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Q: Ball joint replacement on 1997 Ford Explorer

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How often do ball joints need to be replaced and how can I tell if they're going bad? I have had all four replaced in the last 5 yrs and now am told by one garage that one has 1/4 in. left and needs replacing now, while another garage says the lower ones "have too much play" and need replacing again! Who do I believe?
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If the ball joints need replacement again make sure they use the best quality ball joints available ( Moog or McQuay-Norris ) as the cheaper ball joints save you money but you end up replacing them sooner
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