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Old 04-26-2011, 10:57 PM   #1
Voluted
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Default DIY: Replace ball joints on your stock control arms (10ton or greater press required)

I often see people asking if the ball joints are replaceable on our control arms and the answer is YES.

For many, complete control arms ship for free and are reasonably priced. Since I live in Canada, shipping adds a considerable cost to this job. I sourced my Meyle and Lemforder ball joints from www.FCPGroton.com for much less than a new set of control arms. Or if you have the time and tools, why not save the money?

I will only cover how to remove and install the ball joints from the control arms, as removing/installing control arms from the vehicle is documented well elsewhere.

Tools:
- 12 ton shop press (I don't see how you could do this without access to one)
- Powerbuilt 23 Piece Ball Joint/U-Joint Service Set (Kit 46 or #648617)
- Hacksaw/Angle grinder with steel cutting wheel
- 1 1/16 or similar sized impact socket to press the old ball joints out
- 34mm impact socket (I used 1 1/16 since I had nothing else) to press the new ones in
- A marker


Removal

Start by marking the cutouts on the back side of the ball joints currently in the control arms. It is important that when you mount the new ball joints that they are placed in the exact orientation as the old joints.:



Mount the arms in a bench vise and cut the shafts of the ball joints down:


Remove the rubber boots using a flathead screwdriver and clean away the grease:




Sift through the ball joint service kit and find a cup larger than the bottom of the ball joint but smaller than the area on the arm to act as a receiver:




Using the appropriate receiver cup and the 1 1/16 socket (or similar), align everything on the press and begin to apply some pressure:

You should expect a loud POP as the ball joint is pressed away from the control arm. Continually check the rig and apply pressure gradually to make sure nothing is going to pop out of place and hit you in the nuts.

The end result:


Repeat the process for the inner joint.



Installation

Start by applying a little bit of lube into the empty ball joint sockets. I did this so that the boots of the new ball joints slide along as the ball joint is pressed in. Since they make contact with the metal, it is possible to damage them when pressing the new joints in without any lube. The lube doesn't aid the installation otherwise.

Find a receiver long enough to accommodate the length of the stud for the outer ball joint. Align the new ball joint's cutouts with the areas previously marked by your marker. Get the 34mm (or similar sized) socket to press the new ball joint in from the top using it's outer edge. This is where I used the 1 1/16 socket since I didn't have access to a larger piece. The assembly should look something like this:

MAKE SURE you align the new ball joint very well with the control arm. Pressing it in at an angle can damage the arm/ball joint and pressing it in misaligned will require you to remove it (and by doing so, likely destroy it).

The inner joint requires a slightly different approach. The receiver I had to use needed to by slightly smaller the the one used for the outer joint since there was less metal for it to sit on around the joint in that area. The stud of the ball joint is also very long. To press it in I positioned the two black plates that came with my press in such a way that allowed the stud to pass through the bottom while providing adequate support for the arm:

View from under the assembly:




All done, ready for mounting:


The hero:




My press cost me $125 locally, and the ball joint service kit was a loaner from my local parts store (Partsource). A 10 ton press should work fine as well for this job. I can't imagine a 5 ton press working without a lot of heat and prayer. These presses can also be used to press diff mounts, trailing arm bushings, subframe bushings, control arm bushings etc. If you have the space and work on cars a lot, get one of these for your garage!



***EDIT 2012***
- This method works well with OEM/Lemforder control arms, but not so well with Chinese control arms. I've found the Chinese made control arms have a slightly smaller diameter mounting for the ball joints which ends up applying a lot of pressure to a new ball joint being pressed in ultimately resulting in very stiff steering.

Last edited by Voluted : 01-28-2013 at 03:58 AM.
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Old 04-27-2011, 06:12 AM   #2
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nice write up I plan to takle this one shortly my old man has a 20tone press in the shed, the pro of having a retired mechanic as a dad

How many hours did you put into this diy project?
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Old 04-27-2011, 07:34 AM   #3
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Just make sure they are square before pressure, (push), folks. Nothing like trying to smash a ball joint into the receiver on a little angle! Smashy mashy!

You also don't need a press for removal, just inst. Grind the backs, Pop the pins out, cut the joint race remaining, and it will fall out with a little help.

Screw presses are cooler, but that is just my .02.
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Old 04-27-2011, 08:11 AM   #4
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My local machine shop will press them in for $10 each. So for about $60 in ball joints and $20 in machine shop work I can have a reman control arm for $80. Or I can buy new ones from Blunt for just over $100. I've done both but knowing how cool it is to have extra old parts laying around I have opted to buy the new ones lately and keep the old ones for spares.
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Old 04-27-2011, 09:51 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony B View Post
nice write up I plan to takle this one shortly my old man has a 20tone press in the shed, the pro of having a retired mechanic as a dad

How many hours did you put into this diy project?
About 2 and a half hours starting form the car on the floor to having the arms installed again. I'm sure it can be done much faster, but I took my sweet time with the first arm to make sure I wasn't going to ruin anything and to take some pictures. This job can likely be performed in about and hour provided you don't strip any bolts.

I have an m50 in the car if that matters, and i didn't need to remove the exhaust or sway bar to get at the inner ball joint nuts. I had enough room to get a 1/2" ratchet in there.

Last edited by Voluted : 04-27-2011 at 09:55 AM.
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Old 01-22-2013, 06:59 AM   #6
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THis thread needs new pics.
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Old 01-22-2013, 04:08 PM   #7
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If you need photos, you probably shouldn't be using a press.

That comment about stuff flying out with 10-20 tons of force behind it, and hitting you in the nuts? That's not a joke.
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Old 01-22-2013, 11:39 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlienBlood View Post
If you need photos, you probably shouldn't be using a press.

That comment about stuff flying out with 10-20 tons of force behind it, and hitting you in the nuts? That's not a joke.
I was referring to orientation of the ball joints in the arms, not the overall process. Sorry for the confusion.
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Old 01-28-2013, 03:58 AM   #9
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Updated.
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Old 01-28-2013, 04:34 AM   #10
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Brilliant!
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