The ball joints are the suspension pivots at the outer (steering knuckle) ends of the upper and lower control arms.
- Place a jack under the lower control arm as close to the wheel as possible.
- Raise the car until there is 1-2 in. of clearance under the wheel.
- Insert a bar under the wheel and pry upward. If the wheel raises noticeably the ball joints are worn. Determine if the upper or lower ball joint is worn by visual inspection while prying on the wheel.
Due to the distribution of forces in the suspension, the lower ball joint is usually the defective joint. The manufacturer's limit for lower ball joint play, measured at the joint, is 0.030 in. This limit may not agree with your state's inspection regulations.
REMOVAL & INSTALLATION
- Raise the car by placing a jack stand under the lower control arm as close to the wheel as possible.
- Remove the nut that attaches the upper ball joint to the steering knuckle. Loosen the ball joint stud from the steering knuckle. Ball joint removal tools are available at auto parts stores and large mail order houses to press the ball joint out. Follow the manufacturer's directions for operating the tool. Never strike the ball joint stud.
- Unscrew the upper ball joint from the upper control arm and remove it from the vehicle.
- Position a new ball joint on the upper control arm and screw the joint into the arm. Be careful not to cross thread the joint in the arm. Torque to 125 ft. lbs.
- Position a new seal on the ball joint stud and install the seal in the ball joint making sure the seal is fully seated on the ball joint housing.
- Position the ball joint stud in the steering knuckle and install the retaining nut. Tighten the nut to 100 ft. lbs.
- Lubricate the ball joint.
- Lower the car.
- Remove the lower control arm rebound bumper.
- Raise the vehicle so that the front suspension drops to the downward limit of its travel. Position jackstands beneath the front frame for extra support.
- Remove the wheel and tire assembly.
- Remove the brake caliper from its mounts and tie it up out of the way so that there is no strain on the flexible brake hose.
- Remove the hub and rotor assembly, splash shield, and lower shock absorber mounting nut and bolt.
- Unload the torsion bar by rotating the adjusting bolt counterclockwise.
- Remove the upper ball joint stud cotter pin and nut. Use a ball joint removal tool to press the ball joint out. Never strike the ball joint stud.
- Press the ball joint out of the lower control arm.
- Press the new ball joint into the lower control arm.
- Place a new seal over the ball joint. Press the retainer portion of the seal down over the ball joint housing until it locks into position.
- Insert the ball joint stud through the opening in the knuckle arm and install the stud retaining nut. Tighten to 100 ft. lbs. Install the cotter pin and lubricate the ball joint.
- Load the torsion bar by rotating the adjusting bolt clockwise.
- Install the shock absorber nut and bolt, the splash shield, hub and rotor assembly, and brake caliper. Install the wheel and tire assembly.
- Adjust the front wheel bearings. Remove the jackstands and lower the car. Install the rebound bumper. Adjust the front suspension height and alignment.