Q: My 2010 Chevy pickup truck has been a perfect truck for almost 12 years now. The last time it went in for tires and an oil change I was told it was going to need ball joints, and the ball joints are part of the control arms. Due to this design, I need to replace the control arms at a cost of nearly $300 per side, plus labor. Is this reasonable in a 2010 truck?
A: At 12 years old, worn steering components are always a possibility.
There are two upper and two lower ball joints. Typically, the lower ball joints are the most likely to need replacement, since they carry the majority of the weight of the truck. Although the ball joints are locked in place to the lower control arm, they can be replaced.
General Motors does sell the ball joints separately at about $95 each, and I have seen quality aftermarket ball joints for as little as $25 each.
The ball joints are pressed in and out of the control arms using a special tool. If the control arms and bushing are in good condition, then only the ball joints need replacement.
Q: I read your column every week, and as a 75-year-old DIYer I find it really keeps guys like me up to date on all of the many changes in cars today.
I recently bought a gallon of Motorcraft yellow concentrated antifreeze from a Ford dealer for my 2018 Ford Escape. I plan to use it for topping off the radiator.
The original color of the antifreeze is orange, the container says yellow and when I went to mix it with water it came out light green.
I questioned the guy at the parts counter about the color, and he said this is the replacement antifreeze, and it’s OK to mix it with the antifreeze in your car.
I was wondering if you had heard anything about this change, and is it OK to use for topping off?
A: Once upon a time, there was only one kind of antifreeze, and it was green.
When vehicles with aluminum engines became popular, there was red antifreeze.
Now there are at least eight different colors and mixtures of engine coolant.
The orange Ford coolant was replaced with a yellow coolant that is a hybrid organic acid technology formulation (HOAT). This coolant has an extremely long life of up to 10 years and 200,000 miles.
The Yellow HOAT is backwards-compatible with the orange OAT coolant and can be used for topping off the cooling system.
Q: I have never been completely happy with the 4-cylinder engine in my 2015 Honda CR-V. It may be because my previous car was a V-6 powered Toyota Camry.
I prefer Toyota products and was looking at the RAV4, but it now is only being made with the 4-cylinder engine. The salespeople say you can get more power from the engine than some 6-cylinder engines, but I am not sure.
The Toyota Highlander is too big for me. I looked at the Lexus, but it is kind of pricey. I like the idea of being up high and not having to travel in the breakdown lane for a half mile before the car has enough power to merge into traffic.
I liked the RAV4 but I’m afraid that once I buy it I’ll want more power for merging and passing. Are there other options?
A: The Toyota RAV4 — with a bit more than 200 horsepower — seemed quite capable to me, but you do have options.
The RAV4 is available in hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions. The hybrid has a total of 219 horsepower and a generous amount of torque. The plug-in version of the RAV4 referred to as the RAV4 Prime has a combined gasoline engine and electric motor output of a bit more than 300 horsepower.
With about a 40-mile all-electric range, the RAV4 Prime is the most powerful, most fuel efficient and most expensive of the RAV4 models.
John Paul is the AAA Northeast Car Doctor. He has more than 40 years of experience in the automobile industry and is an ASE-Certified Master Technician. Write to John Paul, The Car Doctor, at 110 Royal Little Drive, Providence, RI 02904. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org and put “Car Doctor” in the subject field. Follow him on Twitter @johnfpaul or on Facebook.
This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: Must I replace control arms with ball joints on 2010 truck?