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Car passed inspection but then ball joint failed. Is mechanic liable?

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Car passed inspection but then ball joint failed. Is mechanic liable?

Old 11-23-2013, 04:41 PM
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Default Car passed inspection but then ball joint failed. Is mechanic liable?

Make: Mercury
Model: Grand Marquis
Year: 2000
Issues/Questions: Ball joint failed dispite passing inspection, should the mechanic be blamed?

Hello, I recently had my Grand Marquis inspected around the middle of August and it passed with flying colors. The mechanics kept telling me how wonderful of a condition my car was in and that they have never seen a Grand Marquis with 180,000 miles on it doing so well. I was very happy and never thought about it again.

The only thing that was acting up at the time was a loud squeaking noise when I went over bumps or was turning the car. It didn't do this all the time and some days were worse than others. However, it had been doing this since last December and since the car just passed and seemed to be doing well I didn't think it was an issue.

Anyways, yesterday I was driving down W. Broad St in the middle of rush hour and I felt a loud clunk and the car stopped in its track. When I looked outside the tire was flat and I thought this was the issue. It took me a long time, but I pulled into a nearby parking lot and got the tire changed. As the car was backing out, another loud clunk occurred and the car stopped again.

My brother and I went to look and the car was leaning dramatically on its side. There was a very large metal piece dragging along the ground. Upon further inspection we saw that it was the lower control arm and the ball joint was completely broken.

Now all the squeaking made perfect sense. However, I am wondering if the mechanic should have seen this and alerted me. I feel like it should have been seen and failed inspection. I wouldn't have minded paying a few hundred for a new ball joint, but now this is going to be a very costly repair and I'm a broke college student so I can't pay for it + I need the car in order to get to class/work. Do I have any recourse when going back to the mechanic to complain? Should they be liable and pay for the repair?

I just don't want to go in there ill prepared and under-educated and get screwed over and have to pay for it all myself.

TL;DR - Grand Marquis passed state inspection back in August. Ball joint failed and lower control arm dragging along the ground. Is the mechanic liable for the repair costs since they did not tell me that the ball joint was breaking down? Do I have any grounds to complain to them and have them repair it for me?

Thanks so much for you time in reading this and any help is appreciated.
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Old 11-23-2013, 05:05 PM
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Default Re: Car passed inspection but then ball joint failed. Is mechanic liable?

quoted so you can't backpedal.

Originally Posted by ksm2962 View Post
Make: Mercury
Model: Grand Marquis
Year: 2000
Issues/Questions: Ball joint failed dispite passing inspection, should the mechanic be blamed?

Hello, I recently had my Grand Marquis inspected around the middle of August and it passed with flying colors. The mechanics kept telling me how wonderful of a condition my car was in and that they have never seen a Grand Marquis with 180,000 miles on it doing so well. I was very happy and never thought about it again.

The only thing that was acting up at the time was a loud squeaking noise when I went over bumps or was turning the car. It didn't do this all the time and some days were worse than others. However, it had been doing this since last December and since the car just passed and seemed to be doing well I didn't think it was an issue.

Anyways, yesterday I was driving down W. Broad St in the middle of rush hour and I felt a loud clunk and the car stopped in its track. When I looked outside the tire was flat and I thought this was the issue. It took me a long time, but I pulled into a nearby parking lot and got the tire changed. As the car was backing out, another loud clunk occurred and the car stopped again.

My brother and I went to look and the car was leaning dramatically on its side. There was a very large metal piece dragging along the ground. Upon further inspection we saw that it was the lower control arm and the ball joint was completely broken.

Now all the squeaking made perfect sense. However, I am wondering if the mechanic should have seen this and alerted me. I feel like it should have been seen and failed inspection. I wouldn't have minded paying a few hundred for a new ball joint, but now this is going to be a very costly repair and I'm a broke college student so I can't pay for it + I need the car in order to get to class/work. Do I have any recourse when going back to the mechanic to complain? Should they be liable and pay for the repair?

I just don't want to go in there ill prepared and under-educated and get screwed over and have to pay for it all myself.

TL;DR - Grand Marquis passed state inspection back in August. Ball joint failed and lower control arm dragging along the ground. Is the mechanic liable for the repair costs since they did not tell me that the ball joint was breaking down? Do I have any grounds to complain to them and have them repair it for me?

Thanks so much for you time in reading this and any help is appreciated.


Honestly, you don't have any argument that you can provide for a free repair. VA state inspection law is very specific about play in the ball joint. Wheel size comes into the inspection when checking for play

VA state inspection law on wheel size regarding ball joint play:

If vehicles measured movement at top or bottor of tire is greater than:

Wheel size:

Less than 17 inches: 1/4 inch
17-18 inches: 3/8 of an inch
over 18 inches: 1/2 inch.

Note: All suspension parts including but not limited to control arms(upper and lower ball joints, radius or torque arms, stabilizer bars, and trailing arms) shall not have any damage or noticeable play when checked with HAND PRESSURE

Now the reason being with hand pressure: You cant use a pry bar to check for upper and lower ball joint play. At the time of the inspection, the inspector checked the ball join play and it did not have enough, or any play in it to reject the vehicle.

You described a squeaking sound that you noticed in the vehicle during the month of August. Why did you not take the vehicle into a repair shop to have them diagnose the concern and suggest a repair?

You are at a loss now and that is what the shop will tell you. You have a choice of going to another automotive repair shop to inspect your vehicle and recommend any repairs and services that are due. Now go ahead and repair the vehicle because you disregarded a concern with it way before the state inspection was due and take it as a lesson learned.
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Old 11-23-2013, 05:14 PM
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Default Re: Car passed inspection but then ball joint failed. Is mechanic liable?

Originally Posted by ksm2962 View Post
Make: Mercury
Model: Grand Marquis
Year: 2000
Issues/Questions: Ball joint failed dispite passing inspection, should the mechanic be blamed?

Hello, I recently had my Grand Marquis inspected around the middle of August and it passed with flying colors. The mechanics kept telling me how wonderful of a condition my car was in and that they have never seen a Grand Marquis with 180,000 miles on it doing so well. I was very happy and never thought about it again.

The only thing that was acting up at the time was a loud squeaking noise when I went over bumps or was turning the car. It didn't do this all the time and some days were worse than others. However, it had been doing this since last December and since the car just passed and seemed to be doing well I didn't think it was an issue.

Anyways, yesterday I was driving down W. Broad St in the middle of rush hour and I felt a loud clunk and the car stopped in its track. When I looked outside the tire was flat and I thought this was the issue. It took me a long time, but I pulled into a nearby parking lot and got the tire changed. As the car was backing out, another loud clunk occurred and the car stopped again.

My brother and I went to look and the car was leaning dramatically on its side. There was a very large metal piece dragging along the ground. Upon further inspection we saw that it was the lower control arm and the ball joint was completely broken.

Now all the squeaking made perfect sense. And it shoul have alerted me. but now this is going to be a very costly repair and I'm a broke college student so I can't pay for it + I need the car in order to get to class/work.
I just don't want to go in there and have to pay for it all myself.

Thanks so much for you time in reading this and any help is appreciated.

I fixed your post for you.
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Old 11-23-2013, 05:15 PM
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Default Re: Car passed inspection but then ball joint failed. Is mechanic liable?

This is true, I did fail to take it back to the mechanic despite hearing a squeaking while turning. The reason I did not take it back is two-fold.

-The first and most applicable is that the squeaking was occurring prior to the inspection, much prior in terms of several months. This lead me to believe that the vehicle's squeaking was not a concern due to the fact that the mechanic passed the vehicle and told me it was doing very well for its age. I would have expected at least a notice that the ball joint wasn't in great shape and that it would be a concern soon.

-The second (which I did not mention in the original post) is that I actually did take it to the same mechanic several months back (10 months maybe?) in regard to the squeaking specifically. At the time the mechanic did indeed point out that the ball joint was to blame but told me it was not an urgent matter and that I did not have to replace it. The reason I didn't mention this originally is because I thought the inspection itself was more relevant due to being two months ago as opposed to being almost a year ago. I did not realize that the only thing checked for ball joints is the play with hand pressure.

That doesn't make any difference does it?

Thanks for your input, I appreciate it.
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Old 11-23-2013, 05:19 PM
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Default Re: Car passed inspection but then ball joint failed. Is mechanic liable?

Originally Posted by JacKaL View Post
I fixed your post for you.
Well yeah, I thought it would be apparent that I didn't want to pay for it all myself. I trusted that the car was in good shape due to the fact that the mechanic had just told me that nothing was in urgent need of repair (in other words: passed inspection). I placed faith in their judgement and it failed me. Whats wrong with that?
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Old 11-23-2013, 05:19 PM
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Default Re: Car passed inspection but then ball joint failed. Is mechanic liable?

This is going to be short and sweet.

1. You have a shit mechanic
2. You have an expensive repair ahead of you.
3. You don't have any chance if getting him to pay for it.

My advice if the control arm is damaged hit a junk yard. Buy a new ball joint have it put in by someone who knows what they are doing, someone who is a professional and can be held liable if it's done incorrectly.
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Old 11-23-2013, 05:26 PM
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Default Re: Car passed inspection but then ball joint failed. Is mechanic liable?

Originally Posted by ksm2962 View Post
This is true, I did fail to take it back to the mechanic despite hearing a squeaking while turning. The reason I did not take it back is two-fold.

-The first and most applicable is that the squeaking was occurring prior to the inspection, much prior in terms of several months. This lead me to believe that the vehicle's squeaking was not a concern due to the fact that the mechanic passed the vehicle and told me it was doing very well for its age. I would have expected at least a notice that the ball joint wasn't in great shape and that it would be a concern soon.

-The second (which I did not mention in the original post) is that I actually did take it to the same mechanic several months back (10 months maybe?) in regard to the squeaking specifically. At the time the mechanic did indeed point out that the ball joint was to blame but told me it was not an urgent matter and that I did not have to replace it. The reason I didn't mention this originally is because I thought the inspection itself was more relevant due to being two months ago as opposed to being almost a year ago. I did not realize that the only thing checked for ball joints is the play with hand pressure.

That doesn't make any difference does it?

Thanks for your input, I appreciate it.

So you took it to a mechanic almost a year ago and verified that the squeaking sound was the ball joint and you chose to not repair the concern that you originally came in for?

To me, it sounds like you need to switch a mechanic and go to another place to have your vehicle serviced. You're out of luck on the inspection issue(getting the damages fixed). Live and learn. Now as far as the issue about a ball joint condition: Yes it is checked for play by hand pressure(VA state law, not a mechanics decision) Get your vehicle repaired, replace the fender which is most likely damaged and switch to a different mechanic. That is all you can do. I know its not the best thing to hear, but its partially your fault as well. If the ball joint noise was a concern, you should have had it repaired then, regardless of what someone said(oh its just noisy, blah blah blah)
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Old 11-23-2013, 05:32 PM
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Default Re: Car passed inspection but then ball joint failed. Is mechanic liable?

Originally Posted by JacKaL View Post
This is going to be short and sweet.

1. You have a shit mechanic
2. You have an expensive repair ahead of you.
3. You don't have any chance if getting him to pay for it.

My advice if the control arm is damaged hit a junk yard. Buy a new ball joint have it put in by someone who knows what they are doing, someone who is a professional and can be held liable if it's done incorrectly.
That's fine with me I just wanted to make sure there was nothing that could be argued with them first. I honestly have no qualms about paying for this as I can put it on a credit card and pay over time. I'm just more so wanting to confirm with others that this was what has to be done. It's going to suck for me but if I have to suck it up then I will. Junk yard seems like a good idea.

So I guess a second question would be: If I went to a junk yard, got a new ball joint and got it repaired by a good mechanic, how much is that going to run me cost-wise? How much is too much if I get a quote from said mechanic?
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Old 11-23-2013, 05:34 PM
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Default Re: Car passed inspection but then ball joint failed. Is mechanic liable?

Originally Posted by JacKaL View Post
This is going to be short and sweet.

1. You have a shit mechanic
2. You have an expensive repair ahead of you.
3. You don't have any chance if getting him to pay for it.

My advice if the control arm is damaged hit a junk yard. Buy a new ball joint have it put in by someone who knows what they are doing, someone who is a professional and can be held liable if it's done incorrectly.

Guess who has two thumbs and can replace a control arm along with a ball joint?



That's right, this guy(me)lol
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Old 11-23-2013, 05:37 PM
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Default Re: Car passed inspection but then ball joint failed. Is mechanic liable?

Originally Posted by ksm2962 View Post
That's fine with me I just wanted to make sure there was nothing that could be argued with them first. I honestly have no qualms about paying for this as I can put it on a credit card and pay over time. I'm just more so wanting to confirm with others that this was what has to be done. It's going to suck for me but if I have to suck it up then I will. Junk yard seems like a good idea.

So I guess a second question would be: If I went to a junk yard, got a new ball joint and got it repaired by a good mechanic, how much is that going to run me cost-wise? How much is too much if I get a quote from said mechanic?

P.M me damnit. Hi unknown, O.P, I'm a mechanic and I would like to fix your vehicle. Of course it will not be for free. Perharps it will involve these green papers with a bunch of different dead guys on it, race car parts, etc... but I'm almost positive that there is a way we can work things out.
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