Third, should I try to get warranty parts out of this manufacturer (oh hell, why am I keeping it a secret--it's Proforged), or should I drop them and replace all of the bad parts with stuff from, say, Moog? I have been fighting steering slop forever and ever and, within reason, cost is no object in getting it sorted out.
 

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I've had my Impala over 20 years,and replaced steering linkage one time,over 10 years ago. You sure seem to have a lot of problems with basic maintenance items I've noticed over time on this forum.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I've had my Impala over 20 years,and replaced steering linkage one time,over 10 years ago. You sure seem to have a lot of problems with basic maintenance items I've noticed over time on this forum.
It's a labor of love, I tell you. But seriously, I'm willing to accept blame if it's due. Based on what I've described above, does it sound like I have improperly maintained the steering components? (As far as install goes, not sure what I could have done differently there--snug down the castle nut securely and put the cotter pin through it.) If not, is it possible that Proforged just had a crappy batch of parts?
 

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Do you use a torque wrench? Who did the alignment,and how good was it? Who knows? Is it possible ProForged parts are bad? I guess anything's possible. Is it likely? No,it isn't...
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Do you use a torque wrench? Who did the alignment,and how good was it? Who knows? Is it possible ProForged parts are bad? I guess anything's possible. Is it likely? No,it isn't...
No torque wrench when installing the castle nuts, but even if I was wildly too tight, could that cause the ball joints to fail prematurely? The torque just snugs the bore up to the tapered shaft and doesn’t load the joint itself. I just go “snug” which can’t be too far off from spec, though if I’d known there was a spec, I’d have used my torque wrench.

How would an alignment cause ball joints or tie rod ends to fail prematurely? The shop that did the alignment is one that has done multiple alignments on multiple vehicles and does good, reliable work.
 

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Flesh-,
The multiplying affect of oversize wheels and tires together with your collective power adders may have stressed the otherwise regular stock suspension/steering pieces holding it all together. The tires are ~15# heavier than stock, and add whatever the Boss' wt. v. stock is over that, so if you push your wagon around to the extent the motor will let you then it just sounds like stress-n-strain city to me.

Failing BJs after just 50k sounds very peculiar, but the rod ends getting sloppy IMHO could be from getting stressed multiple contributing ways due to the other overperforming overwt. conditions.

IDK what exactly Proforge used or uses in their kit, whether documented brand or just nonstamped or fake overseas stuff, so I'm seeing lotsa variables to swat away there.

The alignment: oh boy. Unless 'the shop' that "does good, reliable work" only does alignments, and nothing else, and it cost at least $150-200, and took at least 40 minutes, and you eye-balled the whole time, then a $70-90 "special" is pretty much a sure bet for a toe-n-go that will be perfectly tolerable for a completely box stock unaltered rig. But, oh boy, maybe I'm just a wizened aged type here but any high production national chain will gladly take a car that's nowhere near spec like yours and fudge around until its alotted machine time is used up. But enough cynicism for one morning, the cliffs are there's scads of variables and additive factors that "could" be the cause(s) of what you're seeing. Fix-repair-replace-adjust and learn as appropriate and on to the next thing.

My approach is every time there's a failure it's just an opportunity to make it stronger. No better place for that than steering eh.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I'm not going to bother with trying to RMA through Proforged at this point, given that they gave me a hard enough time about RMAing my inner tie rod ends. (Despite the "million mile warranty", they argued that since I'd ordered the parts back in 2012 or so, they were "out of warranty".. I assured them that the parts on my wagon still had about 950,000 miles left on their warranty and they eventually acquiesced.)

RockAuto has Moog Problem Solver parts. Are those any good?
Tie rod outers.

Upper ball joints

Lower ball joints

Only one of the tie rod outers is bad, but I'm gonna replace both.

I can't tell which ball joints are bad (I've tried the typical tests and can't come up with anything amiss, but I can't imagine what the pop when turning and going over a bump is if not a ball joint.) but I'm gonna just replace all of them and hopefully be done with it.

The alignment shop gives me a printout of the before and after alignment specs, and I have them align to specs that I'd found on the forum here, which feels MUCH better than the stock settings.

Camber -0.8° +/- 0.2°, less negative camber on left side
Caster +5.0° +/- 0.2°
Toe 0.08° IN +/- 0.02°


Not sure what else I should be expecting the alignment shop to do if the end result matches what I've requested.
 

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... But enough cynicism for one morning, ...
Well it's afternoon so here goes.

I actually thought you were joking when you 1st referred to million mile anything. I would have unclicked immediately after even seeing that in an ad. lol

Alignment:
A REALLY paranoid guy may have thought many years back that those 'computer printouts' could be fudged or 'corrected' by 'manual intervention'. But it would take a really paranoid type to think that wouldn't it? Try this; just roll into that shop, mention your problem, ask that they wheel it onto the machine and let you immediately read the numbers - no printout needed. Within spec? You're glad to pay them for 1/4 hour shop rate. All fubared and off base? Free alignment. And ask that you get to watch. Doing alignments on our cars is dam hard to start with. The bolts strip. Eveything's old and dirty and rusted up. Everything's in the way. Now add your 20's and even less enthused to dig in and upset things. Just sayin'. I've said before I ONLY use the one shop I know in town that does ONLY alignments. Costs $125-150. Takes over 1/2 hour at least. Ajustments on both sides are evident when before-after indicate even moderate delta.

Whenever I ever have anything done at a shop, the manager agrees I can watch in that stall, and that the mech. will be amenable, and no 'customers not allowed for insurance' BS, or I say thanks goodbye.

Anything you can document as 'problem solver' - and actually document as genuine MOOG from a reputable vendor is a good choice. RA is fine, but they have to be ultra-competitive just like everyone else and not immune to knock-offs slipping in. And they've gotten dam tough on returns. For critical quality stuff I try local brick-n-mortar that respects importance and value of maintaining good cred. Maybe try NAPA. If close to the same $$$ you get to eyeball the box, packing etc. BEFORE paying. Buy a new cx-link, also called a drag link. Buy a new idler arm.

Your pops could be nothing more than fat tires really aggravating the normal function of ackerman angle (worse effects in reverse?). You could have a collapsed/worn steering stop like on mine letting the tire grab hard on either the stab bar, the frame or steering box bolts in the front, or frame or little side strut in the rear. Or it could be bj. How have you decided they're bad anyway?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Prices are not even remotely competitive. RockAuto is $14.86 (before shipping) for a Moog outer tie rod end. O'Reilly, for the same part number, is $38.99. Of course shipping will drive up RA"s price, but if I get a bunch of components at once, the shipping charge will be pretty inconsequential spread among everything.

I guess I could get parts from RA and from O'Reilly and compare them to see if they look identical / legit.

You've got.. quite a level of paranoia. I am not quite so untrusting. It is a chain, but I know the manager at the shop so I do trust him to ensure that the work is done right, and when he aligned the car to my desired specs, it did drive noticeably better than when aligned to factory specs.
 

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Congratulations, you're a winner in someone else's race to the bottom where we see who can supply the cheapest junk for the lowest price because nobody cares about quality anymore. Friend of mine runs a repair shop and the biggest challenge is getting quality parts - at any price. Most customers don't care if a ball joint is $20 or $40 when you're getting $1k of front end work done. They want it done right and not to fail again. I think the record is 7k miles on a set of ball joints and they were just about falling apart (move freely 1/8" in all directions). When your options are junk, junk and more junk what are you supposed to do? Yep, they'll keep giving you new ones at a cost of about $8 to them and a cost of ~$200 to you each time to get it installed and re-aligned. Pretty soon you get tired of this silly game and just want to buy a quality part.

Anyway...He pretty much exclusively uses Moog for suspension components and has very few returns/issues. He buys through a large parts distribution house, not a local FLAPS CRAP store so they have a bit more interest in insuring quality parts and happy customers when you spend a few hundred thousand/year with them. You should be good with Moog from Rock Auto in my opinion.
 

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Before me diving too deep into this, and analyzing what's been posted thus far...

What brand of components were installed?

Thanks
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Before me diving too deep into this, and analyzing what's been posted thus far...
What brand of components were installed?
Thanks
I bought the entire Proforged front end kit back in.. 2012 or 2013. Not long after I bought my wagon. Car had ~110K on it then, has just over 160K on it now.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Anyway...He pretty much exclusively uses Moog for suspension components and has very few returns/issues. He buys through a large parts distribution house, not a local FLAPS CRAP store so they have a bit more interest in insuring quality parts and happy customers when you spend a few hundred thousand/year with them. You should be good with Moog from Rock Auto in my opinion.
Okay, good to know. Yeah, I feel the pain of crappy parts--I went through three "lifetime" warranty Delco Remy alternators (each was bad in some way out of the box, but did charge sometimes) before getting a 1-year warranty AC Delco that has been fine for 15K miles so far. And optis are tough too--it's either expensive ones that there is no guarantee that they're not just overpriced cheap junk, or the cheap ones, which often fail prematurely. The first one I bought from 1A Auto disintegrated its bearing in under 5K miles. The free lifetime warranty replacement I got from them is a bit noisy but it's still working after ~15K miles.
 

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Is the wear you mentioned on the inside of both front tires, or just one side ?
I had a similar issue where I had an alignment done to my specs of -2 degrees camber, .25” Toe In each side, and a caster angle properly set as close to factory specs and matched as evenly as possible to each other on both sides.
A while back, I had an upper A arm bolt snap and lost the shims that go in there so when my mechanic replaced the Upper arm we got some from a junkyard, and he installed them as they came from the donor car.
I had to replace my front tires not long after as I had wear on the inside down to the steel belts, but plenty of tread on the center and outside of the passenger side tire, the drivers side had fairly even wear.
This situation was created by the improper shims having been used in the repair as each car needs its own shimming to its own spec and are not simply interchangeable.

Having that excessive wear, I took it in for alignment.

I told the alignment shop that the car tracked almost perfectly straight, but wanted it aligned anyway.
At first, the shop manager said if it drives straight why do you even want an alignment done, (he never saw the worn tire, new ones were on) so I explained the wear I had experienced on the passenger side, and wanted it fixed so I wouldn’t destroy another tire prematurely.
They did the job and handed me a spec sheet that showed my camber and toe in as I had requested, but the caster angles weren’t right. They were close to correct on the driver side but barely within spec on the passenger side, and far from matching each other.
Which brings me to the point, Just because a car drives straight when you take your hands off the steering wheel, doesn’t mean the alignment was done completely and correctly.
I immediately told the manager I wasn’t satisfied with the job, showed him the printout spec sheet, and wouldn’t accept that as my finished alignment until they got the caster measurements in the middle of the allowable limits spectrum, and as close to matching on both sides as possible.
He wasn’t happy, mumbled something under his breath and I watched as they loosened the upper A Arm passenger side, and secured the upper bolt with a tack weld (he said the one we bought turns and makes the adjustment more difficult), installed the proper sized shims, and handed me a new printout sheet showing the caster on both sides to now be closer to the center of the acceptable range, and much closer to matching each side evenly
It still tracked straight as an arrow, but now turns better, and took care of the extreme wear on the inner side of the passenger front tire.
None of this address’s your steering components, but it can be the cause of seriously uneven tire wear, and poor steering response.
Just because a car drives straight, DOES NOT MEAN IT’S CORRECTLY ALIGNED.
The only time Caster comes into play is when you’re turning the car, the tighter the turn, the more it negatively affects drivability, and tire wear.
It also puts extra strain on the rest of the front end steering components...
Hope that helps with getting your steering mechanisms to behave properly and last longer.
Do not simply accept the alignment printout without looking at it closely and seeing exactly what each tire is set at and where it’s set within the acceptable min/max limits as listed by GM in its FSM’s, and matched as close as possible to each other.
I hope this helps...
Have a great day and good luck with your tinkering.
 

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Alignment shops rarely go as far as to attempt adjustments of the caster angles since once set at the factory, they usually never need further attention unless (as in my case) the shims were lost, or a substantial accident has occurred and affected the factory alignment.
 

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What condition are the control arms in? They have bushings that wear (and crack to pieces at this point). These cars are 25 years old now and the rubber, no matter how many miles, is checked, cracked and shot. Heck, I noticed rubber cracks on the uppers when these cars were 5 years old! Even my garage queen 25K Impala SS bushings are cracking. And I found big cracks in the GM NOS control arms that I have in storage, never even been on a car.

That said, I've had to replace entire upper control arms my 9C1 cars already. They were complete gone, metal-on-metal. Could definitely feel the popping in the suspension when turning and going over bumps. Replacing the upper control arm gives you new upper ball joints and bushings. I'm lucky to have some NOS GM ones in storage but I've also used the Dorman ones before with good success. You could R&R your existing control arms too. But I find that replacing them is a better idea because you may not know the full history... bent from hitting objects, curbs, etc.

FWIW, bad control arm bushings will cause tire wear. They can be fudged out on the alignment rack with load on the front suspension. But under full suspension travel or full steering angle, the geometry goes way off. A good shop will call them out. A bad shop won't.

If you have the time, money, patience and skill, just replace both the upper and lower control arm assemblies. If you live in the rust belt, getting the old upper control arms off can be frustrating, so read the other threads here about control arm replacement and get a set of Camaro bolts on order before you do. Have the angle grinder handy...
 
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