2000 Chevy astro - what ball joint is load bearing

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488
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Ohio
Hello All, I will be doing some service on a 2000 Chevy astro, I am not super familiar with vehicles that have rear wheel drive set ups, and I believe this vehicle may have some bad suspension parts, and I want to check them out while I am changing the oil. I was just curious which ball joint is load bearing, and what is the best way to check them? Also are their any other critical suspension parts to check out? When I say critical I mean something that keeps the wheel from flying off of the van? (My understanding is that these vans are Chevy trucks wtih a van body) Thanks!
 

Nick1994

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13,309
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Phoenix, AZ
With my 96' Chevy truck I jacked it up and stuck a long bar under the tire and lifted up and down to check for play I believe these had the genius GM design to rivet in ball joints. Gotta crack out the drill to drill them out or the grinder to grind them off then use a BFH. Replacement ball joints use 4 bolts in the existing holes where the rivets were.
 
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1,909
Location
Tracy, CA
Some Astro/Safari vans go through idler arms pretty quickly. I purchased both left and right arms prior to having the front end aligned but the shop told me the arms were fine. So I just threw them on the shelf. Not bad for 132k miles. The front stabilizer bar ends tend to crack and break off especially if the van is subject to snow and salt. I don't know if GM still uses lower ball joints that have built in wear indicators. They're not really trucks with van bodies, but they are suspended like trucks. Astro/Safari vans don't have traditional full frames. The front end and engine are bolted to a cradle that in turn bolts to the van body. I guess you can call them semi-unibody.
 
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1,437
Location
Indiana
Originally Posted By: paulo57509
Some Astro/Safari vans go through idler arms pretty quickly.
They do. Most will need to be changed every 30k miles. The upper ball joints will always go first - abnormal tire wear gives it away. It is really easy to pull off the knuckle. Since you have to drop the $80 on an alignment, you might as well replace both ball joints. Oh, you should inspect the UCA bushings, since they are a problem area too.
 
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8,598
Location
Florida
Originally Posted By: Nick1994
With my 96' Chevy truck I jacked it up and stuck a long bar under the tire and lifted up and down to check for play I believe these had the genius GM design to rivet in ball joints. Gotta crack out the drill to drill them out or the grinder to grind them off then use a BFH. Replacement ball joints use 4 bolts in the existing holes where the rivets were.
This is why when you hire a mechanic, it may cost less to replace the whole arm, instead of just a ball joint. This is also why some GM dealers are only able to sell an entire arm instead of a simple ball joint. MOPARs often have this annoying design. I have never seen it on a Toyota or Nissan. As for which ball joints are loaded on a vehicle, that depends on which arm the spring or torsion bar is attached. Typically that is the lower arm. Older SAABs and 1st gen Mustangs are the only 2 cars I can remember where the upper arm is loaded.
 
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429
Location
Cascadia
The ball joint should have a wear indicator on it. Look at the grease fitting and if the bottom of the grease fitting is level with the base of the ball joint, it's in need of replacement. Not sure about the Astro in particular but with s10's at least the lower ball joint is pressed in and the upper is riveted in. Make quick work of the rivets with a cutting wheel and an air hammer with a chisel attachment. Pressing the lowers out just takes muscle and sometimes a cheater bar. Getting the new ones pressed in takes some patience to keep it straight and a little wheel bearing grease to help it slide in What brand ball joints to you plan on using?
 
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