Jump to content

How-To: Replace Ball Joints

Recommended Posts

As the title says, this is a write up on how to replace ball joints. A lot of people are scared of doing this, and possibly for good reason. I just finished my fourth one, and honestly, it wasn't very hard. The problem comes with having no experience using the the ball joint press, and knowing where to put your jacks etc. I think I have it down fairly well, so hopefully you guys will go out and replace your balljoints. Getting a shop to do it is expensive.

Tools Needed:

Wrenches up through 1-1/16 and through 21MM

A small 1/2 inch impact wrench

A ball joint press. You can rent these from Autozone. They cost $100, but you get all of your money back when you return it.

An air compressor

Jack stands and floor jacks


Claw hammer or any small hammer

Small needle nose pliers

Grease gun.

First off: Properly raise your car up on jack stands. DO NOT use just floor jacks, as this is dangerous. Make sure to that the bottom of your control arm is at least 2ft off of the ground. This will ensure that you have room to fit the ball joint press under the balljoint. If you do not get it high enough, you will have to raise it later, which is a pain, and not particularly safe.

1) Once the car is off of the ground with the wheel removed, the first step is to remove your brake caliper. To do this you need to remove the clip on the back side of this pin.


Remove it with some needle nose pliers, and be sure to put it back on the pin once the pin is removed.


Use something similar to bailing wire to hang your caliper off of any hole/bolt in the fenderwell. Do not let it hang by the brake hose, this can damage it, especially if it is a steel braided line.


2) Now you need to remove remove your brake caliper bracket. There are two 15MM bolts on the back side of the rotor that are loc-tited in. Just be tough with them, they'll come out. Be sure to loc-tite them back in when you reassemble.


Now remove the rotor. It may need a lot of beating with a hammer to break the rust. Make sure if you hit it, to hit the hat(middle of the rotor) or the edges of the rotor. Do not hit the braking surface. I've found hitting the edge works best, just try not to destroy the rotor. You'll be left with this.


This would also be a good time to remove some of the grime that is built up around your ABS rings etc. Hit them with a wire brush, and I like to scrape off stuff with a screwdriver.. Makes me happy.


The removed grime.


3) Now is a good time to put a floor jack under your control arm. You have to do this before you remove your sway bar end links and strut, or else your spring might fly out of the control arm and kill you. Seriously. As you can see, my car is not as high off of the ground as your car should be. This is because I was also replacing my springs at the time and was able to lift up my control arm farther.


4) Remove your strut from the spindle. I believe the bolts were 21MM on one side and 15/16 on the other, but don't hold me to that. You will also have to remove the ABS bracket. Should be 15/16. Once again, make sure your floor jack is under the control arm and supporting it before you do this.


Edited by Slykin
Link to comment
Share on other sites

4) Now remove the sway bar end link. It takes at least one 15MM deep socket. Sometimes two are necessary if the whole end link spins on you.



5) Now we get to the ball joint. The next step is remove the lock nut from the top of the ball joint. Get a big hairy 15/16 wrench and use your feet. It will be pretty stuck on there. The ball joint will not spin in the socket though since ball joints have tapered studs into the spindle.


Go ahead and spray some liquid wrench or PB Blaster on the stud.


6) As my sorry picture represents, beat on the top of ball joint to break it free from the spindle. Just don't hold it like this :drunk:. I was able to break it free with this hammer. Any bigger and it probably won't fit in the fenderwell.


7) Lift the spindle off, and hang it from some more bailing wire. Try to avoid having it at huge angles in relation to the steering rack.


8) Now it's party time!!! Get out the lovely ball joint press! In the box you will find several metal discs, cylindrical thingy ma-bobbers, and a giant C-Clamp. First, grab the disc with the larger hole in the middle and place it over the top of the ball joint with the "stepped" side down. The other side fits to the inside of the C-Clamp end.



9) Now grab the largest cylinder and place it on the stepped side of the disc with the small hole in the middle. This will fit on the end of the screw in the C-Clamp, and will encapsulate the bottom of the ball joint. Getting the clamp on all of this can be tricky by yourself, if necessary, purchase a buddy to help. I find they usually only cost a couple packs of Coors.




Edited by Slykin
Link to comment
Share on other sites

9) Stick your impact onto the end of the press and hammer away. I was running my impact at 100P.S.I. and it didn't come out easy. Just hammer on it for a while, it will come out eventually.



10) Clean that nastiness.



11) Now is a good time to take a break and drink some beers. The hard part is about to start. This is when you'll be especially in need of a 3rd or 4th hand. BE PATIENT.

12) It is now time to put your new(hopefully Moog) ball joint into the control arm. Put the medium cylinder onto the stepped side of the disc with the large hole. This will sit over top of the ball joint hole in the control arm.


13) Take the ball joint and light tap it into the control arm so you don't have to hold it up there. Make sure that you tap it in fairly evenly.


14) Put the small holed disc against the bottom of the ball joint. One of the sides has a "step" that fits the size of the bottom of the ball joint almost perfectly.


15) Fit the C-Clamp over the whole contraption. Now, the ball joint will probably not go straight in. It will probably be cock-eyed. Do not worry about this too much, just keep hammering on it with the C-Clamp and have your buddy hit the bottom of the disc(that's under the ball joint) with a hammer on the side that hasn't gone in as far as you hit it with the impact. You will probably need to stop and let your air supply get back up to pressure. Unless the ball joint is REALLY out of line, just keep hammering/impacting it. It will seem like it isn't going anywhere, but it should get there. If it's waay out of line, push the ball joint out like you did with the old one and try again. Eventually you will get it in, albeit with a bit of swearing and lots of beer.



16) Take a picture of your ugly mug. You'll probably be angry and tired. THIS IS REQUIRED.


17) Lastly, tap the ball joint boot on with a hammer and screw the grease zirk in the bottom of the ball joint. Usually you'll just have to screw the zirk in crooked, they don't tap threads in them I think.


18) Reassemble everything the way it came. When you tighten the spindle down onto the ball joint there may be specifications in the instructions... or just tighten it until the castle nut(1-1/16) allows the cotter pin to fit through. Make sure it's tight. Also, make sure to grease the ball joint AFTER tightening down the spindle or else the grease will just pour out the top of the boot.


Edited by Slykin
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The only things I would do different:

Instead of smacking the top of the ball joint, smack the side of the spindle near the ball joint, and it will "pop" free. I usually leave the castle nut on, but loose, so that when it does pop free, it catches on the spindle and doesn't drop. Then I put the jack under it and finish taking off the castle nut.

And don't use an impact on the tool, it will bend/strip out the screw section. Did that before, had to do the ol' switch-a-roo to get it fixed.

Other than that, great write-up. Definitely do this before your ball joint seperates and the whole assembly goes where it wants to go and jacks up your beautiful ride.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not thoroughly convinced that the spindle hit would work honestly. I had to hit it pretty dang hard directly on top to get mine loose. I'm not sure what damage it could cause either since you're putting a new ball joint in anyways. Nevertheless, if it works for everyone, then that's cool too.

And as far as not using an impact... I don't know that I would have ever gotten the thing in without it, especially on the stock control arms. Those stamped control arms usually don't have a perfectly round hole and you gotta really work to get it in, even with an impact. I've never had issues with the threads though. I would just hate to sit there and do it with a wrench, that would be miserable. Whatever works for you though lol!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

lmao @ the angry pic! this was a biatch when i just did it. i know it was 95 outside with 100% humidity. i think i actually cried for a couple seconds. like maybe 4-7 tears actually dropped, or maybe i was just sweating my fuggin ass off???

Link to comment
Share on other sites

AFter doing mine in the Capri and a friends in his 94 V6, I almost think it's cheaper to purchase a set of control arms with new ball joints in them. Yea, it costs you more for the control arm vs the ball joint, but it's so much easier to replace the control arm :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

i'm just glad my car doesnt have a size 13 shoe print dent on the door. funny story as i was changing the ball joints, and tie rods. im in the garage and after about 2.5 hrs or so i start talking to myself, ya know like WTF, and you SON OF A BITCH, and my dog got out of the fence so my neighbor comes walking up my driveway with my dog as i'm dam near crying and cussing out my car! awesome:tsk:

he is afraid of me now i think

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It definitely IS much easier, but it's still cheaper for those who don't want to buy a control arm. Plus, I like doing things the hard way sometimes haha :D

:werd: As I've gotten older, I've been trying to find the easier way to get things done. I usually don't succeed.

i'm just glad my car doesnt have a size 13 shoe print dent on the door. funny story as i was changing the ball joints, and tie rods. im in the garage and after about 2.5 hrs or so i start talking to myself, ya know like WTF, and you SON OF A BITCH, and my dog got out of the fence so my neighbor comes walking up my driveway with my dog as i'm dam near crying and cussing out my car! awesome:tsk:

he is afraid of me now i think

hahaha awesome. I did that to my Talon, doing the timing belt tensioner and all the pulleys while it was in the car. Took me another 2 hours to pull the fender, straighten it out as best as possible, and reinstall it, then get back to the timing stuff. Sometimes my short temper gets the best of me ... :lol:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

SN95 Source ©

The premier SN95 Community

  • Create New...