How To: Lower Ball Joints

Hypnotoad

Original poster
Member
Dec 5, 2011
1,584
This How-To will show you how to use the Alltrade Tools Kit 46 Ball Joint/U Joint Service Set, which I rented from Advance Auto Parts to replace your lower ball joints. It is important to use this tool kit because it is the only one that I have found to have the correct pieces. I will only cover the steps on how to press the ball joint in and out of the lower control arm, since getting to the ball joint has been covered in other threads.

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The first step was to remove the crimps that ensure the ball joint stays in the knuckle. I used a cold chisel and a hammer to remove the lip.

Before:
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After:
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These are the pieces from the kit used to remove the old ball joint.

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For some reason, GM decided to make the collar on the ball joint the same size as the outer radius of the lower control arm. This makes it impossible to use the 7 piece ball joint tool that most auto parts stores carry.

It's hard to see in the picture, but there are tabs on either side of the lower control arm that you place the receiver cup onto from the bottom.

Press the ball joint down as far as it will go.

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Then, push it out the rest of the way with the C Clamp.

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The ball joint pressed out.

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I used these pieces to press the ball joint into the lower control arm. The way I used them was not the way they were intended to be used, but it worked.

Disclaimer: Don't come bitchin if something goes wrong or it doesn't work for you.

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Install the snap ring.

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Install grease fitting.

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Lastly, enjoy saving hundred of dollars!:wootwoot:
 

gelato

Member
Apr 22, 2012
4
thanks for the good write up and pics for this install.

agreed, the alltrade-powerbuilt 23 pc kit was essential for this - the adapter cup with the notch fits the lower control arm nicely, as it rests on the ears of the casting
(only advance auto carried this kit in my neighborhood, not pepboys or oreillys)

installing the lower ball joints was scary, it required max air pressure from the compressor and extended use of the 1/2" impact wrench.
the lowers were such a tight press fit that i thought the press c-clamp frame was going to break!
the ball joint pressed home with very violent and loud pops (shook a lot of rust off the lower control arm). wear some safety glasses when you do this.
i have to think that the ball joints were designed oversize a little too much, as there is no reason for anything to be this tight. the original oem ball joints pushed out smoothly with no problems, and had a nice smooth OD. the aftermarket ball joints had a knurled OD which pressed into the lower control arm bore.
i'm surprised nobody mentions this characteristic in other write ups

the upper ball joints were relatively easy and low stress - we were able to completely remove the hub-spindle and do this on the bench (without fear of denting the fender if left on the car). i would suspect that the smaller generic 7 pc ball joint press kit that most parts stores carry would be able to perform the upper ball joint r/r.

it was tricky to swap all the parts in the ball joint press kit, so that the correct adapter fit the ball joint shoulder during removal/installation (no instructions provided, trial and error). it is possible though, just takes patience. we learned that the aftermarket ball joints had slightly different shoulder flange diameters (stupid), which required us to remove the rubber boot before pressing in (otherwise the boot would be damaged during installation - bad). it is critical to remove the boots, they simply slip on top of the ball joint (not bonded or glued). we wasted a couple hours trying to figure out how to install the different size flanges without destroying the boots, before we figured out that the boots just pop off. not sure if this problem is unique to the lower-end-house-brand-china parts i purchased (pepboys house brand), or if moog parts would be better designed (moog is at least twice as much $, i checked - if you really want moog best to order them through rockauto online). i did not have to use the jumbo socket adapters shown in the previous pics, because when the boots were removed a simple sleeve adapter (in the kit) could be used.

in order to service the upper and lower ball joints, the sway bar end links do NOT need to be removed. don't make the mistake of trying to remove them, only to find out that the bolts are frozen (rust belt), and then leave them unsuspectingly loose upon which they will make clunking noises...been there done that.

the lower strut knuckle does not need to be removed either.
 

rmsg0040

Member
Dec 10, 2011
285
I have only done the uppers not the lower, but I would recommend a impact gun either air or electric when pressing the ball joints in and out. Guess I am a weakling.
 

ieatglue

Member
Nov 20, 2011
152
Can the OP edit his post with pics hosted on Photobucket pls? :biggrin:
 

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