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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
... A SMART Man Learns From the Mistakes of Others!

Hopefully you're all smart here, and will learn from the wisdom I just gained through hard-fought experience (and stupidity). :)

This isn't strictly CRX-related, but since it's Honda-related, and it's apocryphal, I thought I'd share this little piece of "D'OH!" with you.

A few weeks ago, I did a bunch of suspension work on my daily-driver, a 1991 Accord station wagon. I'd damaged the front suspension on a particularly vicious pothole a while back, and I'd finally gathered together all the pieces I needed to replace. I replaced the front lower crossmember, the little under-engine "cradle" piece that ties the front crossmember to the rear one, and both front lower control arms. The control arms I was just replacing because I was sick of the noise and roughness of the urethane bushings I'd put in them a few years back, not because they were damaged. Cast control arms are really tough, usually stronger than the structure they're bolted to. :)

Anyway, all went smoothly, until I went to put the Cotter pins back in the lower balljoints. I have a pack of assorted Cotter pins; I know I have it. I bought it, and it's in my garage. Somewhere, along with Amelia Earhart and Jimmy Hoffa, and my one missing sock. To make a long story even longer, I couldn't find those damn Cotter pins anywhere, so I decided I'd just re-use the old ones "for now". What's the worst that could happen, right?

That weekend, I drove the car 550 miles round-trip to see my folks on Mother's Day. Everything went fine. I drove the car to work and back on Monday, and everything was fine. Tuesday morning, I got in the car to go to work, backed out of the driveway, and heard a "clunk". "What the...?" I wondered to myself. Had I hit something? I looked around, but couldn't see anything I might have run over (no cats, dogs, or small children or bicycles lying in my driveway). I shrugged, put 'er in first gear, and started to let out the clutch, when I heard - and FELT - a "clunk-WHUMP!", and the front right corner of the car dropped to the ground. At that point, I *knew* what had happened, or at least had a good idea: my wheel had just fallen off!

I got out, looked under the car, and sure enough, the suspension was all apart at the lower balljoint on that side. What's more, the force of the wheel's sudden independence had also torn the passenger-side axle in half at the inner CV joint, so the car wasn't going anywhere under its own power (curse you, open differential!). I was able to get my floor jack under the car and get it rolled more or less back up into my driveway, and I grabbed the next car in line (Ruby, my '91 CRX DX) and hied my arse to work, a mere 20 minutes late.

I got everything back together over the weekend. I found the castle-nut from the balljoint lying in the road. The balljoint was toast - the joint itself was fine, but the threads were chewed up, as was the nut. The "used" Cotter pin was nowhere to be found. Apparently, it had broken off, fallen out, and at that point it was just a matter of time before the nut worked itself loose.

The lesson I learned is easy: NEVER RE-USE A $0.05 COTTER PIN! Well, that and "Clunk is never a good sound from your suspension." :)

I had a new balljoint pressed in, put a new nut on it, and put new Cotter pins in both sides, on the upper balljoints, lower balljoints, and the tie-rod balljoints. Hey, even if the uppers and the tie-rods hadn't been apart, why tempt fate, eh? The axle was no big deal; I had a spare in the garage (courtesy of a parted-out Accord that went to the crusher a while back)

All is now well again with the Wagon-O-Doom (or "W'Agony" as she's usually known around my house), but my, how she tries me. Or rather, how my own stupidity tries me sometimes. All in all, I think about how bad this COULD have been (losing a wheel on the highway at 80mph or so), and I feel pretty darn lucky. Of all the places for this to happen, my driveway is probably the BEST I could have hoped for.

So that's my story. Don't let it be yours. Use new Cotter pins every time!

Mike
 

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Ok now I'm scared to death, almost every one of my cars probly has reused ones in them. The boxes of new cotter pins in my garage are all too big (there from my GM car days) . And I knew there's always some thing I'm forgetting to get at the parts store when I'm there.
*puts new cotter pins on grocery list, & runs outside with flashlight to see if there at least still in there where there supposed to be*
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Richrowa said:
Kwicko said:
This isn't strictly CRX-related, but since it's Honda-related, and it's apocryphal, I thought I'd share this little piece of "D'OH!" with you.
Pronunciation: -f&l
Function: adjective
1 : of doubtful authenticity : SPURIOUS

Huh?
Whoopsie. What the hell WAS the word I was thinking of? Anecdotal... timely... apropos... Something along the lines of *not* spurious or fictitious! Sorry 'bout that.
 

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i have never had a used cotter pin come out on me i always reuse them with out a problem as long as there installed properly.

but i feel your pain i didnt have a pin in my ball joint at all and the nut came off and the ball joint poped out on me when i red lined second and hit third gear around a corner. yea 60 mph around a corner it was scary.

on a side note i bought getcaught deads car off of him he had a motor put in it last fall and eric drove it all the way up from dc to pittsburgh to deliever it to me. i looked at it today and notices there were no cotter pins anywhere on the suspension and the nut on the passanger side tie rod was almost off and the wheel had a bunch of play... thank god that nut didnt come off of him when he was driving it up to me ...

scarponze
 

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Mike I had the exact thing happen to me, while driving someone else's car on and autox course. He was riding along, and I said "sounds like we picke up a cone" then the nose of the car started dragging the ground.

He got out and nearly cried at what he saw...but it was just the ball joint and cv axle that were in need of replacement. :lol:
 

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Mike always makes such great posts. They're long but fun to read. Very visual. As I have seen this Accord, I can only imagine the look on your face standing next to it looking at your wheel. :lol:
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Charles said:
Mike always makes such great posts. They're long but fun to read. Very visual. As I have seen this Accord, I can only imagine the look on your face standing next to it looking at your wheel. :lol:
Yeah. Let's just say it wasn't the proud "I made this" look. More like the "Omigod, what the *(#$% did I just do?!" look.

For the record, I've used and reused Cotter pins many times. The ones that were in the car were almost certainly ones that I re-used when I had the suspension out before this last time. Never had one fail before, so wasn't expecting it this time. That particular pin must've been in pretty bad shape when I put it back in (as in, already about to break where it's supposed to just bend), but I just didn't pay any attention to it. So here's how I learned.

I was a bit surprised to find the castle-nut lying in the road, pretty much right under where the car flopped to a stop. I'd always assumed that even without the nut, the car would go a ways before anything bad happened. Seems that's not the case, at least with a balljoint that's been so recently knocked loose from the lower control arm.

Mike
 

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Kwicko said:
I'd always assumed that even without the nut, the car would go a ways before anything bad happened. Seems that's not the case, at least with a balljoint that's been so recently knocked loose from the lower control arm.
Yeah, it seems that way when you jack the car up - the weight of the wheel/hub/spindle/brakes sits on top of the lower control arm. But consider that the shock/spring is also bolted to the lower control arm... What sits on the other end of the shock/spring? The car body. That means that under normal conditions (not jacked up), the car's weight is pressing down on the lower control arm, and the ground is balancing that by pushing back up through the spindle. Since the lower ball joint connects the lower control arm and spindle... well...
 

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bobski said:
Yeah, it seems that way when you jack the car up - the weight of the wheel/hub/spindle/brakes sits on top of the lower control arm. But consider that the shock/spring is also bolted to the lower control arm... What sits on the other end of the shock/spring? The car body. That means that under normal conditions (not jacked up), the car's weight is pressing down on the lower control arm, and the ground is balancing that by pushing back up through the spindle. Since the lower ball joint connects the lower control arm and spindle... well...
That sounds like physics to me. :lol:
 

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shorte said:
So did we just find a new easy way to remove the lower control arm from the balljoint without a BFH or a fork? :p
Yes, but that also includes a broken CV joint because with the weight of the car pushing downward on a lower balljoint that isn't connected, the fork has nowhere to go but directly down onto the axle.

If you ever have to reuse a cotter pin temporarily, pound it flat and straight with a hammer on a flat metal surface then install correctly so that it doesn't move or slop around the hole.
 

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When this happened to my buddies car, it was either the castle nut or the lower balljoint threads that were stripped.

The castle nut didnt spin and shear the pin, it just came straight down and took the pin with it.
 
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