How-To: Replace ball joint w/out removing LCA

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BoostinBen
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How-To: Replace ball joint w/out removing LCA

Post by BoostinBen » Sun Jul 10, 2011 10:14 pm

Things you will need: a rented ball-joint press (Advance Auto Parts rents them), assorted sockets, vice grips, blue loctite, cotter pins, torque wrench, flat-headed screwdriver, rubber mallet (or hammer and block of wood), grease gun (for packing zerg fittings with grease).

Step 1: Jack up car, put on jack stand(s) and remove front tire(s).

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Step 2: Remove hub-centric rings if necessary, and/or spacers. Remove spindle nut cotter pin, cap and spring. Take a screwdriver and put inside rotor as shown so it hits the caliper. Take a breaker-bar and break the spindle nut free.

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Step 3: Remove caliper bolts and set brake pads to the side. Take note of how the brake pads go back on.

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Step 4: Take a zip-tie and secure the caliper to the spring to keep it out of your way. Do not let it dangle by the brake line.

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Step 5: Remove strut bolts.

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If the bolts do not come out by hand, tap on them with a hammer (do not pound).

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Step 6: Remove caliper brace bolts and set caliper brace to the side.

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Step 7: Now the rotor is able to be removed, so do so and set it to the side as well.

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Step 8: Remove castle nut on the bottom of the tie-rod end, and use a pickle fork to remove tie-rod. Many times the tie-rod end will come out with a pull, or a tap with a rubber mallet.

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Step 9: Remove speed sensor.

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Step 10: Remove ball-joint pinch bolt. Sometimes this can also be stuck and will need a few taps with a hammer to break free.

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Step 11: Take rubber mallet and hit the end of the axle so it breaks free from the spindle. You can also use a hammer and a block of wood. Do not use a hammer only, or any other substantially hard material, to strike it with as you will probably end up damaging it.

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Step 12: Use the pickle fork to break the spindle/knuckle free from the ball joint. A carefully placed thick screwdriver will also work.

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Step 13: Spindle/knuckle is now free and can be set to the side.

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Step 14: Take flat-headed screwdriver, and remove the boot on the ball-joint.

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Ball-joint will now look like this with the boot removed.

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Step 15: Assemble the ball-joint press so it's set as shown. You want the receiving cup on the bottom, and just large enough to accept the ball-joint into it, but also small enough that it is secure on the LCA. Then you put the stability ring around the top of the ball joint, position the threaded clamp on the top of the ball-joint, and finally start torquing it down slowly. Make certain it remains straight. Depending on how old your ball-joints are, they may take a decent amount of torque to press out.

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Ball-joint will just fall out into the receiving cup where you can admire it.

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Step 16: Take some brake parts cleaner and a rag, and clean the inside of the hole where the ball-joint was to remove dirt and grim.

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Step 17: Take your replacement ball-joint (I used Moog units) and put it upwards into the LCA until it is held in there on its own.

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Step 18: Take the receiving cup and put it on top of the LCA where it will receive the ball-joint as it comes up through the LCA. Put the appropriate stability ring on the bottom and begin to slowly torque down on it so it presses it into the LCA. The press' instructions called for the clamp to be reversed from what is shown, but I found it much more roomy to torque it down from the top as opposed to the bottom. Again, make sure it's straight. This will take a decent amount of torque to press in, so either use a breaker bar or an impact gun.

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Step 19: Torque down on the press until the ball-joint base sits flush with the LCA.

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Step 20: Place snap ring into the groove of the ball-joint, then place the boot over the ball-joint so the arrow on it is pointing towards the engine.

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Reverse the above to re-install the knuckle/spindle as well as the brake parts. Make sure you torque to spec using the info below and use blue loctite. Also install new cotter pins and use the new, and supplied, pinch bolt.

Torque specs:
  • Ball-joint pinch bolt - 70 lb-ft
  • Caliper brace bots - 77 lb-ft
  • Caliper bolts - 27 lb-ft
  • Strut-tower bolts - 45 lb-ft
  • Spindle nut - 180 lb-ft
  • Tie-rod end castle nut - 55 lb-ft
  • Lug nuts - 90 lb-ft
Use a torque wrench to make certain of torque specs. Do not simply use an impact wrench and call it a day. Especially with the pinch bolt, over-tightening or under-tightening can be catastrophic.
'03 SRT-4 = 516 whp courtesy of Wiseco, Crower, DCR, AGP and TDS.
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Gnuserup
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Post by Gnuserup » Mon Jul 11, 2011 4:59 pm

great writeup and very good pictures :thumbup:

occasional demons
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Post by occasional demons » Thu Sep 29, 2011 11:36 pm

Just did this tonight. I removed the sway bar end links, rotated the sway bar down, removed the pinch bolts, and pried the LCA's down from the knuckle. I removed and supported the calipers. Then moved the strut/knuckle/halfshaft to the side. Pressed out/in ball joints and reassembled. Then reinstalled the sway endlinks.

I used the jack handle between the LCA and the knuckle to keep the knuckle out of the way.
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

cutsheal5
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Post by cutsheal5 » Mon Nov 07, 2011 1:33 pm

i usually dont remove the knuckle like that because it will mess up the alignment of the car i usually just turn it to the side and slide the driveshaft out then put a jackstand under the control arm and beat the ball joint out with a hammer works great though im liking the press might have to invest in one

occasional demons
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Posts: 19909
Joined: Thu May 03, 2007 12:14 pm
Location: Ashland Ohio

Post by occasional demons » Mon Nov 07, 2011 5:49 pm

I'm afraid to ask how you get the ball joint back in.
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

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