Torn ball joint boots, tie rod boots, stabilizer link boots, but no noises or vibrations, should I care?

Joined
Jan 11, 2016
Messages
47
Location
cbland
I'm planning to reboot the inner CV axle on my Mazda 3, which is torn and clearly leaking grease. In the process of examining that, I noticed that the boots are torn on a lot of the other front end suspension parts (it's a 2006, with 175K). The boots on the ball joints of the lower control arms on both sides are torn. The boot on the tire rod end is torn on one side. And the boots on the stabilizer links are torn. I do not see any grease leaking from those boots.

However, I have no vibrations in the steering wheel. There are no noises from the front suspension. The car drives great and tracks a straight line. I did the test wiggling the tires holding them at 3 and 9 o'clock and at 12 and 6 o'clock and the wheels don't budge at all. With the car on jacks, I tried lifting the front tires with a pry bar, to see if there was any movement/looseness in the ball joints and there was nothing. I can't get the links to move at all and they are super solid, if I grab them and try to move them. And, I recently had a mechanic do a "safety" inspection on the car, where he mentioned the torn CV boot, but none of these other things.

So, I'm wondering, should I replace the control arms, tie rod ends, and stabilizer links? Or should I wait until there are noises, they are loose, or there are move obvious and typical signs that they're worn out. I'm not really made of money and I have a bunch of other things I'm fixing on the car right now, so, all things being equal, I'd rather wait.
 
Joined
Apr 27, 2010
Messages
13,602
Location
Suburban Washington DC
If you have to take those parts with torn boots off to get to what you're fixing, makes sense to replace them now. If you don't, and they feel tight, then no real rush. Shop around for the best deal on parts.
 

cb474

Thread starter
Joined
Jan 11, 2016
Messages
47
Location
cbland
Thanks for the thoughts. I have to detach the ball joint on the lower control arm from the knuckle, to get the axle out for rebooting it, but not unbolt the other end of it. I guess I could just do one front lower control arm now and the other late, but that doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

I'm planning to go OEM on the parts, when I do them. For front end parts it seems like a good idea. And from what I've read here about ball joints from Mevotech and Moog, it doesn't sound like they're so great. I'm figuring, I got 175K on the OEM parts (perhaps more yet), I probably should be happy to replace them with OEM parts.
 
Joined
Apr 27, 2012
Messages
13,462
Location
MA
Thanks for the suggestions. Yeah, I got the OEM boot, even though it cost an absurd $70.
Should have gotten a Mercedes. The boot, bolt, and clamps come in a kit and it was about $40.

As for those other items, you could wait if you are diying it. Otherwise it would cost you more in labor to do it again as some of that stuff has to come apart to replace the boot anyway.
 
Last edited:

cb474

Thread starter
Joined
Jan 11, 2016
Messages
47
Location
cbland
Yeah, I don't know what is up with Mazda and their part costs. Some of them are insane. I guess there just aren't that many Mazdas on the road. Maybe since there are more Mercedes, they make a lot more of those parts and so there is more of an economy of scale? The Mazda boot did come with the clamps and the grease and a snap ring.

I'm going to DIYing these repairs, so I don't mind that much if I have to detach the ball joint from the knuckle a second time, to replace the lower control arm later.

Interestingly, it looks like the Sankei tie rod ends are just as expensive as OEM and the links are much less. Any reason to prefer them over OEM?
 
Joined
Apr 27, 2012
Messages
13,462
Location
MA
Yeah, I don't know what is up with Mazda and their part costs. Some of them are insane. I guess there just aren't that many Mazdas on the road. Maybe since there are more Mercedes, they make a lot more of those parts and so there is more of an economy of scale? The Mazda boot did come with the clamps and the grease and a snap ring.

I'm going to DIYing these repairs, so I don't mind that much if I have to detach the ball joint from the knuckle a second time, to replace the lower control arm later.

Interestingly, it looks like the Sankei tie rod ends are just as expensive as OEM and the links are much less. Any reason to prefer them over OEM?
With that kind of mileage I wouldn't worry too much about paying oem prices. I'd be fine with parts from Rockauto, usually there's some brand with a lifetime warranty so I don't think it's a big deal if you can DIY it, it's worth it to save a few bucks especially if it won't cost you that much to do it again. Your oem parts probably don't have more than a 2 year warranty anyway. With that kind of mileage, I wouldn't even worry that much about a lifetime warranty.
 

cb474

Thread starter
Joined
Jan 11, 2016
Messages
47
Location
cbland
I guess with the non-OEM parts, I've read about low control arms not fitting correctly sometimes. I don't want to have to send things back to Rockauto. And I've read about some parts, like ball joints, failing after a year. Even if they're under warranty, I don't want to keep doing the same repair every year. Also, from a safety angle, since they're front end parts, it seems like perhaps OEM is better. The car has a lot of miles, but I've driving it gently (I still have the original clutch in it), it runs great, and I'm hoping to keep it going for a while.
 
Joined
Feb 6, 2021
Messages
1,023
Location
Massachusetts
Once the boots go bad, it's the beginning of the end for those parts. I'm not a fan of re-booting, by the time the boot is torn and it gets noticed, the part is likely worn enough to justify replacement.
 

cb474

Thread starter
Joined
Jan 11, 2016
Messages
47
Location
cbland
Once the boots go bad, it's the beginning of the end for those parts. I'm not a fan of re-booting, by the time the boot is torn and it gets noticed, the part is likely worn enough to justify replacement.
The thing is on most cars (except the European cars) you can't get a new OEM CV axle. You definitely can't for the Mazda. And I was reading around a lot on the forum here and the general consensus seems to be that the rebuilt and aftermarket CV axles are poor quality and often fail within a year (unless you just get lucky). So people in the forum here mostly seem to suggest hanging onto the OEM axle as long as you can. And in my case, the CV joint is showing none of the typical signs of failure, no clicking noises. I'm not hard on my car, so I don't see why I should replace it with an inferior part. I think it could still go quite a while.

I could get the inner CV joint itself from Mazda for $217 and then I'd have to detach it from the axle shaft and pop on the new one and the other end will still have the old CV joint. If I wanted to buy both joints and the shaft, it would be well over $500. So a $70 boot and seeing how long I can go doesn't seem so bad in comparison. In the end, it seems like there are no great options here and rebooting is the least bad one.
 
Joined
Apr 27, 2012
Messages
13,462
Location
MA
Once the boots go bad, it's the beginning of the end for those parts. I'm not a fan of re-booting, by the time the boot is torn and it gets noticed, the part is likely worn enough to justify replacement.
Depends on the car and when you reboot it. Mercedes axles are about 1k for OEM so it's cheaper to reboot it at $40 for a kit rather than 1k for OEM. I tried a $100 aftermarket axle from Rockauto and it caused a vibration so I bought the kit and rebooted the old axle which I kept. It's still fine a couple years later. When it was taken apart to reboot it, it actually looked fine and wasn't worn out.
 
Joined
Jan 29, 2012
Messages
681
Location
Canada
Re-booting the OE joint with an OE thermoplastic boot is the best way. Aftermarket joints always use neoprene boots which never last more than a few years. It's kind of frustrating actually.
 
Joined
Mar 20, 2008
Messages
14,351
Location
USA
The thing is on most cars (except the European cars) you can't get a new OEM CV axle. You definitely can't for the Mazda. And I was reading around a lot on the forum here and the general consensus seems to be that the rebuilt and aftermarket CV axles are poor quality and often fail within a year (unless you just get lucky). So people in the forum here mostly seem to suggest hanging onto the OEM axle as long as you can. And in my case, the CV joint is showing none of the typical signs of failure, no clicking noises. I'm not hard on my car, so I don't see why I should replace it with an inferior part. I think it could still go quite a while.

I could get the inner CV joint itself from Mazda for $217 and then I'd have to detach it from the axle shaft and pop on the new one and the other end will still have the old CV joint. If I wanted to buy both joints and the shaft, it would be well over $500. So a $70 boot and seeing how long I can go doesn't seem so bad in comparison. In the end, it seems like there are no great options here and rebooting is the least bad one.

Ford and GM are good about selling oem new CV axles for most of their cars.
 
Joined
Feb 7, 2013
Messages
763
Location
st louis, mo
You may be able to replace just the boots on your control arms and tie rod ends. I would wipe the joint clean and add fresh grease. I tore a boot with a pickle fork on a Honda control arm and replaced the boot with the Honda part.

Stabilizer links are cheap (and don't affect alignment) so it doesn't seem worth it.


As far as booting the CV axle -- which wasn't the OP's original question -- I have done this successfully on a couple of cars where the torn boot was the only symptom.
 

cb474

Thread starter
Joined
Jan 11, 2016
Messages
47
Location
cbland
You may be able to replace just the boots on your control arms and tie rod ends. I would wipe the joint clean and add fresh grease. I tore a boot with a pickle fork on a Honda control arm and replaced the boot with the Honda part.

Stabilizer links are cheap (and don't affect alignment) so it doesn't seem worth it.


As far as booting the CV axle -- which wasn't the OP's original question -- I have done this successfully on a couple of cars where the torn boot was the only symptom.
I think I looked for the boots for the ball joints on the control arms, but Mazda didn't sell them. But I'll check again. I'm also kind of figuring that if the boot on the ball joint tore and is dried out, the bushings on the other end of the control arms (which are hard to really inspect) are probably pretty worn out also, so when I deal with this I may as well replace the whole control arm.
 
Joined
Feb 7, 2013
Messages
763
Location
st louis, mo
I think I looked for the boots for the ball joints on the control arms, but Mazda didn't sell them. But I'll check again. I'm also kind of figuring that if the boot on the ball joint tore and is dried out, the bushings on the other end of the control arms (which are hard to really inspect) are probably pretty worn out also, so when I deal with this I may as well replace the whole control arm.

My Volvo uses a really similar control arm and the bushings on the aft end were worn out and failed inspection at around 220k miles.
 

cb474

Thread starter
Joined
Jan 11, 2016
Messages
47
Location
cbland
My Volvo uses a really similar control arm and the bushings on the aft end were worn out and failed inspection at around 220k miles.
Thanks. I don't know what kind of Volvo you have, but I think the V40 of that era was built on the same platform as the Mazda3 and also maybe the Ford Focus. So they share and/or have a lot of similar parts.
 
Top