Ball joints or U joints?

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Old 08-27-19, 05:02 AM
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Ball joints or U joints?

I recently bought a 2001 Jeep Cherokee. I took it to a local shop to have the front driver side wheel studs replaced because one was broken and another one bent. When the mechanic had it taken apart, he wanted to show me that my "universal joints" were bad. I looked at it with the wheel off and he showed me how there is a lot of play in the joint that allows the front wheels to turn.

Isn't that a "ball joint" and not a "universal joint"? U-joints are for the driveshaft, aren't they? I got a quote to have them replaced (about $500 parts/labor) and the printed quote I have clearly says "universal joints".

Did the lady at the front desk giving me prices type in the wrong part? They gave me a price for the parts and said they would need to order them, but I'd rather bring in my own parts and have them do the work. The quote also includes the price of an alignment, which I assume they have to do when they change the ball joints.

Am I right that I should be looking for "ball joints" and not "universal joints"? I don't want to bring it down there and have them fix the wrong part by accident, or buy the wrong parts. I trust the shop - the prices seem fair and they made a good effort to show me what needed to be replaced...I just think something must have got confused by the time I got the quote...
 
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Old 08-27-19, 05:25 AM
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I've always thought that joint was called a CV joint.

Most shops can get parts a little cheaper than you can and if you supply the part they take no responsibility for the it being the right part or warranty on the part.
 
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Old 08-27-19, 05:26 AM
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If you have 4-wheel drive, the parts needed could be front drivers side U- joints and/or ball joints. If no 4-wheel drive, parts needed could be front drivers side ball joints. Replacing ball joints also requires an alignment.
 
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Old 08-27-19, 06:02 AM
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You are correct that universal joints are used on driveshafts, but they are also used on the axles shafts of what I would call "traditional" four wheel drive vehicles, meaning those with actual front and rear axles, such as pickups and "traditional" Jeeps. On these types of vehicles, the universal joint is located in line with the axle shafts, near the wheel. Constant velocity joints are similarly used, inline with the axle shafts(s) on front wheel drive vehicles. But of course technology is constantly changing, a lot of new vehicles today, crossovers for example, with a wide variety of drive options, and I don't know where your Cherokee fits into the mix, but if the joints the shop was referring to were inline with the axle shaft they were either universal or constant velocity joints, and I'm sure they know the difference, so would say they are universal joints. So whether U joints or CV joints they are easy enough to identify because they are an integral part of the actual drivetrain. Ball joints on the other hand are suspension components, and here again, a lot of configurations today and I cannot keep up with even half of them any more. These components are part of the chassis, again, specifically the suspension system, and you can typically see them more-or-less in line with but above and below the wheel hub, but they are not part of the actual drive components. Hope this helps at least a little bit.
 
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Old 08-27-19, 07:26 PM
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Neither one should influence steering wheel. Or, cause "wheels to turn". They are hubcentric.
 
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Old 08-27-19, 07:38 PM
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but they are also used on the axles shafts of what I would call "traditional" four wheel drive vehicles, meaning those with actual front and rear axles, such as pickups and "traditional" Jeeps. On these types of vehicles, the universal joint is located in line with the axle shafts, near the wheel.
I guess that's what it is then. It is a typical 70s style part time 4WD system with solid front axle. Is it correct that they would need to do an alignment when replacing these also?

Most shops can get parts a little cheaper than you can and if you supply the part they take no responsibility for the it being the right part or warranty on the part.
Cherokees have an ENORMOUS amount of aftermarket parts available, especially driveline parts because people put giant tires on them and go beat 'em up. From what I can tell I can buy upgraded aftermarket parts for cheaper than the shop wants - which I assume are just cheap generic non OEM parts or remans. Shops might get parts cheaper, but they don't usually pass that savings to the customer unless they really like you...

Neither one should influence steering wheel. Or, cause "wheels to turn". They are hubcentric.
I'm talking about the joint that allows the front wheels to pivot when you make a turn, the "hinge" so to speak..
 
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Old 08-27-19, 07:57 PM
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U joints, not ball joints or CV axles. That vehicle uses U joints on the front drive axles (left and right) and on the rear drive axle (leading to the differential from the front)..

But when they get into it they may find the ball joints (different parts) are bad too.
 
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