Busted Lower Ball Joint - Anyone been through this nightmare??

Jan 10, 2017
72
43
18
40
Salt Lake City, Utah
#1
Wondering if anyone here has lived through the dreaded Toyota Lower ball joint failure. The problem mostly affect the 01-02 Sequoia's. (There is actually a recall) Toyota realized they were not strong enough and Made them larger for 03- up.

This has happened to me 3 times!
First time - about 213k, pulling out of my driveway
Second time - in the garage, 2 weeks later (same side) defective replacement part.
3rd time, 2 years later - Was going about 20 MPH, hit a bump. (this was the most damaging and the one in the pics)

SO, I learned some valuable lessons. Only Replace with OEM parts, or the Sankei 555® (from Japan). Aftermarket parts from (autozone, napa, O'reilly, etc..) are just not strong enough. I believe it's the Grease bushing, or the greasable area, it's not strong enough for the sequoia weight. After The last failure, I was a more observant, and notices the grease been pushed out of Joint.

So far, the New 555 are holding up great. Although, I still do not trust them, I will be upgrading to the 03-07 spindles once I can find some for decent price

SO, If you have 01-02, you're probably covered under the recall as long as you have not lifted it yet. Otherwise, I STRONGLY suggest changing them out, especially if you're over 170k. They are relatively easy to change, so it well worth the preventative maintenance.

03-07 Owners, I have only heard of few cases where they have failed, so it not unheard of. I think Lifting the truck makes your chances go up substantially.

The whole scenario is an engineering flaw that Toyota fixed starting with the GX-470, 03- up 4runner, 07-up Tundra, and 08-up Sequoia. The flipped the Ball joint upside down, so it cannot separate. I think the reason Toyota went with the failed design is it has worked great on the 86-95 Trucks and 4runners, but they had Torsion Bars, so the tension was on the upper ball joint, not the lower. With the Strut design, all the pressure is pushing the lower Control arm away from the spindle, this only a ball and socket holding it together.


FIrst Break, pulling out of Driveway.. Luckily, there was only Fender damage. IMG_20131105_123221_285.jpg

Second Break - in the garage (as I stopped) 2 weeks later.
IMG_20131209_204632_629.jpg
IMG_20131209_204450_447.jpg
IMG_20131210_145951_649.jpg


Last Break - 2 Years Later
2016-05-16.jpg


Gotta Love parking lot Repairs!!


2016-05-17 (1).jpg

Bent just a bit..
2016-06-09.jpg
 

Attachments

Jim Smola

Moderator
Staff member
Dec 28, 2016
424
155
43
Inman SC
#2
Wondering if anyone here has lived through the dreaded Toyota Lower ball joint failure. The problem mostly affect the 01-02 Sequoia's. (There is actually a recall) Toyota realized they were not strong enough and Made them larger for 03- up.

This has happened to me 3 times!
First time - about 213k, pulling out of my driveway
Second time - in the garage, 2 weeks later (same side) defective replacement part.
3rd time, 2 years later - Was going about 20 MPH, hit a bump. (this was the most damaging and the one in the pics)

SO, I learned some valuable lessons. Only Replace with OEM parts, or the Sankei 555® (from Japan). Aftermarket parts from (autozone, napa, O'reilly, etc..) are just not strong enough. I believe it's the Grease bushing, or the greasable area, it's not strong enough for the sequoia weight. After The last failure, I was a more observant, and notices the grease been pushed out of Joint.

So far, the New 555 are holding up great. Although, I still do not trust them, I will be upgrading to the 03-07 spindles once I can find some for decent price

SO, If you have 01-02, you're probably covered under the recall as long as you have not lifted it yet. Otherwise, I STRONGLY suggest changing them out, especially if you're over 170k. They are relatively easy to change, so it well worth the preventative maintenance.

03-07 Owners, I have only heard of few cases where they have failed, so it not unheard of. I think Lifting the truck makes your chances go up substantially.

The whole scenario is an engineering flaw that Toyota fixed starting with the GX-470, 03- up 4runner, 07-up Tundra, and 08-up Sequoia. The flipped the Ball joint upside down, so it cannot separate. I think the reason Toyota went with the failed design is it has worked great on the 86-95 Trucks and 4runners, but they had Torsion Bars, so the tension was on the upper ball joint, not the lower. With the Strut design, all the pressure is pushing the lower Control arm away from the spindle, this only a ball and socket holding it together.


FIrst Break, pulling out of Driveway.. Luckily, there was only Fender damage. View attachment 372

Second Break - in the garage (as I stopped) 2 weeks later.
View attachment 373
View attachment 374
View attachment 375


Last Break - 2 Years Later
View attachment 367


Gotta Love parking lot Repairs!!


View attachment 368

Bent just a bit..
View attachment 371
Well this is seriously scary.
 
Likes: NomadSequoia
Jan 3, 2017
17
14
3
29
#3
Thanks for posting this. In my 04 they were recalled and I assume upgraded to the newer model sized ones.

Now I've an 02 I know they were also replaced under factory warranty, just need to ask when (forgot the date..) So I am hoping these ones were done more recently then not .

FYI, you can call any Toyota dealer and ask the service department to run your vin for recalls , found that helpful when purchasing this last one.

Thanks for posting this, and I'm glad the THREE times it crapped out there wasn't too much damage
 
Likes: Jim Smola
Jan 10, 2017
72
43
18
40
Salt Lake City, Utah
#4
Yes, I would definitely check them. Especially of you plan on lifting it. (seems to be a correlation here due to more pressure on the lower BJ)

The 04 already had the upgraded design, but there was a manufacturer defect causing premature wear. So, the 01-02 having the same defect, but a smaller BJ, just makes them that much more prone to failure. Only way to upgrade to larger size is by changing the entire hub/spindle from 03-up tundra/Seqoiua, as the bolt pattern is a wider square, and uses 10mm bolts, instead of 8 (or maybe is 10,12) can't remember.. juts basically one size up. Your can easily tell the difference by looking at the bolts. If they are 17mm heads, they are the newer style.
 
Jan 3, 2017
17
14
3
29
#5
So looks like I have 14mm heads, likely indicating the older ones still. I'll contact Toyota tomorrow to see exactly what was replaced & date. Regardless I'll want to replace them as you mentioned.
 
Apr 3, 2017
30
24
8
38
Live in KC, play in AR
#9
Yeah- so those you said are 17mm bolts? I called the Toyota dealer here and looks like 04's and up had the redesigned LCA and ball joint pattern (square). So it sounds like there are actually 3 different designs- 01-02 had the weakest ball. 03 had a revised ball from the 01's and 02's (but same 14mm bolts- 01's and 02's were recalled to get 03 ball joints at that time). Then in 04 they redesigned the lower control arm and spindle- bigger bolts with "square" design on the BJ bracket. I'm not sure if they made the ball bigger again in 04 or it was just the bigger bolts and carrier. In any case, I think I'll upgrade to an 04+ LCA and spindle when I do it.

Just as a side note- looking through a bunch of lower ball joint threads on 4Runner, Tacoma and Tundra forums, it sounds like people have had just as many issues with the Sankei joints as the parts store stuff (moog, delco, dorman, etc). I'm just going to bite the bullet and pay up for the OEM's.
 
Last edited:
Likes: Jim Smola

Jim Smola

Moderator
Staff member
Dec 28, 2016
424
155
43
Inman SC
#10
Yeah- so those you said are 17mm bolts? I called the Toyota dealer here and looks like 04's and up had the redesigned LCA and ball joint pattern (square). So it sounds like there are actually 3 different designs- 01-02 had the weakest ball. 03 had a revised ball from the 01's and 02's (but same 14mm bolts- 01's and 02's were recalled to get 03 ball joints at that time). Then in 04 they redesigned the lower control arm and spindle- bigger bolts with "square" design on the BJ bracket. I'm not sure if they made the ball bigger again in 04 or it was just the bigger bolts and carrier. In any case, I think I'll upgrade to an 04+ LCA and spindle when I do it.

Just as a side note- looking through a bunch of lower ball joint threads on 4Runner, Tacoma and Tundra forums, it sounds like people have had just as many issues with the Sankei joints as the parts store stuff (moog, delco, dorman, etc). I'm just going to bite the bullet and pay up for the OEM's.
Prob more issues b/c of neglect and not getting them replaced soon enough??
 
Jan 10, 2017
72
43
18
40
Salt Lake City, Utah
#11
Yeah- so those you said are 17mm bolts? I called the Toyota dealer here and looks like 04's and up had the redesigned LCA and ball joint pattern (square). So it sounds like there are actually 3 different designs- 01-02 had the weakest ball. 03 had a revised ball from the 01's and 02's (but same 14mm bolts- 01's and 02's were recalled to get 03 ball joints at that time). Then in 04 they redesigned the lower control arm and spindle- bigger bolts with "square" design on the BJ bracket. I'm not sure if they made the ball bigger again in 04 or it was just the bigger bolts and carrier. In any case, I think I'll upgrade to an 04+ LCA and spindle when I do it.

Just as a side note- looking through a bunch of lower ball joint threads on 4Runner, Tacoma and Tundra forums, it sounds like people have had just as many issues with the Sankei joints as the parts store stuff (moog, delco, dorman, etc). I'm just going to bite the bullet and pay up for the OEM's.
They are 17mm heads, (not sure of the actual bolt diameter) and yes they have a Square pattern. There was a redesign for the recall, but I cannot see a difference, with either of them torn apart. Might have been redesigned with a Grease fitting possibly, or tighter ball socket. As for the sankei. From my sources, they actually makes the OEM joints (reliable source, but not verified) In my opinion, they are all bound for failure because it was on engineering flaw on Toyota's part. They Obviously realized this and changed the design in 03, (starting with new chassis, LX470, and 4runner) followed by Tacoma, tundra, and sequoia as the new Generations were released.

In my opinion

Best Practice it to check and/or replace them regularly. I plan on changing my Sankei every 2 years, just to be certain, but I am also kinda hard on my Sequoia (meaning it sees a LOT of trail time). I just don't want to go through it EVER again, especially with my new Fenders and paint :)

Would like to eventually make conversion kit to the newer style. perhaps with new lower arms, and a reversed Mount. I have seen on guy who cut up an old Ball joint, and welded in Johnny joint, then used a large bolt.

Prob more issues b/c of neglect and not getting them replaced soon enough??
Yes, this is True - Although, if engineered properly, the load would NOT be constantly trying to separate the control arm from the Spindle. If you look at the new Design, its almost impossible for them to separate. (they basically flipped the ball joint) as you can see, if the ball joint wears and fails, it will still remain connected to the hub.

New Design


Revised Design

Early Design
 

Jim Smola

Moderator
Staff member
Dec 28, 2016
424
155
43
Inman SC
#12
They are 17mm heads, (not sure of the actual bolt diameter) and yes they have a Square pattern. There was a redesign for the recall, but I cannot see a difference, with either of them torn apart. Might have been redesigned with a Grease fitting possibly, or tighter ball socket. As for the sankei. From my sources, they actually makes the OEM joints (reliable source, but not verified) In my opinion, they are all bound for failure because it was on engineering flaw on Toyota's part. They Obviously realized this and changed the design in 03, (starting with new chassis, LX470, and 4runner) followed by Tacoma, tundra, and sequoia as the new Generations were released.

In my opinion

Best Practice it to check and/or replace them regularly. I plan on changing my Sankei every 2 years, just to be certain, but I am also kinda hard on my Sequoia (meaning it sees a LOT of trail time). I just don't want to go through it EVER again, especially with my new Fenders and paint :)

Would like to eventually make conversion kit to the newer style. perhaps with new lower arms, and a reversed Mount. I have seen on guy who cut up an old Ball joint, and welded in Johnny joint, then used a large bolt.


Yes, this is True - Although, if engineered properly, the load would NOT be constantly trying to separate the control arm from the Spindle. If you look at the new Design, its almost impossible for them to separate. (they basically flipped the ball joint) as you can see, if the ball joint wears and fails, it will still remain connected to the hub.

New Design


Revised Design

Early Design
Looks like mine match up to the revised design.
 
Apr 3, 2017
30
24
8
38
Live in KC, play in AR
#13
Yeah, I don't know why Toyota ever designed a pull-apart ball joint. It's carrying a huge load and doing all the steering, crazy. On the Tacoma and 3rd gen 4Runner, maybe... But the Tundra and Sequoia, that's a lot of weight. Anyhow, I do 100% agree that regular maintenance and just changing it more often will likely avoid a dreaded total failure. I've also heard the same thing that Sankei is a factory supplier, or was at one point. Hard to say since mfgs change parts and suppliers so often.

I did a little more research today and to change the LCA's and spindles to factory 04+ would be outrageously expensive. At $1,200+ I'd rather just figure out an alternative setup as you suggest Scott. I also found a shop in CA called Solo Motorsports that makes a spindle with a 1" lower uniball and heim joint for the steering. Could be a nice alternative :)
lowerheim.jpg
 
Last edited:
Likes: Jim Smola

Jim Smola

Moderator
Staff member
Dec 28, 2016
424
155
43
Inman SC
#14
Yeah, I don't know why Toyota ever designed a pull-apart ball joint. It's carrying a huge load and doing all the steering, crazy. On the Tacoma and 3rd gen 4Runner, maybe... But the Tundra and Sequoia, that's a lot of weight. Anyhow, I do 100% agree that regular maintenance and just changing it more often will likely avoid a dreaded total failure. I've also heard the same thing that Sankei is a factory supplier, or was at one point. Hard to say since mfgs change parts and suppliers so often.

I did a little more research today and to change the LCA's and spindles to factory 04+ would be outrageously expensive. At $1,200+ I'd rather just figure out an alternative setup as you suggest Scott. I also found a shop in CA called Solo Motorsports that makes a spindle with a 1" lower uniball and heim joint for the steering. Could be a nice alternative :)
View attachment 502
Nice find!!!!
 
Jan 10, 2017
72
43
18
40
Salt Lake City, Utah
#15
Yeah, I don't know why Toyota ever designed a pull-apart ball joint. It's carrying a huge load and doing all the steering, crazy. On the Tacoma and 3rd gen 4Runner, maybe... But the Tundra and Sequoia, that's a lot of weight. Anyhow, I do 100% agree that regular maintenance and just changing it more often will likely avoid a dreaded total failure. I've also heard the same thing that Sankei is a factory supplier, or was at one point. Hard to say since mfgs change parts and suppliers so often.

I did a little more research today and to change the LCA's and spindles to factory 04+ would be outrageously expensive. At $1,200+ I'd rather just figure out an alternative setup as you suggest Scott. I also found a shop in CA called Solo Motorsports that makes a spindle with a 1" lower uniball and heim joint for the steering. Could be a nice alternative :)
View attachment 502
I have seen the solo kits, and they are Awesome!! But I think you're around $2500 all said and done, which really isn't too bad for a super solid solution... but hard to swallow at the same time. I can think of a whole bunch of other things I rather spend $2500 on. :)

I have had thoughts of a Bolt on bracket. It would not only protect the lower Nut, but also prevent from complete separation, sort of a cradle type bracket??? Need to get back into autocad and draw something up.. it's been years since I used CAD, need to brush up anyway.
 
Likes: Jim Smola

Jim Smola

Moderator
Staff member
Dec 28, 2016
424
155
43
Inman SC
#16
I have seen the solo kits, and they are Awesome!! But I think you're around $2500 all said and done, which really isn't too bad for a super solid solution... but hard to swallow at the same time. I can think of a whole bunch of other things I rather spend $2500 on. :)

I have had thoughts of a Bolt on bracket. It would not only protect the lower Nut, but also prevent from complete separation, sort of a cradle type bracket??? Need to get back into autocad and draw something up.. it's been years since I used CAD, need to brush up anyway.
I like the way that you think.
 
Likes: Scott Jackson