Replacing lower ball joints

gmcman

Original poster
Member
Dec 12, 2011
4,656
I know there are a few threads going over the replacement of the lower ball joints, I don't want to take anything away from other members' how-to's and with that being said, alot of this came from tips of said members but I think I took a different approach this time and wanted to share.

I went with the MOOG K6663 LBJ's and used the 23 piece set from Advance Auto Parts.

Before you start this process, I recommend spraying the axle nut and the top of the lower ball joints with some PB Blaster the day before and let it soak.

There will be pics from both sides but the process is the same.

First step is to loosen the axle nut and remove it until the nut is just passed the threads of the shaft, leave the tire on the ground for this.

CA2_1723.jpg

CA2_1725.jpg


To lessen the chance of damaging the nut, I used a piece of 2x4 to break the axle loose..it took a few good whacks.

CA2_1725a.jpg



Raise the vehicle to a good working height, prob a little more than normal and support with a jack stand, remove tire and place under frame for safety.

Remove the speed sensor clip here.

CA2_1725z.jpg


Remove the brake hose support using a 10MM wrench/socket.

CA2_1725b.jpg



Continue removing the speed sensor wire from the supports and place it aside.


CA2_1725d.jpg


At this point you want to have the steering wheel centered.

I used an adjustable rubber cargo strap, this type doesn't stretch as much as the other types, and a length of chain with two S-hooks from another cargo strap and they both fit inside the hole above the strut mount. The arrow shows where I attached the chain but I first set it to this length then set it aside for later. The chain will not allow the knuckle to fall off the LBJ if attached, the cargo strap just takes the weight off.

Route the strap and chain under the upper control arm.

CA2_1725h.jpg


I am going to leave everything attached to the steering knuckle just to avoid removing excess parts. Granted this way is heavier to move around but worked out just fine. You could also remove the caliper and bracket as a whole and the rotor to make the knuckle easier to move around but that choice is yours.

Attach the rubber cargo strap to the lower caliper bolt.

CA2_1725i.jpg


Loosen the nut below the lower ball joint until the threads are no longer visible, the nut is a 24MM but I found that a 15/16" socket fit more snug. Place a jack under the lower control arm as shown.

CA2_1725k.jpg


Take a small sledge hammer and hit the nut until it pops. Then raise the jack a few more inches after the joint stops pulling from the lower control arm.

[video=youtube_share;2iGYfSgZEUw]http://youtu.be/2iGYfSgZEUw[/video]


At this point, remove the bolt from the upper control arm.

CA2_1725g.jpg



This video shows me removing the assembly from the lower ball joint.

[video=youtube_share;aGdTzrE6NMo]http://youtu.be/aGdTzrE6NMo[/video]

After you set the assemby aside, turn the steering wheel in the direction of the side you are working on, this will pull the assembly away from the joint.

Now you need to take a chisel and knock the tabs back into the joint. I used a shorter chisel, about 6" and it works, but on the rear tab a longer chisel about 10" would have worked better. Using a shorter chisel you need to tap it at a higher angle or have someone hold the knuckle assembly away from the LCA. If you do this turn the steering wheel to gain access.

[video=youtube_share;32G1EkgDIN0]http://youtu.be/32G1EkgDIN0[/video]

I was blessed with a shiny new set, so if everything was put back in the proper location for everyone else, these are the ones you need.

CA2_1725l.jpg



The receiver cup rests under the two tabs on the lower control arm, make sure the threaded portion of the ball joint is through the hole on the bottom. Just use the threaded portion of the clamp to push it out. You will need a 1/2" breaker bar 24" in length, a longer one will work but the 24" will fit in the fender well. The press uses a 22MM socket.

CA2_1725n.jpg


You will know when it releases. :yes:

[video=youtube_share;poiq0IYmv-o]http://youtu.be/poiq0IYmv-o[/video]

Clean up the bore of the LCA and I applied a thin film of lube.

CA2_1725o.jpg


CA2_1725p.jpg


These are the two pieces to install the LBJ.

CA2_1725q.jpg


Remember, the less adapters you use, the less chance of it pressing in crooked. The left side went in good with the install cup under the LBJ, the right side kept going in crooked. For the right, I removed the boot from the LBJ and used the hole in the clamp which was large enough to not damage anything.

Before placing the LBJ in the bore, note the orientation of the boot.

CA2_1725x.jpg


Use this adapter to get it started and to drive it most of the way, you will feel resistance when the LBJ contacts the adapter about 1/8" from the top.

CA2_1725s.jpg


Ready to go.

CA2_1725t.jpg


You don't want this to happen, if so, tap it out on the edge of the LBJ and try again.

CA2_1725r.jpg


Once you drive the LBJ up to the adapter, add this ring above the LBJ to finish the install.

CA2_1726l.jpg


Install snap ring and position the zerk fitting to gain access, just don't position it directly facing the engine.

CA2_1725u.jpg


I added a dab of grease to the lower control arm.

CA2_1725y.jpg


To set the assembly back on to the LBJ, you need to straighten the wheel again and tap the axle nut back in to gain clearance, don't forget to remove the chain if used. Once you have the knuckle on the LBJ, raise the assembly and attach the upper ball joint to the upper control arm. Tighten the upper ball joint bolt to 30 foot pounds.

Using a pry bar, lift the knuckle and fasten the new nut to the LBJ, tighten to 90 foot pounds per MOOG instructions.

CA2_1725v.jpg


This is where the nut stopped at 90 foot pounds.

CA2_1788.jpg


When you tighten the lower nut to 90 foot pounds and the hole is obstructed, you must further tighten until the hole is unobstructed.

CA2_1791.jpg


Install cotter pin.

CA2_1725w.jpg


Reattach brake support bracket, then the speed sensor wire.

Fill the LBJ with grease until you see the boot start to swell.

Reinstall wheel, tighten lugs to 100 foot pounds.

Lower vehicle and tighten axle nut to 103 foot pounds.

Stand up and stretch the back. :biggrin:
 

Hypnotoad

Member
Dec 5, 2011
1,584
Nice write up, I can't believe I didn't see this before. This should be in the article section.
 

03envoy

Member
Dec 25, 2011
537
Great write up! Will be using this! Thank you!
 

2002tbva

Member
Dec 8, 2011
21
Richmond VA
Completed struts yesterday (Monroe Quicks) and now about to start the U and L ball joints on the wifes 2002 TB but wanted to say great job explaining the process for all to use. Not sure if I would even tackle these jobs without all the advice from this site. Wish me luck and will probably be checking in from time to time today either asking for help or just venting frustration :smile:

Thanks again !!

Bill
 

Boricua SS

Member
Nov 20, 2011
3,080
Ohio
great write up!!! :thumbsup: definetely different then what I've seen done in the past... others just buy new LCA since they come with the LBJ pressed in already...
 

rmsg0040

Member
Dec 10, 2011
285
very nice writeup

different than the way I would do it, cant complain though, I always like learning new tips and tricks
 

gmcman

Original poster
Member
Dec 12, 2011
4,656
Thanks for the comments.

I wanted to add since I can no longer edit the post, hopefully Roadie will edit for me, [DONE] when you tighten the lower nut to 90 foot pounds and the hole is obstructed, you must further tighten until the hole is unobstructed. The way I phrased it one may think to turn the other way (loosen) but that's not the case.

Also the reason I left everything attached is not to have a seperate suspended caliper as well as a suspended steering knuckle, too much dangling around but not too difficult to work around. This way was heavier but easier IMO.
 

Dillyo82

Member
Aug 17, 2012
80
Is it possible or just as easy to do the UBJ, LBJ and UCA without removing the Axle Nut?
 

gmcman

Original poster
Member
Dec 12, 2011
4,656
Dillyo82 said:
Is it possible or just as easy to do the UBJ, LBJ and UCA without removing the Axle Nut?

Axle nut is easy to remove, just use a longer ratchet for leverage. You need to get the axle out of the way to press out the lower ball joint though, as well as the steering knuckle. You don't need to pull the axle from the front diff, just move it out of the way.

As suggested in other threads, if you have a lot of miles, especially 150K or more, replacing the entire lower control arm may be a wise choice since you will have new bushings as well.

You will need an alignment though afterwards.
 

CaptainXL

Member
Dec 4, 2011
2,445
gmcman said:
if you have a lot of miles, especially 150K or more, replacing the entire lower control arm may be a wise choice since you will have new bushings as well.

You will need an alignment though afterwards.

Wouldn't it be ok to just get the bushings instead? They are only $16 at AA. The entire lower control arm is $300! ouch.
 

gmcman

Original poster
Member
Dec 12, 2011
4,656
CaptainXL said:
Wouldn't it be ok to just get the bushings instead? They are only $16 at AA. The entire lower control arm is $300! ouch.

I thought they were a major PITA to install? If not then I will take it on. :yes:

Edited to add that I believe the Mevotech arm is only about $160.
 

v7guy

Member
Dec 4, 2011
298
you can get the lower arms with the bracket on rockauto for $180 for the pair.

If you want to go super cheap on the ball joint you can get a pair for $28 (it might be fine, but I don't feel the chance that it's not fine is worth it). The MOOG one is $80 for the pair.

Replacing the bushings on just the lowers is $32 roughly

So Using decent parts... $112 to replace the parts, or $180 to replace the arms with bushings and ball joints installed... obviously the source of the lower ball joint is unknown, but it is what it is.

The cheaper route is a pain in the ass, but you save money as long as you don't count your time lol
 

Dillyo82

Member
Aug 17, 2012
80
So the Bushings are on the Bracket of the LCA?

I saw this video below of how to remove the Bushing Sleeves.
Is this a good method and will it work for a TB? Will a Ball Joint Press Kit work better?
[video=youtube;iG1hQlw6xMk]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iG1hQlw6xMk[/video]

Heard to mark around Bracket to get it back on the way it was originally, so you could drive it to the Alignment Shop.
After I'm done with the Front-End work next weekend, I think I'll be a Trailblazer Certified Technician. Anyone have any Test I can take LOL.
 

Mooseman

Moderator
Dec 4, 2011
25,177
Ottawa, ON
I don't recommend going to Mevotech as their stuff is CCC (Cheap Chinese Crud). The LBJ with their LCA is likely their own. Just to give you an idea, I have a set of their LBJ and the boot will not stay on the joint, letting water and stuff in. Bought an outer tie rod for my son's Honda, it had a crack in the threaded area. Since I had bought it at RA, had to buy a MOOG locally to finish the job. Contacted Mevotech and they didn't care, just told me to send it back to RA, which would have cost as much as the part to ship. Told them I would be bad mouthing their products on the 'Net, she said "go ahead". :whisptersecret:
 

v7guy

Member
Dec 4, 2011
298
the last mevotech arms I put in required grinding out some of the bracket so the bolt would fit through it.

essentially that video shows the process. you need the press to push in the bushing sleeves. I just burned out the old bushings, it proved to be the quickest route, but smelly and messy. I got a thread on here about replacing the bushings, balljoints etc
 

Dillyo82

Member
Aug 17, 2012
80
CaptainXL said:
Just about shat myself when I learned that burning certain rubbers and plastics. Basically it releases the cancer causing chemical dioxin and acids that don't wash off your skin. Don't do it.



Plastic - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


I thought about that when I read "Akrid Black Smoke" from a previous post. Didn't think this would be worth saving some time. I worry enough about not smoking cigarettes or dipping while wrenching.
 

Dillyo82

Member
Aug 17, 2012
80
Did the driver's side Bilstein HD strut, UBJ, LBJ and UCA. Didn't have time to do the LCA Bushings though Took me 8hrs. Printed this write-up out and had no issues except for the Ball Joint Loan-a-tool. I did have to loosen the Axle Nut all the way until the last few threads to allow the LBJ to slip out. They gave me a bent and twisted C-Frame! (Main piece that the Threaded rod goes through). I tried using an air hammer and heat to try to push out the LBJ, but ended up swapping out the kit with another.

When I got the other BJ kit, it had a smashed ring hidden inside another cup.
CHECK YOUR LOAN-A-TOOLS! How could someone bend and twist the Main C-Frame? Looks like it could hold up a building!:eek:

Still have to do the P Side, Sway links w/Prothane Bushings all around and both LCA Bushings. Only the UBJ has a torn boot on the P-Side now...Everything else looks OK. The D-Side UCA is what really needed replaced.

Thanks for the great How-To GMCMAN :thumbsup:
 

gmcman

Original poster
Member
Dec 12, 2011
4,656
Dillyo82 said:
I did have to loosen the Axle Nut all the way until the last few threads to allow the LBJ to slip out.

Thanks for the great How-To GMCMAN :thumbsup:

You're welcome.:thumbsup:

Yeah, another portion I need Roadie to highlight :biggrin:. I tried to go over it as much as possible noting the areas that gave me slight issues and I missed that part, my bad...should be highlighted. When you're setting the knuckle back on it's easy to overlook that part about the axle shaft.
 

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smokey262

Member
Sep 15, 2013
147
Awesome thread. I will be doing my upper and lower ball joints as my next project. Ordering parts tomorrow. Would like to do the UCA and LCA completely so I gain new bushings in the deal. When removing the bracket for the LCA is there more to it than removing the three bolts that go in from the bottom? After they are out does the bracket simply slide out?
 

gmcman

Original poster
Member
Dec 12, 2011
4,656
smokey262 said:
When removing the bracket for the LCA is there more to it than removing the three bolts that go in from the bottom? After they are out does the bracket simply slide out?

Only thing with removing the LCA is you will need an alignment afterwards. The lower 3 bolts have a very high torque rating, be sure the alignment shop knows this when you drop it off. Mine didn't and when I hit the brakes my frame slid forward on the bracket. There are 3 bolts, 2 rear bolts I believe have 177 ft/lbs and the front bolt has 190 ft/lb. Not sure which torque the middle bolt has.
 

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