How-To: Ball joint/LCA replacement

OB
Former Moderator
Posts: 9686
Joined: Tue Nov 15, 2005 9:38 pm
Location: Bay Area, CA

How-To: Ball joint/LCA replacement

Post by OB » Sun Jan 20, 2008 6:28 pm

Seeing as how there is little to no information regarding this procedure here on 2gn I figured I might as well make a how-to. I decided to be the guinea pig and try this without much in the way of advise. I included as many pics as I could, hope this helps those of you who are weary about this project.


TOOLS NEEDED:

*Hammers
*Torch (Mapp gas at the very least)
*Air Compressor
*1/2" Impact gun
1/2" + 3/8" ratchets
Various sockets (10-13-15-18-21-22mm and more)
Various socket extensions
A few combo end wrenches and a 12" crescent wrench
Small and large pry bars
1/2" Torque wrench
Ball joint press (or hydraulic press if possible)
Jack and stands
Vice grips and various pliers

*Are optional tools


STEP 1

Raise vehicle and support on jack stands. Access to a lift would prove very useful. Remove wheel and tire assemblies and set aside.


STEP 2

Remove pinch-bolt attaching ball joint to the steering knuckle. May require a bit of force to remove, don't be afraid to beat on it since we're replacing it anyway. A pry bar works well and does the least damage.

The pinch-bolt bore:
Image

Pry like this:
Image


STEP 3

Once the control arm is separated from the knuckle, we need to remove it from the vehicle. Start by removing the stabilizer bar end-links. Grab the upper threaded nut with a pair of vicegrips or athe correct wrench, and use a 15mm socket on the bottom. The impact gun makes this much easier. Be sure to reassemble the endlinks before setting them aside, this way they're easier to reinstall later. Swing the bar down and out of the way, allowing the control arms to move more freely.

Image

Image


STEP 4

Remove the plastic belt shield by removing the three 10mm fastners. Set aside. Now remove the pencil strut, held on by two 15mm bolts. Keep the bolts and washers intact and set aside.

Image

Image


STEP 5

Now remove the engine torque strut. The rear bolt is deep and may require the use of a wrench to remove. I didnt have a deep socket in that size in my home-box, so I had to do it the hard way. The front bolt is much easier to get to (18mm I believe). Keep all hardware and set aside.

Image


STEP 6

Time to remove the lower control arm. Use a 22mm socket to remove the bolt holding the front part of the LCA to the frame. A 15/16" works well for the rear. Air is your friend here, these are very tight and very large bolts.

Front:
Image

Rear:
Image

Removed:
Image

Some pics of the bad ball joint still installed:

Image

Image


STEP 7

Alright, time for the fun part. Set up your ball joint press so that the lower cup is big enough to recieve the whole joint. Find a way to support the control arm to be as level to the ground (or bench) as possible. Assemble the upper portion of the press to put equal force on the joint. Be sure to position the joint in the LCA so that it is as straight-up as possible. A hammer works well here. Press the ball joint out through the bottom of the LCA and into the reciever cup. If you use air on the press, keep the level down, and be sure to apply anti-sieze to the threads to prevent binding. Keep it as straight as possible when hitting it.

Image

Image

Image

Once the joint is out, clean the bore in the LCA and be sure it is in decent shape to accept a new ball joint. Assemble the press to basically do the reverse (LCA is now upside down) and press the new ball joint in. *** Be very careful not to apply uneven pressure to the joint. Keep it straight. Do not over tighten it; it is fully pressed in once the joint is flush with the LCA bore.

***Be sure to get the pinch bolt bore in the ball joint facing the inside of the LCA. It should be as straight as possible. Adjustment can be made on some ball joints after install if the top of the joint uses a hex. Otherwise, get it right the first time.

Once pressed in, slide a new grease boot over the ball joint and pop it over the lower portion of the joint. Apply multi-purpose high temp grease in the zirc fitting until it comes out the top of the joint. Wipe of the excess and install a non-serviceable zirc fitting in its place. The LCA is ready for reinstallation.



STEP 8

Install the LCA back into the frame. Reinstall both bolts The front bolt needs 120 ft lbs while the rear calls for 170 ft lbs. Torque them and move on.

Use of a torch may be required for this portion. You need to install the ball joint into the knuckle. The bore of the knuckle is VERY tight around the head of the ball joint. I tried hammering, heating, prying, nothing seemed to work. Finally I ended up using a small flathead screwdriver to pry to the slit in the knuckle open, allowing the knuckle to be forced over the joint. I supported the LCA with a jack, which basically created a ghetto vice of sorts. Worked like a charm. The hard part is over. Now install the pinch-bolt and tighten down to hold the ball joint into the knuckle.


STEP 9

Reinstall the torque strut. See FSM for aligment specs, or PM me for them. Reinstall pencil strut and the finally the belt-guard. Last but not least, reinstall the stabilizer bar endlinks back onto the LCA and tighten. If you removed anything else, now is a good time to put it back together. I removed the knuckle-to-strut bolts to get some extra movement out of the knuckle, but it might not have been necessary for some people. Get everything tightened up and reinstall the wheel/tire assemblies. You're done!


Special thanks to my Dad for letting me attempt this one his Neon.

Thanks also to my buddy Mike K at work for the press, and Shane for the air-powered grease gun.

Credit for the majority of the procedures goes to my trusty FSM.




-Derek

|Donate to 2gn|Feedback || OB's | GozziFab | All Business |


User avatar
spencersummerfield
2GN Member
Posts: 399
Joined: Mon Sep 11, 2006 12:02 pm
Location: London, Ontario

Post by spencersummerfield » Sun Jan 20, 2008 11:55 pm

great write up!!!!
2008 Audi A3 - 6 Speed, 2.0T S Line


Image

User avatar
BlackRoseRacing
2009 Platinum Contributor
Posts: 12729
Joined: Sat Dec 25, 2004 8:58 am

Post by BlackRoseRacing » Mon Jan 21, 2008 6:24 am

:thumbup: :thumbup:

jT
2GN Member
Posts: 1099
Joined: Tue Jul 04, 2006 2:37 am

Post by jT » Mon Jan 21, 2008 11:39 am

nice job


did you use air on the press? if doing it manually how hard do you think it is to push the ball joint out?

even if i get an impact its going to be a cheap one, without much power... 220ft/lbs at most, or thereabouts.. hope it works

OB
Former Moderator
Posts: 9686
Joined: Tue Nov 15, 2005 9:38 pm
Location: Bay Area, CA

Post by OB » Tue Jan 22, 2008 10:10 pm

^Oh yeah, it would be a huge pain to do it with a ratchet. A vice would be a necessity if you dont use air on it, otherwise you'd be spinning the whole thing and it would be pretty tough.
-Derek

|Donate to 2gn|Feedback || OB's | GozziFab | All Business |


User avatar
Canada
Junior Admin
Posts: 4816
Joined: Tue Jun 28, 2005 4:05 pm
Location: Island Grove, Ontario, Canada

Post by Canada » Tue Jan 22, 2008 10:53 pm

Another fantastic write up Derek.

I imagine for those thinking about upgrading bushings, now would be a fantastic time to do that as well...

OB
Former Moderator
Posts: 9686
Joined: Tue Nov 15, 2005 9:38 pm
Location: Bay Area, CA

Post by OB » Tue Jan 22, 2008 11:04 pm

Thanks Chris ;)

Yeah it would indeed be a great time for LCA bushings. I included "LCA replacement" in the title since about halfway through the job the control is out and can easily be serviced (bushings) or completely replaced with a new one if needed. Kinda kills two birds with one stone.

Also note, Dodge offers a LCA package with bushings AND ball joint already pressed in for somewhere in the $250 range. We almost went this way to avoid headaches, but ended up taking on the ball joint separately to save money. This job cost about $55 in parts. Expect to pay $2-400 in labor to have a shop do this.
-Derek

|Donate to 2gn|Feedback || OB's | GozziFab | All Business |


User avatar
Diablo0
2GN.org Owner/Admin
Posts: 12574
Joined: Thu Apr 15, 2004 11:20 pm
Location: Greenville, SC
Contact:

Post by Diablo0 » Wed Jan 23, 2008 9:43 am

Great write-up ;-)
-Jason
Black '02 Neon R/T | White '02 Neon R/T - SRT-4 Engine Swap
Image
^^^ no, that isn't what I look like haha
Try not to become a man of success but rather to become a man of value. - Albert Einstein

hybrid-Srt2001
2GN Member
Posts: 2759
Joined: Mon May 28, 2007 6:06 am
Location: reno/cali
Contact:

Post by hybrid-Srt2001 » Wed Apr 16, 2008 9:20 pm

i didn't know you could buy just the ball joint. dodge only sells the whole control arm for like 100+ dollars

latief
2GN Member
Posts: 1483
Joined: Sun May 14, 2006 11:32 am
Location: Gainesville, Florida

Post by latief » Wed May 07, 2008 9:05 am

Great write-up. i am about to do this along with the control arm bushings ....

So realisticly speaking, could this be done without an air compressor and impact gun?

and for lubing up the ball joint, how much? what greese brand did you use? and do you do that after it is back in the knucle, or before you re-install the control arm?

thanks,

NickKo
2009 Gold Contributor
Posts: 2248
Joined: Sun Jun 11, 2006 11:24 am
Location: IL./WI.border

Post by NickKo » Wed May 07, 2008 2:16 pm

latief wrote: So realisticly speaking, could this be done without an air compressor and impact gun?
"In theory", you could.
BUT every time that I have done front-end work, I usually need air tools at some point.

Lube the ball joint BEFORE you put it on the ground with the full weight on the car.

Hopefully, other people can chime in regarding the necessity of air tools ....
I *may* have done some front end work without power tools (it has been a while), but I had a compressor "on hand" in each instance, so I never got stuck on the job. :wink:

-Nick
-1998 2-dr SOHC MTX= 57mm TB; Maddog STS
-2000 Ply.LX w/MTX = Maddog STS; CAI; 2.5 exh.; 60mm T/B
-2001 ATX w/Syked PCM + Magnum header
-2001 ACR w/SRT T/B bored out to 55mm

Official "I'm Going to Drive My Neon till it Dies" Club #000009

OB
Former Moderator
Posts: 9686
Joined: Tue Nov 15, 2005 9:38 pm
Location: Bay Area, CA

Post by OB » Wed May 07, 2008 11:25 pm

If you can provide a good 50-100 lbs of man-torque for a solid 30 mins then air tools arent necessary. With enough leverage there is no need for air tools in general, but they're sure nice! The press doesnt need to spin fast; the threads may be damaged if you apply too much torque too fast. Set the impact gun to its lowest setting and let it do the work. Some anti sieze does wonders regardless of the method you use to turn the press.
-Derek

|Donate to 2gn|Feedback || OB's | GozziFab | All Business |


User avatar
Adionik
2GN Member
Posts: 2777
Joined: Mon Apr 02, 2007 1:37 am
Location: S.A

Post by Adionik » Wed Dec 10, 2008 12:03 am

Oh god not the lower control arm again
dank(r/t) wrote:you tell 'em altezza light, black headlight cover guy!
you know what's up, it's obvious.
TheRandom1 wrote:Adionik, you're an asshole, we all know this.

occasional demons
Junior Admin
Posts: 19915
Joined: Thu May 03, 2007 12:14 pm
Location: Ashland Ohio

Post by occasional demons » Wed Dec 10, 2008 9:42 am

WTF?
Bill
Probably shouldn't listen to anything your penis says, that guy's a dick.
Patience, of course, is a very powerful weapon, but sometimes I start to regret that it is not a firearm.
Too much time spent here is a sign of a bad case of Ownaneonvirus.

2000 Neon MTX swap with '02 R/T PCM
1999 neon coupe 2.4 swap

User avatar
Adionik
2GN Member
Posts: 2777
Joined: Mon Apr 02, 2007 1:37 am
Location: S.A

Post by Adionik » Wed Dec 10, 2008 10:10 am

I had a hard time when I did my lower control arm bushings install

You also don't know how much i'm kicking myself in the ass right now for not replacing it while I was down there
dank(r/t) wrote:you tell 'em altezza light, black headlight cover guy!
you know what's up, it's obvious.
TheRandom1 wrote:Adionik, you're an asshole, we all know this.

neonpla
2GN Member
Posts: 2571
Joined: Tue Aug 03, 2004 2:27 am
Location: Killeen, TX

Post by neonpla » Thu Feb 05, 2009 2:00 pm

do you have a part # for the ball joint?
2008 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
2005 Dodge Neon SRT4

OB
Former Moderator
Posts: 9686
Joined: Tue Nov 15, 2005 9:38 pm
Location: Bay Area, CA

Post by OB » Thu Feb 05, 2009 2:29 pm

The joint I used was a Napa part, and I don't have the # anymore. You might try looking in the Part # request forum. If you can't find it, just post a new thread requesting the info. Shouldn't take more than a few hours for a reply. ;)
-Derek

|Donate to 2gn|Feedback || OB's | GozziFab | All Business |


darthroush
2GN Member
Posts: 1637
Joined: Tue Jul 14, 2009 2:14 am
Location: People's Republic of Kalifornia

Post by darthroush » Mon Aug 03, 2009 3:29 am

Nice write up. This is a project in my near future; lucky me. Is there a specific reason to have to install a non-serviceable fitting instead of leaving a regular one on there?

OB
Former Moderator
Posts: 9686
Joined: Tue Nov 15, 2005 9:38 pm
Location: Bay Area, CA

Post by OB » Mon Aug 03, 2009 7:49 pm

The idea is to prevent someone from over greasing the ball joint. The boot design keeps the grease in there a lot longer than a standard one, which is why they claim they are "for the life of the vehicle." Obviously this is not the case, so having and using a grease fitting isn't a bad idea at all, if you know what you're doing.
-Derek

|Donate to 2gn|Feedback || OB's | GozziFab | All Business |


anomalous0
2GN Member
Posts: 457
Joined: Sun Oct 22, 2006 7:23 pm
Location: Arizona

Post by anomalous0 » Thu Oct 15, 2009 1:27 am

Just did this procedure on one side, and I have to say, it was alot easier than I expected (I didn't use air). My old joint was in really bad shape. I got one of the MOOG ball joints, and it was goodt build quality, but I liked the fact that it had a snap ring to retain it (probably why it wasn't insanely hard to press in, didn't need as tight a clearance) and a hex head so you could adjust the direction after installation.
"If you haven't bled on it, it's not your car"

NickKo
2009 Gold Contributor
Posts: 2248
Joined: Sun Jun 11, 2006 11:24 am
Location: IL./WI.border

Post by NickKo » Sat Oct 17, 2009 5:14 pm

anomalous0 wrote:Just did this procedure on one side, and I have to say, it was alot easier than I expected (I didn't use air). My old joint was in really bad shape. I got one of the MOOG ball joints, and it was goodt build quality, but I liked the fact that it had a snap ring to retain it (probably why it wasn't insanely hard to press in, didn't need as tight a clearance) and a hex head so you could adjust the direction after installation.
WOW, Nice !!! :D

Another +1 vote for Moog parts !! :thumbup:

- Nick
-1998 2-dr SOHC MTX= 57mm TB; Maddog STS
-2000 Ply.LX w/MTX = Maddog STS; CAI; 2.5 exh.; 60mm T/B
-2001 ATX w/Syked PCM + Magnum header
-2001 ACR w/SRT T/B bored out to 55mm

Official "I'm Going to Drive My Neon till it Dies" Club #000009

User avatar
Adionik
2GN Member
Posts: 2777
Joined: Mon Apr 02, 2007 1:37 am
Location: S.A

Post by Adionik » Wed Dec 02, 2009 4:50 pm

I know they rent this tool you used at Autozone, gonna try it this weekend.
dank(r/t) wrote:you tell 'em altezza light, black headlight cover guy!
you know what's up, it's obvious.
TheRandom1 wrote:Adionik, you're an asshole, we all know this.

darthroush
2GN Member
Posts: 1637
Joined: Tue Jul 14, 2009 2:14 am
Location: People's Republic of Kalifornia

Post by darthroush » Wed Dec 02, 2009 5:14 pm

Find a shop that will do it for a reasonable price. I paid $40 to have the old ones pressed out and the new ones pressed in and boot installed. Took them about 5-10 minutes to do both. Money well spent IMO. No screwing around with a tool, that no one had for rent up here anyways, for god knows how long.

User avatar
Adionik
2GN Member
Posts: 2777
Joined: Mon Apr 02, 2007 1:37 am
Location: S.A

Post by Adionik » Wed Dec 02, 2009 5:25 pm

darthroush wrote:Find a shop that will do it for a reasonable price. I paid $40 to have the old ones pressed out and the new ones pressed in and boot installed. Took them about 5-10 minutes to do both. Money well spent IMO. No screwing around with a tool, that no one had for rent up here anyways, for god knows how long.
They wanted about the same local. Except that I am beyond stretched for cash. That's $40 I need to spend on my GF's xmas presents :rofl:
dank(r/t) wrote:you tell 'em altezza light, black headlight cover guy!
you know what's up, it's obvious.
TheRandom1 wrote:Adionik, you're an asshole, we all know this.

darthroush
2GN Member
Posts: 1637
Joined: Tue Jul 14, 2009 2:14 am
Location: People's Republic of Kalifornia

Post by darthroush » Wed Dec 02, 2009 5:30 pm

LOL, I hear you on that. Worst case, I have the out that I bought all of the new LED Christmas lights this year. You have access to the tool though unlike me. Couldn't hurt to give it a go.

User avatar
Adionik
2GN Member
Posts: 2777
Joined: Mon Apr 02, 2007 1:37 am
Location: S.A

Post by Adionik » Wed Dec 02, 2009 5:32 pm

Well, I feel i'm a little better with my hands then when I first got the car...so I don't feel completely overwhelmed taking it on.

I also got my daily driver back up again (Which is actually the one that REALLY needs the ball joints) so I will have a working vehicle while the other is down.

The SXT needs new ball joints
The SRT needs new joints and prothane bushings sitting in my garage.

Fancy me...I get to do it twice :banghead:
dank(r/t) wrote:you tell 'em altezza light, black headlight cover guy!
you know what's up, it's obvious.
TheRandom1 wrote:Adionik, you're an asshole, we all know this.

User avatar
garfield3887
2GN Member
Posts: 156
Joined: Sun Aug 15, 2010 10:37 pm
Location: Kansas

Post by garfield3887 » Sun Apr 10, 2011 9:42 am

This is an awesome write up! As easy as it was aside from all the pulling, prying, and rust I had to deal with... I will gladly give my left nut to NEVER have to do this again myself! :owned:
I'm Going to Drive My Neon till it Dies Club #102

“I slept on it for 24 hours, ... and it made a lot of sense, so I agreed. Both of us then put our best pieces on the table, and we both found surprises. We took parts from both our engines, and we were able to increase our horsepower.” - Jack Roush

User avatar
NEON PARABOLA
2GN Member
Posts: 1079
Joined: Wed Jul 09, 2008 11:07 pm
Location: Omaha,Nebraska

Post by NEON PARABOLA » Tue Jul 31, 2012 12:30 pm

Going to attempt this this weekend. I have an electric impact wrench but only one jack and two jack stands. We shal see.. I'm friggin tired of waiting and they aint gonna install themselves...

I think what I will do is take the old castings, remove the old bushings/hardware, sandblast and powder coat them, then save for a moog bushing kit and re-install them. The ones I am replacing with are ebay specials and are nothing special and I dont know what to expect as far as longevity or quality of ride, so yeah thats my awesome plan
Image
-Sean
Official "I'm driving my neon till' it dies #28

BLK 03' NEON SXT 150,000 MILES

User avatar
NEON PARABOLA
2GN Member
Posts: 1079
Joined: Wed Jul 09, 2008 11:07 pm
Location: Omaha,Nebraska

Post by NEON PARABOLA » Sun Aug 05, 2012 2:21 pm

Just a side note, I used a bottle jack to push the ball joint up into the knuckle. You will want to secure the strut so it doesn't move outward when you start to jack the ball joint up. Mine slid in easily once I secured the strut assemble and knuckle into place :rockon:

make sure you pre-load the ball joint before tightening the bolt! I simply jacked the lca with a bottle jack, to a level height than I tightened the bolt. if you dont, you may bind and hear a nasty popping noise when turning.
Image
-Sean
Official "I'm driving my neon till' it dies #28

BLK 03' NEON SXT 150,000 MILES

fox02neon
2GN Member
Posts: 26
Joined: Wed Nov 01, 2006 7:33 pm
Location: Yakima WA

Post by fox02neon » Sun Mar 10, 2013 1:44 am

good write up thanks
foxo2neon

Post Reply

Return to “HT Chassis”