Close Call in the SS Tonight.... - Chevy Impala SS Forum
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post #1 of 36 (permalink) Old 07-29-2004, 02:38 AM
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Read on, and use it as a learning experience. I know I will [img]smile.gif[/img]

So, I had run out over lunch hour today to "swap out" cars and get my SS for the ROD South Bay meeting tonight. Gunned it a bit on the way back to work.....nothing major, just having fun around a few corners (the car is on the autocross tires right now).

At 6:45, head out the door for the short drive to Bennigan's for the meeting (it is about 5 minutes from work). Get a half mile from work, around the first right hand sweeper on Duane Ave going towards Lawrence and.....


...right front of the car collapsed off the lower balljoint! Fortunately only doing about 25 MPH at the time, managed to limp it over to the curb despite the wheel completely locking up as it got shoved into the inner fender and the wheel wedged itself against the lower control arm. LOTS of tire smoke, and the right front frame is now about 1" off the ground. And left some nice scrape marks on the road too [img]smile.gif[/img]

Fortunately, Trevor Gould was able to come over to where I was on the side of the road with some floorjacks and basic tools. I also looked on the road where it broke and much to my surprise quickly found the lower balljoint castle nut.....WITHOUT a piece of stud in it?!?!?!? HUH??

Turns out what had happened is that the balljoint did NOT break (which is what has happened 99% of the time that you get the symptoms I did). Rather, the cotter pin had broken on the balljoint at some point (found remnants of the pin inside the hole thru the joint) and the nut had slowly been backing off. Once it got down to the last 2 threads, it let go when I went around a right hander that let the balljoint "come loose".

The threads on the balljoint were not buggered up, although the nut sure was!

I had THOUGHT the right front of the car looked slightly low lately, but had just assumed I was parked on a slope and/or was being paranoid (which happens when you have recently changed as much crap on the car as I have changed in the last few months).

After a parts store run (and finding out they didn't have the right nut in a castle-nut), Trevor got a pair of Grade 8 regular nuts of proper size. Installed the first nut and torqued it down, then put on the second nut as a backing nut (also torqueing it down against the first nut). Got it back together enough to carefully drive the car back to work (it felt fine) and park it.

Final KNOWN damage : </font>
  • Buggered up the inside of the Forgeline wheel. It should be fixable, and the tire is holding air just fine.</font>
  • Flat-spotted a Kumho VictoRacer tire......should be OK, but it'll "thump" for a while [img]smile.gif[/img]</font>
  • Scraped up the powdercoated inner fender in one'll live [img]smile.gif[/img]</font>
  • Scraped up lower control arm.</font>
  • Obviously, the lower balljoint is short for this world [img]smile.gif[/img]</font>
UNKNOWN :</font>
  • any other damage to the control arm.</font>
  • Any damage to the shock bottom mount.</font>
  • Any damage to the spindle, especially if it has been moving around for a "while" on that lower balljoint.</font>
Now for the ironic part : I not only have 2 NEW AC Delco lower balljoints at home in packages, but also just YESTERDAY I had ordered the entire new "Enhanced" front end kit (tierod ends, centerlink, idler, and BALLJOINTS) from Power Performance off the this Forum. I was planning on swapping out all of this stuff next week anyways!

For now, I'll limp the car home on side streets (5 miles) and go from there. Also doing a "secret" new upgrade with the new parts in front that no-one else has done before.....I'll unveil it if it works [img]smile.gif[/img] .
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post #2 of 36 (permalink) Old 07-29-2004, 03:11 AM
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and you said you were going to install rustic's tubular a-arms. i bought them monday. you were real lucky
post #3 of 36 (permalink) Old 07-29-2004, 07:23 AM
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Dang, Ed! But you forgot to add to your "known damage" list: brown stain in center of driver's seat.

Glad to hear that nothing more serious came out of this. Be careful out there.
post #4 of 36 (permalink) Old 07-29-2004, 07:56 AM
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Damn, Ed. I'm glad you're ok ! I've heard some REALLY evil stories of the lower ball joint breaking at much higher speeds, it's all you can do to keep the painted side up if that happens.

I get paraniod too when I think my car is tilting to one side or the other, I'll pay even more attention now !
post #5 of 36 (permalink) Old 07-29-2004, 08:15 AM
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Glad to hear the damage was light. Good thing it did not happen at speed on 101! I should have come to the meeting last night.

post #6 of 36 (permalink) Old 07-29-2004, 08:26 AM
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Ed, thats terrible. I am glad you did not do more damage that you did. I for one am going to double check all my ball joints next time I have my cars up in the air.
post #7 of 36 (permalink) Old 07-29-2004, 10:36 AM
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Milt : don't worry, you were next on the "call" list to bring some tools/jacks if Trevor hadn't been home . BTW, you can easily see the scrape marks on the Duane Ave from my incident last it marking my territory [img]graemlins/.gif[/img] [img]graemlins/.gif[/img]

Terry : fortunately, the NEW leather upholstery (I redid the seats front and rear 2 months ago.....since you drove the car earlier this year) is still clean [img]smile.gif[/img] .
post #8 of 36 (permalink) Old 07-29-2004, 12:09 PM
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Damn Ed, you must be livin' right.
post #9 of 36 (permalink) Old 07-29-2004, 12:19 PM
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Ed: Glad you OK and car seems to be mostly good too. Very fortunate it wasn't at high speed. Going out to garage tonight and check all my cotter pins.
post #10 of 36 (permalink) Old 07-29-2004, 01:41 PM
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Damn Ed,

Glad to hear everthing worked out,
Glass is half full.. [img]graemlins/.gif[/img]

Now the question I have, Is what kind of Cotter Keys you have been using?,, theoreticly there should be NO WAY a castelataed nut can overcome a Cotter Key. I know a lot of the vehicle parts suppliers, supply zinc coated steel cotter pins and they should be strong enough, but I have a large supply of Mil Spec Stainless keys that I use..

If I was a suspicious individual Ed, I would think your BJ Nut had some help overcoming the cotter Pin [img]graemlins/.gif[/img]
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