Suspension Noise Problem Resolved
Thanks to all for questioning the need for a ball joint replacement on my W210.
Even though I trusted my independent mechanic and have used them for 3 years, I doubted his recommendation for a ball joint replacement with only 21K miles on the new joints replaced while under warranty.
I found another highly recommended independent mechanic and he advised me that the ball joints were fine and the problem was with the stabilzer (sway) bar bushings and links. He test drove the car and confirmed it. He also said this was a very common problem with the W210s.
Today I had him replace the stabilizer bar's links and bushings and the problem is solved. Cost was about $175 and it took about 45 minutes for the repair.
Needless to say, I'm very happy with this mechanic and the cost. I'm very unhappy with my former mechanic. I would have wasted well over $300 for a ball joint replacement including a wheel alignment. And I still would have the problem.
The car's front end feels solid and quiet again, just like new.
2000 Lexus RX300