Ball Joint Failures
I am now on my third set of ball joints at 78,000 kms. After investigating numerous automotive forums on the net, it was apparent that ball joint and u-joint problems are a big issue and that Dodge wasn't owning the problem. I wrote to the Canadian division president Reid Bigland and got back a reply from his "Executive Review Specialist" Ms. A. Wilson. Here is what she said:
"Any component can be subject to a defect, and often times, failure is an isolated incident that is not indicative of a part design problem. Chrysler routinely analyses failed parts to develop product improvements in response to data received from dealers and the warranty system. Nonetheless, no evidence currently exists to suggest a quality problem with the upper & lower ball joints of the 2006 Dodge Ram model vehicle. In fact, your concerns have been evaluated by our Technical Support Team, and determined that it is quite uncommon for failure to occur at the current mileage noted, and your documented concerns have been forwarded to our Chrysler Engineers."
I used to be a Service Rep for Outboard Marine Corp. and I can tell you that this reply is a standard boilerplate brush-off. It wouldn't surprise me in the least if it were to turn out to be the case that Ms. Wilson is a lawyer. First, as the experiences of numerous owners shows on the net forums, the problem is common, not isolated. Second, the complaint isn't about quality, but about the unacceptably low durability of the ball joints arising most likely from their design, particularly the inability to lubricate the ball joints during the vehicle's service life. So it may be true in a narrow sense that there is no quality problem but it is false to state that there is no evidence to suggest that there is a problem of any sort whatsoever. And, of course, if there are no problems, why bother to forward my concerns to their engineers? First deny that there is a problem then say that the problem is going to be looked at by their engineers. Are they kidding?
My message to Chrysler? Can you say "Toyota"? This problem is real and widespread and should be admitted to honestly and dealt with. That would be the right thing to do even if it isn't the most profitable thing to do. Here is an idea. How about Chrysler setting up a contact on their web site for people to get in touch directly with their "Technical Support Team"? Perhaps then they could more accurately gather information about what is really going on in the world. Outboard Marine had an entire engineering team devoted solely to problems in the field so that when they were reported, it wasn't the person who designed the part or system who evaluated the complaint, but someone who's job depended on identifying and solving the problem. If Chrysler doesn't have such a team, maybe it is time they formed one.