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In Accident - Advice Needed


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big whammy to right front of car - ls400 1st gen. car traveling at about 20mp and hit concrete wall at an angle. right wheel is splayed. shop told me they would be able to tell what repairs were needed to get it back into alignment once it was up on the rack but that it prob needed a new tie rod. then after tie rod was replaced, got a call saying that car wouldn't align and that they now need to replace the ball joint, and if it still doesn't align, they would need to replace another (more expensive part). when i asked why they didn't see there was a problem with the ball joint when they first had it up on the rack, was told it was 'inside' the wheel, hard to see, or some such thing.

talked to another mechanic (not at this shop) who told me a ball joint has nothing to do with the alignment, and that an impact like that more commonly damages the steering rack (which is connected to both wheels). the second mechanic said they might replace all the parts on the wheel and the car still may not align if the probl is with the steering rack. was also told the ball joint is visible in plain sight if the car is up on the rack as would be damages to that area (whether tie rods, front strut, ball joint or other) and that there is no reason for the shop to replace parts one by one.

can anyone here confirm that replacing a ball joint is not going to affect or improve alignment? if not, why would this shop tell me they need to replace it for that purpose? is it that they don't know what they are doing? is it true a damaged ball joint is not easily seen/visible?

one person is telling me one thing, and the other person another. if it were you, with this type of damage, what would you have checked out/replaced, and in what order?

i need to proceed in a way that makes sense. am trying not to be taken advantage of. thanks. need answers as quickly as possible.

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big whammy to right front of car - ls400 1st gen. car traveling at about 20mp and hit concrete wall at an angle. right wheel is splayed. shop told me they would be able to tell what repairs were needed to get it back into alignment once it was up on the rack but that it prob needed a new tie rod. then after tie rod was replaced, got a call saying that car wouldn't align and that they now need to replace the ball joint, and if it still doesn't align, they would need to replace another (more expensive part). when i asked why they didn't see there was a problem with the ball joint when they first had it up on the rack, was told it was 'inside' the wheel, hard to see, or some such thing.

talked to another mechanic (not at this shop) who told me a ball joint has nothing to do with the alignment, and that an impact like that more commonly damages the steering rack (which is connected to both wheels). the second mechanic said they might replace all the parts on the wheel and the car still may not align if the probl is with the steering rack. was also told the ball joint is visible in plain sight if the car is up on the rack as would be damages to that area (whether tie rods, front strut, ball joint or other) and that there is no reason for the shop to replace parts one by one.

can anyone here confirm that replacing a ball joint is not going to affect or improve alignment? if not, why would this shop tell me they need to replace it for that purpose? is it that they don't know what they are doing? is it true a damaged ball joint is not easily seen/visible?

one person is telling me one thing, and the other person another. if it were you, with this type of damage, what would you have checked out/replaced, and in what order?

i need to proceed in a way that makes sense. am trying not to be taken advantage of. thanks. need answers as quickly as possible.

The 1st gen LS FR tire is held on by 5 points. lower control arm is the bottom point, it comes straight out from the frame, EZ to see if it is bent. It holds the lower ball joint which is the lower pivot point of the hub/spindle. The LCA is held perpendicular to the frame by the front strut bar. It is a diagonal bar that runs from the outer end of the LCA forward to the bumper support area through a series of rubber cushions. The UCA are the hoops that contain the upper ball joint and they attach to the frame around the shock coil. They are at a slight angle back to make the car want to go straight instead of wander to one side by using the weight of the car and the natural tendency of a wheel seeking the path of least resistance (the shopping cart wheel visual) The Tie rod guides the hub/spindle in the right direction. The tie rod has 2 ends, inner (hidden by the accordian covers) and outer. Outer end has the ball joint, inner just screws onto the rack. If you hit a wall at an oblique angle, you would either:

1. Break the tie rod ball joint end outward

2. strip the tie rod off the rack

3. pull the rack out of alignment (likely to an extent because it is held on my clamps, not through bolts)

4. bend the front strut bar or damage its insulators (probable)

5. knock the LCA out of alignment as it pivots on a rubber bushing (held in alignment by the front strut bar)

6. Damaged the hub bearing shaft (bent would cause the wheel to wobble)

All of these damaged to an extent could allow the car to get more out of static alignment than can be corrected by the alignment adjusters built into the suspension. At a minimum you are looking at replacing tie rod end (~$40 part plus labor), adjusting the steering rack(labor only) and maybe a LCA bushing (~$80 plus lots of labor) and or front strut bar bushing (~60 and labor) . Very rough estimates but you may get the feel of what may be expected. IF you go to Lexus to repair, triple all parts costs.

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Hello -- And thanks very much for the quick response. Sorry, a few more questions before I call the shop back:

Inner/outer tie rods and ball joint have been replaced. Waiting to hear if there is still an aligment problem. If there is, would you next look at replacing the "spindle, bearing and seal ($300 new part, plus more labor)? That is what I am being advised.

You mentioned the hub bearing shaft could be bent. Is the shaft part of the recommended repair above? If so, can it be replaced independent of the spindle and bearing?

How do you tell if steering rack alignment is needed? Any idea of labor required? Can mechanics with non-Lexus (general) knowledge do this?

From what you say, they should be able to see if LCA is bent. Presumably the LCA on the opposite side is not bent, so they should be able to make a quick comparison and tell if it is. They haven't said it's bent. If it needs it, any idea of time involved to align this part? Would replacing the bushing be necessary to get it in alignment?

How would I tell if front strut bar insulators are damaged? Is this something they can eyeball or do they need to dismantle anything?

THANKS again for your time. I am clinging to the wreckage (literally), and trying to make sense of what needs to be done to get my car working again. Difficult, since I don't speak 'mechanic'.

big whammy to right front of car - ls400 1st gen. car traveling at about 20mp and hit concrete wall at an angle. right wheel is splayed. shop told me they would be able to tell what repairs were needed to get it back into alignment once it was up on the rack but that it prob needed a new tie rod. then after tie rod was replaced, got a call saying that car wouldn't align and that they now need to replace the ball joint, and if it still doesn't align, they would need to replace another (more expensive part). when i asked why they didn't see there was a problem with the ball joint when they first had it up on the rack, was told it was 'inside' the wheel, hard to see, or some such thing.

talked to another mechanic (not at this shop) who told me a ball joint has nothing to do with the alignment, and that an impact like that more commonly damages the steering rack (which is connected to both wheels). the second mechanic said they might replace all the parts on the wheel and the car still may not align if the probl is with the steering rack. was also told the ball joint is visible in plain sight if the car is up on the rack as would be damages to that area (whether tie rods, front strut, ball joint or other) and that there is no reason for the shop to replace parts one by one.

can anyone here confirm that replacing a ball joint is not going to affect or improve alignment? if not, why would this shop tell me they need to replace it for that purpose? is it that they don't know what they are doing? is it true a damaged ball joint is not easily seen/visible?

one person is telling me one thing, and the other person another. if it were you, with this type of damage, what would you have checked out/replaced, and in what order?

i need to proceed in a way that makes sense. am trying not to be taken advantage of. thanks. need answers as quickly as possible.

The 1st gen LS FR tire is held on by 5 points. lower control arm is the bottom point, it comes straight out from the frame, EZ to see if it is bent. It holds the lower ball joint which is the lower pivot point of the hub/spindle. The LCA is held perpendicular to the frame by the front strut bar. It is a diagonal bar that runs from the outer end of the LCA forward to the bumper support area through a series of rubber cushions. The UCA are the hoops that contain the upper ball joint and they attach to the frame around the shock coil. They are at a slight angle back to make the car want to go straight instead of wander to one side by using the weight of the car and the natural tendency of a wheel seeking the path of least resistance (the shopping cart wheel visual) The Tie rod guides the hub/spindle in the right direction. The tie rod has 2 ends, inner (hidden by the accordian covers) and outer. Outer end has the ball joint, inner just screws onto the rack. If you hit a wall at an oblique angle, you would either:

1. Break the tie rod ball joint end outward

2. strip the tie rod off the rack

3. pull the rack out of alignment (likely to an extent because it is held on my clamps, not through bolts)

4. bend the front strut bar or damage its insulators (probable)

5. knock the LCA out of alignment as it pivots on a rubber bushing (held in alignment by the front strut bar)

6. Damaged the hub bearing shaft (bent would cause the wheel to wobble)

All of these damaged to an extent could allow the car to get more out of static alignment than can be corrected by the alignment adjusters built into the suspension. At a minimum you are looking at replacing tie rod end (~$40 part plus labor), adjusting the steering rack(labor only) and maybe a LCA bushing (~$80 plus lots of labor) and or front strut bar bushing (~60 and labor) . Very rough estimates but you may get the feel of what may be expected. IF you go to Lexus to repair, triple all parts costs.

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P.S. - Great summary. Tx.

The 1st gen LS FR tire is held on by 5 points. lower control arm is the bottom point, it comes straight out from the frame, EZ to see if it is bent. It holds the lower ball joint which is the lower pivot point of the hub/spindle. The LCA is held perpendicular to the frame by the front strut bar. It is a diagonal bar that runs from the outer end of the LCA forward to the bumper support area through a series of rubber cushions. The UCA are the hoops that contain the upper ball joint and they attach to the frame around the shock coil. They are at a slight angle back to make the car want to go straight instead of wander to one side by using the weight of the car and the natural tendency of a wheel seeking the path of least resistance (the shopping cart wheel visual) The Tie rod guides the hub/spindle in the right direction. The tie rod has 2 ends, inner (hidden by the accordian covers) and outer. Outer end has the ball joint, inner just screws onto the rack. If you hit a wall at an oblique angle, you would either:

1. Break the tie rod ball joint end outward

2. strip the tie rod off the rack

3. pull the rack out of alignment (likely to an extent because it is held on my clamps, not through bolts)

4. bend the front strut bar or damage its insulators (probable)

5. knock the LCA out of alignment as it pivots on a rubber bushing (held in alignment by the front strut bar)

6. Damaged the hub bearing shaft (bent would cause the wheel to wobble)

All of these damaged to an extent could allow the car to get more out of static alignment than can be corrected by the alignment adjusters built into the suspension. At a minimum you are looking at replacing tie rod end (~$40 part plus labor), adjusting the steering rack(labor only) and maybe a LCA bushing (~$80 plus lots of labor) and or front strut bar bushing (~60 and labor) . Very rough estimates but you may get the feel of what may be expected. IF you go to Lexus to repair, triple all parts costs.

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