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Wesley

Premature ball joint failure on Gen 2 Edge

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As I posted in my topic of front end noise with our 2016 Edge at 48,000 miles.

Our 2016 Ford Edge Titanium has made a front suspension noise for the past year.  I first noticed the noise at about 48,000 miles, and is now at 56,000 miles.  It was first heard/felt as a clunk or knock in what I believed was the left front suspension area and when first moving from a stop, eventually to an extreme grinding and popping when turning or going over a bump.  I could feel it in the floorboard.  Our driveway is gravel and has a long turn-radius of about 200 feet.  During the entire turn, the clunking is VERY noticeable. 

 

When I asked the dealership where we purchased the vehicle new in Feb of 016 of the noise, they could not duplicate the noise when I enquired about it when they did an oil change, nor did they find anything wrong on a subsequent oil change.  I asked if they have had any complaints about front end noise and they said they didn't but they did state they had replaced quite a few strut bearing plates.  They said there were no TSB's on that problem.  Several visual front end suspension inspections showed no obvious faults.  Out of frustration, I even removed the drivers side strut for an inspection but couldn't find anything wrong.

 

Shortly after I had the last oil change, I noticed the vehicle would not track in a straight line and any road imperfections would send the vehicle into another lane.   When they changed the oil, the vehicle was lifted, unloading the front suspension.   This sudden difference in driving attitude told me something was loose causing a tire toe change.  I raised the vehicle myself and found that the drivers side lower control arm ball joint had almost 1/4" movement!  This lower ball joint movement resulted in about 1/2" tire toe in-toe out while driving.  I obtained an estimate from the dealership for a replacement and was quoted around $650.00 with the arm being almost $375.00 alone (the ball joint is integral to the lower control arm).

I ordered one online with the proper bolts and replaced it myself.  The noise is now gone and the vehicle drives normally.  I will be checking the passenger side ball joint more thoroughly as my wife says she feels a knock in the passenger floorboard too.  I checked it when I had the arm off but I felt there wasnt enough movement to require replacement.  According to my online Chiltons repair manual, there should be no play in the joint but I felt a little.

 

Question:  I have been driving vehicles since the mid 1960's, many well over 250,000 miles and many others with never replacing a ball joint under 100,000 miles.  Somehow, this feels like abnormally premature ball joint wear.  No one can say it was due to a lack of maintenance as the joint does not have a lube fitting.  The vehicle has never been in an accident or curb hopped. 

 

About me:

I am a retired ASE Master Auto and HD Truck Technician, one of the first group to be certified as such in 1976.  I taught advanced automotive diagnostics and repair at the local Community College in the mid to late 80's and fully retired as the director of education for a nationally recognized automotive training program.  I retired the ASE Master status in 2000 and served on the ASE advisory panels for over 10 years (I helped write the tests).  To simply put things into perspective, I feel I know my way around a vehicle and feel fully competent in repairing faults and performing most of our vehicle repairs.

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Mine is similar.  It's not horrible but I get a popping noise sometimes when reversing from the front driver side and it wanders with imperfections the road.  Haven't noticed any play the last time I rotated the wheels.  I'll have to check again. I have a 16 edge sport.

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I had to do ball joints on my last F150 at 90K miles.  50K is early, but sometimes you get the out of spec parts.

 

Edit: My SHO had 3 of it's 4 wheel bearings replaced at less than 40K miles.  Never had other vehicles with bearing issues like that.   At least the bearings were done under warranty.  Been good for the last 15K since they were replaced though.

Edited by IWRBB

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Final update:

After I doublechecked the passenger side lower ball joint, I found it to be considerably out of spec as well plus the rubber boot showed signs of wear.  This in a vehicle that sees no abnormal use and just at 55,000 miles.  I replaced it (the lower control arm) as well and after an alignment, all feels like new again.  Still, I feel considerably disappointed that a vehicle with this mileage showed such abnormal ball joint wear.  The vehicle was unsafe to drive with these ball joints at the wear level.  It would dart from one lane to another on some roads.

Lastly, when I priced the repair at our local dealer, he indicated he would use "Quality Ford Replacement Parts".  My quick response was "the original quality ford parts were pretty crappy, why should I use them again!"

Edited by Wesley
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I got the drivers side lower control arm from eBay because Rockauto was temporarily out of stock.  I got the passenger side lower control arm from Rockauto.  Both were considerably less expensive than the Ford items (a bit sour on Ford at the moment).  Strangely, Moog and other reputable suppliers dont make a replacement!  Advance Auto, OReilly, Autozone, NAPA, none of those show a replacement.

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We drove it off the showroom floor and this is what is so frustrating.  This is not our first Ford nor our first new vehicle.  My previous 08 Edge had almost 180,000 miles with few problems, and certainly none as premature as this.

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