Suspension Ball Joint Repair and Replacement
Tackling the job of repair or replacing the suspension part of a ball joint might seem to some as a daunting task, but with proper instruction and the proper tools the job can be completed in an afternoon in the garage. Although the tools needed for the most part will be your basic set of mechanics tools, you will also need a good jack, a set of jack stands, and a ball joint press. The ball joint press can be an expensive tool to purchase. If you check with your local auto parts store it is likely on their loan-a-tool program, and can be “borrowed” for the day with only a small refundable deposit. Let’s begin with the very first step:
1. Pull your car onto a flat level surface, and set the emergency brake. Place wheel chocks behind the rear tires. Loosen all the lug nuts on both front tires, and center the jack on the front cross member. Lift the front of the vehicle until both tires are slightly off the ground and place the jack stands safely under the vehicle.
2. Finish removing the lug nuts, and pull the tires off setting them out of your work area. Removal of the calipers and brake parts may or may not be necessary, but if you do remove the calipers use a wire hanger to suspend them with so there is no un-necessary stress on the brake lines.
3. At this time, I would suggest that you spray a good rust inhibitor on all the ball joint bolts and let it begin to loosen the rust and road grime from them.
4. After allowing some time to soak, remove the cotter pin from the castle nut, and remove the nut. This is where you are going to need the ball joint press. Some ball joints will allow you to remove them with a simple pickle fork, but more often than not you will need the ball joint press.
5. Once you have the old ball joint out take the time to compare it to the new one you bought at the auto parts store. If it is not an identical match, you need to return it to the store where it was purchased for the correct part.
6. Once you have determined that you have the correct ball joint, carefully slide it through the hole in the control arm being careful not to damage the threads. Replace the castle nut and tighten. I prefer to use an impact wrench to tighten it with, but if you do not have one make sure it is very tight. Now, replace the cotter pin.
From this point on, finishing the rest of the ball joint replacement is as simple as reversing the steps of disassembly. Installing a new ball joint is not a difficult process, but it is most important that you put safety fist. Use your wheel chocks and jack stands. Never work on a car that is not properly supported with jack stands! Replacing a ball joint is not a difficult job with the proper tools and an area to work safely in. Take your time, and be patient. You might run into some sticky nuts and bolt, but with a little patience your ball joint replacement can go smoothly.