AMC Coupes/Sedans/Wagons 1975-1988 Repair Information

Ball Joints

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INSPECTION - Except Pacer



Be sure that the front wheel bearings are adjusted to specification before checking the upper ball joint.

  1. Jack up the front of the car and place jackstands under the frame side sills.
  2.  

The control arms must hang free if an accurate reading is to be obtained.

  1. Check the lower ball joints by grasping the lower portion of the wheel and pulling it in and out.
  2.  
  3. If there is noticeable lateral free-play, the lower ball joint is worn and must be replaced.
  4.  

The lower ball joints and control arms must be replaced as assemblies on Eagles.

  1. To check the condition of the upper ball joint, place a dial indicator with its plunger against the tire scrub bead (just outside the whitewall).
  2.  
  3. Move the upper portion of the wheel and tire toward the car's center, while watching the dial indicator.
  4.  
  5. Move the wheel and tire back out while watching the indicator.
  6.  
  7. The upper ball joint should be replaced it is total movement is greater than 0.160 in. (4.06mm).
  8.  

The upper ball joints and control arms must be replaced as assemblies on 1980 Eagles. On 1981 and later Eagles the upper ball joints are replaceable separately.

Pacer

  1. Check that the front wheel bearings are adjusted properly.
  2.  
  3. Remove the lubrication plug from the lower ball joints. Insert a piece of stiff wire until it contacts the ball. Mark the wire even with the edge of the plug hole.
  4.  
  5. Measure from the end of the wire to the mark. If it exceeds 7 / 16 in. (11.11mm), the ball joint should be replaced.
  6.  
  7. Place a jack under the lower control arm and lift the wheel off the floor.
  8.  
  9. Push the top of the tire in and out. If there is any looseness, replace the upper ball joint.
  10.  
  11. Pry the upper control arm up and down. If there is any looseness, replace the upper ball joint.
  12.  

REMOVAL & INSTALLATION



On Eagles, do not attempt to replace the ball joints separately. If the ball joints are worn, the control arms and ball joints must be replaced as complete assemblies.

Lower Ball Joint

  1. On all vehicles except Pacer, place a 2 in X 4 in. X 5 in. (51mm X 102mm X 127mm) block of wood on the side sill so that it supports the control arm.
  2.  
  3. Jack up the front end of the car and place jackstands underneath the frame side sills to support the body.
  4.  
  5. Remove the wheel and the brake drum. On cars equipped with disc brakes, remove the caliper and rotor.
  6.  
  7. Disconnect the lower control arm strut rod, on models other than Pacer. Disconnect the stabilizer bar, if so equipped.
  8.  
  9. Separate the steering arm from the steering knuckle.
  10.  
  11. Remove the ball stud retaining nut, after removing its cotter pin.
  12.  
  13. Install a ball joint removal tool then loosen the ball stud in the knuckle pin. Leave the tool in place on the stud.
  14.  
  15. Place a jackstand under the lower control arm.
  16.  
  17. Chisel the heads off the rivets which secure the ball joint to the control arm. Use a punch to remove the rivets.
  18.  
  19. Remove the tool from the ball stud.
  20.  
  21. Remove the ball stud from the knuckle pin and remove the joint from the control arm.
  22.  

To install:
  1. Position the new ball joint so that its securing holes align with the rivet holes in the control arm.
  2.  
  3. Install the special 5 / 16 in. bolts, used to secure the ball joint, loosely.
  4.  


CAUTION
Use only the hardened5/16in. bolts supplied with the ball joint replacement kit; standard bolts are not strong enough.

  1. Install the steering strut and stop on the lower control arm. Tighten their bolts to 75 ft. lbs.
  2.  
  3. Tighten the 5 / 16 in. ball joint securing bolts to 25 ft. lbs.
  4.  
  5. Apply chassis grease to the steering stops and fit the knuckle pin and retaining nut on the ball stud; tighten the nut to 40 ft. lbs. through 1976, 75 ft. lbs. through 1976, 75 ft. lbs. thereafter, and 75 ft. lbs. on all Pacers. Install a new cotter pin.
  6.  
  7. Complete the installation procedure in the reverse order of removal and then check front end alignment.
  8.  

Upper Ball Joint

  1. Perform Steps 1-3 of the lower ball joint removal procedure in this section.
  2.  

It is not necessary to remove the brake drum in Step 3. On 1981 and later Eagle models temporarily reinstall two lug nuts to retain each brake rotor. This eliminates repositioning rotors and calipers prior to reassembly.

  1. News, perform Steps 6-9 of the lower ball joint removal procedure to the upper ball joint.
  2.  
  3. Separate the upper ball joint from the knuckle pin.
  4.  

To install:
  1. Perform Steps 1-2 of the lower ball joint installation procedure.
  2.  
  3. Skip Step 3 and go on to Steps 4-5 of the lower ball joint installation procedure.
  4.  
  5. Complete the installation in the reverse order of removal and check front end alignment.
  6.  

 
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