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Author Topic: Lower Ball Joint Replacement Procedure  (Read 12593 times)
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02 Z71
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« on: 11/24/06 10:17 PM »

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 Shocked
« Last Edit: 11/26/06 04:54 PM by 02 Z71 » Logged

Brian

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« Reply #1 on: 11/25/06 05:44 PM »

Job complete!   Woohoo!

I have updated the removal procedures and will post the installation procedures later. 

Too tired to do it now. Sigh
« Last Edit: 11/26/06 08:58 AM by 02 Z71 » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: 11/25/06 07:16 PM »

Cool you got it done yourself. Not a bad idea to have an alignment done after replacing front end parts. I know that some people will say the ball joint doesn't have any adjustments, but look at it this way..... When was the last time you had one done anyway? They're suggested approximately at 2 year intervals, unless parts replacement requires them sooner. Can't hurt.  Wink
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« Reply #3 on: 11/25/06 08:20 PM »

Cool you got it done yourself. Not a bad idea to have an alignment done after replacing front end parts.

Yes I am planning on getting an alignment done after I verify that the front end shimmy is gone.  It's been probably 3 yrs since I had an alignment done, but have had no signs of needing one. Roll Eyes

I also need to replace the sway bar end links because I had to cut the one off because I could not get if off.  Bolts were rusted in place and the top bolt was so small that I could not get anything on it to hold it. Another project for tomorrow.
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« Reply #4 on: 11/26/06 09:02 AM »

I just got done updating the removal procedures.  I will post the installation procedures later.

Off to Autozone to return the loaner tool and then to Advance to get some new stabilizer end links.
« Last Edit: 11/26/06 01:10 PM by 02 Z71 » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: 11/26/06 09:11 AM »

Glad to hear you got this fixed!!  Cool!

Thanks for the tips  love

Sam
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« Reply #6 on: 11/26/06 04:35 PM »

Lower Ball Joint Installation Procedures(2002 4x4 procedures listed)

1. Clean steering knuckle taper. Insert new ball joint stud into steering knuckle by and and check fit of studtaper to the knuckle. Stud should seat firmly without any rocking.  Only the threads of the stud should extend through the steering knuckle. If the parts do not meet these requirements either the steering knuckle is worn and needs replaced or incorrect parts are being used.
2. Using a suitable press, install lower ball joint into control arm squarely until the shoulder meets control arm.  Never exert press force on stud.  Never use a hammer to install ball joint.
3. Install snap ring into the groove on the ball joint. (This might not apply to your particular ball joint.)
4. Position the new dust boot over the stud of the ball joint with the words "MOUNT INBOARD" positioned away from the wheel(this is where excess grease will come out when lubing).  Press the new boot onto the ball joint using a suitable press tool.
5. Thoroughly clean the tapered hole of the steering knuckle.  Insert the stud of the new ball joint through the tapered hole of the knuckle and install the new slotted nut supplied.
6. Torque the slotted nut to 94 ft lbs (127Nm). Continue to tighten the slotted nut to the next available slot.  Install and spread the cotter pin.  Never back off the slotted nut to achieve alignment with the hole in the stud.
7.  Install grease fitting into the ball joint and lubricate with a good grade of grease. Ensure that you tighten the grease fitting to a point that will be accessable for greasing once the vehicle is fully reassembled. (in my vehicle the original grease fitting was facing the rear of the vehicle.)
8.Insert axle half shaft into wheel hub and torque the 6 drive shaft inboard flange bolts to 58 ft lbs (78Nm).
9. Install washer and axle nut and tighten to 155 ft lbs (210Nm).
10. Tighten the torsion bar adjustment  bolt the proper number of turns to obtain the previous vehicle height.
11. Reinstall the shock absorber and tighten to 59 ft lbs (80Nm).
12. Reinstall stabilizer link and tighten to 81 in lbs (10Nm).
13. Install the wheel and torque to O.E. specifications and lower vehicle.
14. Align front end of vehicle to specifications.

These are the procedures that were provided with the replacement ball joint which was manufactured for TRW.  Your actual procedures could vary, but this give you an idea of what is entailed.

The only additional tool that you will need for the installation that you did not have for removal will be a torque wrench and of course a grease gun.

Hopefully Sperry will chime in and correct anything that is incorrect or needs clarification. Tongue
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« Reply #7 on: 11/26/06 04:49 PM »

I was a little bit leary about the procedures for removing the axle half shaft, but it was actually relatively easy.

CV Half Shaft Removal Procedures:

Follow steps 1-6 of the ball joint removal procedures listed in post 1 of this post.

CV Half shaft Installation Procedures:

Follow steps 8-13 of the ball joint installation procedures listed in reply 6 above.
« Last Edit: 11/26/06 04:55 PM by 02 Z71 » Logged

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« Reply #8 on: 11/26/06 05:47 PM »

great writeup, thanks  thumbs_up thumbs_up
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« Reply #9 on: 11/26/06 07:47 PM »

Glad to hear you got this fixed!!  Cool!

Thanks for the tips  love

Sam

great writeup, thanks thumbs_up thumbs_up

Thanks guys! Cheesy

Hope someone can actually use these procedures in the future or a least not get blindsided on how complicated it will be.  I am used to replacing ball joints that were either riveted in or bolted in so this was quite a change. Shocked
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« Reply #10 on: 03/14/11 02:45 AM »

I am doing this job this week. i have set aside a couple days and a few friends and a mechanic incase anything goes wrong. The downside is i will be at my sisters house 150 miles away from home. I think it will be easier with other people there to help and keep me from destroying something with a framing hammer. Thanks for all the great write ups and photos, it makes the job less frieghtening. I have done complete suspension change outs on sports cars for years so this should not be to hard, just a little different.
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