I have developed a slight front end shimmy. My right front ball joint seal has been torn for some time, so it's time to replace it. I have replaced ball joints before on Chevy 4x4's but never one that was pressed in.
I started tearing into this job this afternoon and found out that it is more complicated than I had anticipated since the ball joint is pressed in. My total elapsed time to complete the job was about 8 hrs so leave yourself some time. I could have probably done it faster, but I cleaned and repainted all of the rusty parts that I found along the way.
Here are the procedures that were included with the ball joint (manufactured for TRW). Sorry but I didn't take any pictures since I was doing this at my friend's workshop and forgot to bring the camera.Lower Ball Joint Removal (2002 4x4 procedure listed)
1. Raise and support the vehicle under the frame and remove front wheel and tire assembly.
2. Disconnect shock absorber (21MM) and stabilizer link (17MM) from the lower control arm.
3. Relieve pressure on torsion bar by loosening torsion bar adjustment bolt (17 or 18mm). Count the number of turns to insure that the vehicle is returned to the previous height after re-assembly (I loosened mine 6 full turns).
Note: There may still be some tension on the torsion bar so a support should be placed under the control arm.
Place a drift or large screwdriver through the brake caliper into the vanes of the brake caliper to prevent it from turning and remove the axle nut. (I believe I used a 3/4" drive socket, if I remember correctly it was 1 1/8 this was very tight).
5. Remove the six bolts securing the inboard side of the axle half shaft inboard flange from the output shaft flange (15MM). Wrap a shop towel around the outer drive shaft bolt in order to avoid damage to the threads.
6. Remove drift or screwdriver fromthe rotor.
7. Lower inboard end of driveshaft and pull driveshaft straight out from the brake assembly.
8. Loosen the lock nut from the lower ball joint stud nut (21MM).
9. Using a suitable tool (I used a pickle fork or ball joint separating tool) (Note: never strike steering knuckle with a hammer). Separate the stud from the steering knuckle taper and remove the nut. Wire upper control arm assembly out of the way.
10. Use a chisel to remove 4 pressed in securing crimps from the ball joint body.
11. Using the suitable press, remove old ball joint. Examine ball joint contact area of the arm and make sure it is clean and free of cracks.Warning:
If any cracks are found control arm must be replaced.
Failure to replace a cracked or damaged control arm may cause loss of steering ability because the control arm may break and cause the wheel to separate from the vehicle.
Here are a couple of notes:
1. If you have never removed a ball joint before, getting the ball joint taper to separate is a difficult process. It took me about an hour of beating on the pickle fork to get the ball joint to separate.
2. The press that I used, I got as a loaner tool ($99 deposit) from Autozone, did not have the correct size sleeve for pressing out the ball joint. I used a 1 1/8" socket and the pressing tool to get mine out. Ensure that you do get all of the securing crimps off of the ball joint body or the ball joint will not come out.
3. As you can see from the procedures you need a large assortment of tools. Various 1/4, 3/8, 1/2 and 3/4" sockets were used to accomplish this job. You will also need long handled 1/2 and 3/4" drive ratchets for removing some of the nuts and bolts. Also a sharp chisel, various sized hammers for the chiseling and separating the ball joint from the steering knuckle.
4. My stabilizer link bolts were very rusted and could not be loosened, so I had to cut it to get it off.
So in conclusion have much patience and another vehicle available for tool and parts runs