Bad axle or bad ball joint? Either way, don't drive until it's fixed.

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jan 01, 1993

Dear Tom and Ray:

I have an '82 AMC Eagle which is cosmetically and musically incorrect. Its cosmetic shortcomings are a result of some AMC engineer's twisted idea of style. The musical problem is due to a bent axle. Everytime it turns a corner, there is a loud and rhythmic knocking sound. A mechanic once told me that it wasn't anything to worry about...yet. When will it be? My husband wants this car to last as long as possible. Should I grab him by the throat, assert myself as the leader of our family and demand a better car? Should I learn a few show tunes and sing along with the noise? Should I get it fixed and then pray that nothing else goes wrong? Or should I be writing to Dear Abby?

RAY: Well, of the options you mentioned, I think prayer sounds best.

TOM: You may be driving a death trap, Jen. It?os possible that what you?ore hearing is not a bent axle, but a ball joint that?os getting ready to break. And if that happens, a wheel could fall off, so you?od better pray you?ore driving past a nice, soft corn field or something.

RAY: It could also be a bad constant velocity (CV) joint. In that case, nothing catastrophic will happen when it fails, but it WILL leave you stranded. So you?od better pray you?ore NOT out in the middle of some corn field somewhere.

TOM: The only reason this mechanic told you not to worry about it yet is because he doesn?ot know what?os wrong with it. We tell our customers the same thing when we don?ot have any idea how to fix their cars.

RAY: But you?ove got to find someone who CAN fix it, and you really shouldn?ot drive the car until it?os fixed.

TOM: And after it is fixed, THEN take your husband by the throat, and demand some better wheels.

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