An issue that seems to present itself time and again with these models of Maseratis is the ball joint dust covers, also known as gaiters. It seems like a very small thing however it can be the cause of a really big problem for these Maseratis.
The ball joint is one of the most important parts of any control arm. Ball joints are essentially a ball and socket configuration that allows the suspension to move, and at the same time stabilize it to steer as they are mainly found on the front of vehicles. Maserati included ball joints as part of the rear of the vehicle, with rear tie rods, in order to make the car corner better, and have more agility than normal cars. A look below at the control arm and ball & socket of the control arm on a Maserati 4200/GS.
While the design is understood for what it is, they also made it so that the ball joint, cannot be replaced without replacing the entire control arm, a very expensive part to say the least. Because the ball joints are not designed to be replaced separately it’s very important to be sure the dust covers that are on them don’t fail.
If the ball joint dust covers/gaiters fail, they allow water, dirt, road grime, and debris to enter the socket of the ball joint and cause it to fail. The longer the dust cover is left in critical condition the more certain the ball joint will fail. Most ball joints on modern vehicles are sealed-for-life types, (non-seal for lifes have a zerk fitting on them) and can and should last right around 80,000 miles depending on the environment the car is driven in. Let’s look at a few photos.
This photo below is the rear upper passenger ball joint on a Maserati Spyder. The Spyder had less that 20,000 miles on it when I took this photo:
As you can see it’s completely open to the elements. Failure of the ball joint is most certainly imminent without addressing this issue. However, it doesn’t need to be this far gone to be affected. Actually, it only needs a few pin holes or cracks to allow water to mix in the lubricant and attack the ball-and-socket.
Because there were no aftermarket alternatives for ball joint dust cover replacements I collaborated with someone to custom make them. Above is a side by side comparison of the ball joint dust covers, the left one is an OEM cover, the right one, is the one I have custom made, and personally install on these cars. I think that’s a crazy quagmire with these type of cars. Not only is it a critical part, very similar to rear tie rods on these cars, they don’t make the replacement part readily available. Essentially, you’ll end up replacing an entire control arm, just under $1000, for a $30 part.
I’ve included a few more photos below of the custom made dust covers and gaiters. Formula Dynamics actually sell these as a partnership. Here is a link to their product webpage: Here