Chevrolet Full-size Cars 1968-1978 Repair Guide

Ball Joints

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INSPECTION





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Fig. Fig. 1 Lower ball joint wear indicator-1974 and later vehicles



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Fig. Fig. 2 Cross-section of the upper and lower ball joints

Before performing this inspection, make sure that the wheel bearings are adjusted correctly and that the control arm bushing are in good condition.

  1. Raise the vehicle by placing the jack under the lower control arm at the spring seat.
  2.  
  3. Raise the vehicle until there is a 1-2" clearance under the wheel.
  4.  
  5. Insert a bar under the wheel and pry upward. If the wheel raises more than 1 / 8 ", the ball joints are worn. Determine whether the upper or lower ball joint is worn by visual inspection while prying on the wheel.
  6.  

Due to the distribution of forces in the suspension, the lower ball joint is usually the defective joint. Because of this, 1974-78 vehicles are equipped with wear indicators on the lower ball joint. As long as the indicator extends below the ball stud seat, replacement is unnecessary.

UPPER BALL JOINT REPLACEMENT



1968-70 Vehicles
  1. Support the vehicle by placing a jack under the outer end of the lower control arm.
  2.  
  3. Remove the wheel and tire assembly.
  4.  
  5. Remove the cotter pin and nut from the stud.
  6.  
  7. Remove the stud from the steering knuckle.
  8.  
  9. Cut off the ball joint rivets with a chisel.
  10.  
  11. It may be necessary to enlarge the stud attaching holes in the control arm to accept the larger 5 / 16 " bolts. Inspect and clean the tapered hole in the steering knuckle. If the hole is damaged or deformed, the knuckle must be replaced.
  12.  
  13. Install the new joint and connect the stud to the steering knuckle. When installing the stud nut, never back off on the nut to align the cotter pin holes; always tighten the nut to the next hole.
  14.  
  15. Replacement ball joints may not include the lube fitting. If not, install a self-threading fitting into the tapped hole.
  16.  

1971-78 Vehicles


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Fig. Fig. 3 Use a 1/2 in. drill bit to remove the upper ball joint rivet heads-1971 and later vehicles



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Fig. Fig. 4 When installing the new upper ball joint, make sure to position the nuts on the top of the control arm-1971 and later vehicles

  1. Raise the vehicle and support it securely. Support the lower control arm securely. Remove the tire and wheel.
  2.  
  3. Remove the upper ball stud cotter pin and loosen the ball stud nut just one turn.
  4.  
  5. Locate the tool No. J-23742 between the upper and lower ball joints and press the joints out of the steering knuckle. Remove the tool.
  6.  
  7. Remove the ball joint stud nut, and separate the joint from the steering knuckle. Lift the upper arm up and place a block of wood between the frame and the arm to support it.
  8.  
  9. With the control arm in the raised position, drill a hole 1 / 4 " deep into each rivet. Use a 1 / 8 " drill bit.
  10.  
  11. Use a 1 / 2 " drill bit and drill off the heads of each rivet.
  12.  
  13. Punch out the rivet using a small punch and then remove the ball joint.
  14.  
  15. Install the new ball joint using fasteners that meet the same grade specification as the original bolts. Bolts should come in from the bottom with the nuts going on top. Torque to 10 ft. lbs.
  16.  
  17. Turn the ball stud cotter pin hole to the fore and aft position. Remove the block of wood from between the upper control arm and frame.
  18.  
  19. Clean and inspect the steering knuckle hole. Replace the steering knuckle if any out of roundness is noted.
  20.  
  21. Insert the ball joint stud into the steering knuckle then install and torque the stud nut to 60 ft. lbs. Install a new cotter pin. If nut must be turned to align cotter pin holes, tighten it further. Do not back off!
  22.  
  23. Install a lube fitting, and fill the joint with fresh grease.
  24.  
  25. Remove the lower control arm support and lower the vehicle.
  26.  

LOWER BALL JOINT REPLACEMENT



1968-70 Vehicles
  1. Raise the vehicle and support it securely. Support the lower control arm with a floor jack.
  2.  
  3. Remove the wheel. If the vehicle has disc brakes, remove the caliper assembly.
  4.  
  5. Remove the lower ball stud. Then, using a tool designed for such work, press the ball stud out of the steering knuckle. Wire the steering knuckle out of the way so you'll have more room.
  6.  
  7. Press the joint out of the control arm with a tool designed for that purpose.
  8.  
  9. Start the replacement joint into the control arm with the air vent in the rubber boot facing inboard.
  10.  
  11. Set the joint in the control arm, pressing it in with a tool designed for that purpose.
  12.  
  13. Install the stud into the steering knuckle, and install the attaching nut and new cotter pin.
  14.  
  15. Reinstall the caliper assembly (as necessary) and wheel remove the jack supporting the control arm, and lower the vehicle.
  16.  

1971-78 Vehicles


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Fig. Fig. 5 Disconnecting the lower ball joint



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Fig. Fig. 6 Pressing out the lower ball joint using a ball joint tool

On vehicles equipped with wear indicating ball joint, Chevrolet recommends replacement of both upper and lower ball joints even if only the lower ball joint is bad.

  1. Raise the vehicle and support it securely. Support the lower control arm with a jack.
  2.  
  3. Remove the lower ball stud cotter pin and loosen the ball stud nut just one turn.
  4.  
  5. Install the tool No. J-23742 between the two ball studs, and press the stud downward in the steering knuckle. Then, remove the stud nut.
  6.  
  7. Pull the tire outward and at the same time upward, with your hands on the bottom (of the tire), to free the steering knuckle from the ball stud. Then, remove the wheel.
  8.  
  9. Lift up on the upper control arm and place a block of wood between it and the frame. Be careful not to put any tension on the brake hose in doing this.
  10.  
  11. Press the ball joint out of the lower control arm with a tool made for that purpose. You may have to disconnect the tie rod at the steering knuckle to do this.
  12.  

To install:

  1. Position the new ball joint, with the vent in the rubber boot facing inward, onto the lower control arm. Press the joint fully into the control arm with the tool No. J-9519-10 and J-9519-9.
  2.  
  3. Turn the ball stud cotter pin hole so it is fore and aft.
  4.  
  5. Remove the block of wood holding the upper control arm out of the way, and inspect the tapered hole in the steering knuckle. Remove any dirt from the hole. If the hole is out of round or there is other noticeable damage, replace the entire steering knuckle.
  6.  
  7. Insert the ball joint stud into the steering knuckle, install the stud nut, and torque it to 83 ft. lbs. Install a new cotter pin, aligning cotter pin holes in the nut and stud only through further tightening. Do not loosen the nut from the torque position.
  8.  
  9. Install a lube fitting and lube the joint. Reconnect the tie rod (as necessary), install the wheel, remove the jack supporting the lower control arm and lower the vehicle.
  10.  

 
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