Ball joints are a common cause of problems in the suspension and steering systems of new vehicles. They can be easy to replace if they need to be or else they can be difficult to replace if they are riveted or pressed into place. If you have ones that are simply bolted in place or threaded in take a look at this Ball Joint Replacement and Inspection. That article will tell you how to properly diagnose and replace bolted on or threaded in ball joints.
OTC-6530 Ball Joint Master Kit
This article will focus on the pressed in or riveted in ball joints. These ball joints are sometimes very difficult to remove and if you are not confident that you have the skills to replace your ball joints, then you should not attempt this and simply take your car to a trained technician. Removal is the most difficult part for the most part. Most new ball joints will have bolts to hold them in place, unless they are the pressed in kind. The Procedure
- Park your vehicle and allow for a couple days of work. This task can take some time and you may need to purchase extra parts that break.
- You can now jack your vehicle up and support it on jack stands. If you don’t have a jack and jack stands this ATD7500 Jack Pack comes with a jack and 2 stands.
- Remove the front wheels to gain access to your ball joints.
- You are now going to need to locate your ball joints and what you have to remove to gain access to them. More than likely you will have to remove the brakes and set them aside. Remove whatever is needed to gain access to the ball joints.
- With everything out of the way you can remove the nut on the ball joint. You will then want to hit the side of the control arm or spindle where the ball joint is attached. This will shock the metal and cause the control arm or spindle to simply fall off the ball joint.
- Now do the same if you have another ball joint that you are going to be replacing.
- The easy part is now done. You will now need to take extra care. We will go over the procedure for removing the rivets first if your ball joint is riveted.
Riveted Ball Joint Procedure
- You will want to locate the heads of the rivets. With the heads located you are going to want to take a center punch and make a dent in the center of each head of the rivet. This is very important to make sure you are centered. If you don’t have a punch this ATD720 20pc Punch and Chisel Set will work.
- With the rivet heads center punched you will want to take a drill and drill bit and drill a small hole through the head straight down into the rivet. Do not go all the way through the rivet though.
- After making the small hole it is now time to take a chisel that you got in the above set and cut the head off the rivet. The hole will help make this easier and it will also weaken the rivet. Make sure to get the head off flush to the mounting hole. You will need to do the same to the rest of the rivets.
- It is now time to take out the heavy duty tools. You will need to use a heavy duty air hammer such as this ING121Q 3000 Bpm Air Hammer and the right size punch for your air hammer to punch out the rivets. Use the air hammer to push out the rivets from the top to the bottom. If the rivets are not coming out stop and look. You may have material that is left from when you cut the head off or you may have to drill the hole a little bit bigger to weaken the rivet more. Remove all of the rivets in the same manner as above.
- With all the rivets removed you can remove the ball joint.
- Take your new ball joint which should use nuts and bolts to fasten it and install it following the instructions.
Press Fit Procedure
- If you have press fit ball joints you are going to need some special tools. You will need a ball joint press such as this OTC7249 Ball Joint Tool Set. This set will work for many applications and if you need a specialized set check out tooldesk for your needs.
- With the proper tool and the proper adapter for the ball joint press you can now set up the tool to remove the ball joint. Follow the instructions in the kit.
- You are now ready to remove the ball joint. You will simply turn on the end with a socket or wrench. Make sure to watch and see if the ball joint is coming out. If the ball joint is not coming out STOP. You can risk breaking the tool.
- If your ball joint is not coming out you will need to apply some heat to the control arm or spindle, wherever the ball joint is mounted. YOU CAN ONLY HEAT THE CONTROL ARM IF IT IS STEEL OR CAST IRON NEVER HEAT AN ALUMINUM CONTROL ARM SO TEST IT FIRST. Use a blow torch to heat around the ball joint. Use care. The heat will expand the metal holding the ball joint in place. Now try pressing out the ball joint. If it still doesn’t come then you will need to apply heat and use ice or something cold on the ball joint.
- With the ball joint removed you can move onto the next ball joints and remove them as well.
- To install the ball joint you will want to follow the instructions and set up the tool for installation.
- Use the tool to install the new ball joint in place.
- You are now ready to go back together with your vehicle. You will want to first torque the nuts that hold the ball joints to the suspension. Install a new cotter pin.
- You can reinstall anything you removed to gain access to the ball joints.
- Reinstall the tires.
- If your ball joints are greaseable make sure to grease them or check to see if they are full of grease.
You just finished installing new ball joints in your vehicle and saved yourself some money. Make sure to test drive your vehicle and listen for any squeaking or other noises that were not present before. Written by: Cody Mammenga an NDSCS Student