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Old 01-21-2009, 02:53 AM   #1
Pete Hanson
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Dodge dissapointment

I took my 2004 RAM 2500 in for routine service yesterday and got a rather big ($$$$) surprise. Being a diesel I expected to spend some cash but nothing like this. It seems the lower ball joints have too much play in them to pass our State inspection and the brake rotors (front and rear) are really rusted out. The truck only has 33,000 miles on it. We bought the truck new in '04 and as you can see by the low mileage we use it primarily for towing the Monty on vacations and weekends and it does a very good job at that. Now I'm thinking the extended warranty might have been a good idea. However, when put in perspective, the truck has required nothing but routine maintenance for the last 5 years so all in all the cost of ownership on an annual basis has not been that bad. It is just that it has hit my wallet all at once. I am going to write a letter to Dodge because I don't think ball joints should be giving out in 30,000 miles regardless of how little you drive it. I have a 1984 Mercedes 380SL with no ball joint problems or rusted brake rotors.
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Old 01-21-2009, 03:36 AM   #2
blarkman
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Interesting, I have an 04, 3500 with 76,000 miles and just did the front brakes. Pads and turned rotors cost 200 and only rrepairs were lift pump which was covered uner warranty Are not the ball joints covered under the 7/70000 coverage. I have not checked the manual
bob
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Old 01-21-2009, 03:59 AM   #3
happy campers
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Ouch! Sometimes it's not the mileage, but the time. I'm pretty sure that this pertains to all the newer trucks produced by the big 3, at least for the heavy pickups, so don't feel alone in this. The brake rotors are no longer a servicable item; they cannot be reconditioned (turned), only replaced. Even OEM rotors are probably made in China out of a poor grade steel, and lack of use might have caused a rust condition that deteriorated them prematurely. If you're handy, brakes are fairly easy to replace. I replaced my rear rotors and pads for about $160. Ball joints? That seems questionable. Keeping them greased regularly is about all you can do for them. On the plus side, a failed ball joint on the road with your trailer in tow wouldn't make your day either. Hope you continue to enjoy RVing.
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Old 01-21-2009, 05:18 AM   #4
Pete Hanson
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Frank, I think you may be right about time vs mileage. I know that time alone can take its toll on todays vehicles. I usually perform my own brake work but the weather up here in the Northeast is just too cold without a heated space to do the work. So for this event I will just suck it up and let the dealer do the work understanding that the truck has given me great maintenance free performance for 5 years. The thing that bugs me the most is the ball joint issue and I will be having a talk with Dadge about that one. I have had the truck faithfully serviced according to the owners manual so I hope the dealer is not pulling a fast one on me. He has a good reputation so I do trust him.

Bob, if i remember correctly,when I bought the truck in '04 it came with a 3 year, 32,000 mile warranty for everything except the motor which has a 100,000 mile warranty. Not sure what the drive train has on it for warranty. Maybe I can convince Dodge that the ball joints are part of the drive train....LOL

Pete
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Old 01-21-2009, 05:29 AM   #5
blarkman
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Ya I checked my book and mine says 3/36 and it also says vehicles built 0n or before by looking at bar code labeling on door frame and that tells u buit date, 10/01/03. I got this from warranty book. I do live out west and spend the winters down south so do not have the salt problem. The rotors are separate from hubs and I had scored mine but was able to turn and they said rotors were only 27 each so I was lucky
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Old 01-21-2009, 09:53 AM   #6
bigmurf
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2004.5 with 100k on it. Ball joints at 35k was under warranty. Ball joints again at 76k. There are no zerks on the OEM ball joints. Be sure you replace them with something that has a lifetime warranty (at least the replacement parts will be free but not labor). Brakes are still good. Also replaced lift pump at 96k. Of course the lift pump is a plastic POS mounted on the filter.
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Old 01-25-2009, 12:50 PM   #7
Thunderman
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I think I would get a second mechanics opinion. I would think the rust on the rotors would be wiped away by use of the pads.
Good luck!
Weldon
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Old 01-25-2009, 04:53 PM   #8
clutch
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The first and second generation Dodges suffered with a poor quality automatic transmission and a crummy lift pump mounted on the side of the engine.

The third and fourth generation Dodges only suffer from crummy balljoints and an equally bad lift pump. They have a much nicer ride than the older trucks but the lower balljoints now carry more of the weight and don't usually last very long.
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Old 01-26-2009, 02:40 AM   #9
sgtpp214
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After our trip to AK in '07 I had to have all four ball joints replaced and the right front bearing fell apart when checked. This was at 74,694 miles. This past Dec, '08 had to replace front brake pads and rotors and finally had to replace the Michilans at 104,789 miles. Everything else including ball joints OK. Being this is the first truck I have owned that I pulled a big ol fiver, I can't judge whether these are normal or bad wear and tear..
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Old 01-26-2009, 03:23 AM   #10
exav8tr
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sgtpp214, Are you saying you got 100k miles on your tires?????? If so, that must be some kind of record!!! Sorry to be off topic here but that is a lot of miles...
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Old 02-01-2009, 05:56 AM   #11
RonD
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Pete, I have been there with my 2005 Dodge. Dodge has had problems with a few thongs, Ball Joints, U-joints, and Lift Pumps. My 05 has the pump in the tank so that is not a problem. I just replaced all my Ball Joints with one's that have zerks, also I replaced the front axle u-joints, I am replacing all the driveshaft u-joints with one's that have zerks. The only advice I can offer is have good after market parts installed, not Dodge parts from the dealer, also I suspect being an East Coast truck the salt and weather is a factor, Ron
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Old 02-02-2009, 04:17 AM   #12
sgtpp214
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You read right Phil and I was still short of hitting the wear ribs. I find it kinda hard to believe too. Needless to say I replaced them with Michelins again. I followed some basic rules; 1) rotated tires every other oil change, approx 10,000 miles, 2) change tire pressure based on use; 50 front and 40 rear when not towing, 60 front and 75 rear when towing. Strangely, we were at a CG north of Houston and found out the owner was a retired Michelin area rep for SE US and he said as long as I kept up those rules they would easily give me 100,000.
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Old 03-09-2009, 03:05 PM   #13
sreigle
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Pete, I think I'd get a second opinion.

As a college student having one new tire mounted on my 1964 Pontiac LeMans, the Goodyear dealer showed me that my ball joints were shot and a wheel would likely fall off very soon. With the car on a lift he shook the wheel up and down and scared the heck out of me. I drove it home, 67 miles, very carefully and told my Dad. He was hot at that Goodyear dealer. Dad knew what I didn't, that particular action is normal for GM vehicles of that vintage. Nothing wrong with it. Some dealer just look to make money.

We also have a 2004 Ford Focus Wagon. The heat on the driver's seat quit. It acted to me like a switch. The nearby dealer looked at it and told me it needed two new seats with heating units and one switch. $955. I walked. Later I pulled the switch and could see it was defective. I bought the part for $38 and tax and it has worked fine ever since.

I'd recommend a second opinion.
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Old 03-10-2009, 06:10 AM   #14
kilch123
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I agree on the second opinion on the ball joints (and the brakes)

Brake rotors will get rust from sitting - if they sit too long, the braking surface can end up with some pitting, but unless severe this is not a justification for changing them

Just FYI - 99 3500 with 170,000 miles on original ball joints, and Michelins (only 3rd set, and they were just installed)
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Old 03-10-2009, 09:35 AM   #15
Pete Hanson
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Hey Steve....good to hear from you. I agree with you guys about getting a second opinion and I did. The poor balljoints were confirmed by another mechanic. If you google Dodge Ram Ball Joints you will get some hits from other people who have experienced the same problem as I have with the premature death of the ball joints. It seems as though the problem arose with trucks made from 2003 on and its not restricted to Dodge. If you were to inspect the ball joints you won't find grease zerks on many of them. I am being told that around 2003/2004 the manufacturers outsourced those parts to China, and other offshore manufacturers, and of course the results are inconsistent quality in the manufacturing process. On many trucks you get premature wear of the balljoints. The suggested fix was to get aftermarket, made in the USA, parts complete with grease fittings. The brakes were deemed ok afterall. Here in Massachusetts our vehicles undergo an annual safety inspection and the original balljoints would not have passed this inspection.

I hope all is well with you.
Pete
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Old 03-10-2009, 09:41 AM   #16
H. John Kohl
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Pete,
I guess I did not read your first post closely enough. I had to replace the Ball Joints on Red at about 60K. I have 4x4 on mine and was given the option to put "lock out hubs" up front. I did not do it because I needed the truck a couple days later. Looking back it may have helped with a couple MPGs. Now the question is would I have ever made up that savings? Probably not.
So, if you have a 4x4, you have a chance to think about that option too. I also did not take the extended insurance. I just put the money in the bank and let it draw interest and hope I win.
Good luck.
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Old 03-11-2009, 08:23 AM   #17
sreigle
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Hi Pete, I'm glad you got it all taken care of and the brakes are ok. I appreciate the info on the ball joints and will keep an eye on ours.

We were up at Mansfield this past Fall and had hoped to get together with you two again. But one thing led to another and it just didn't happen. No excuses, we just let the time get away. One of these days we'll get there again.

Take care and 'hi' to Karen.
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