See Figure 1
Remember that mis-adjusted wheel bearings or worn control arm bushings can also produce symptoms similar to that of worn ball joints. If visual inspection shows the lower ball joints to be good, check these items next.
Wipe the joint clean of old grease and road crud, then check the seal to make sure it is not torn or cut. Visually check the wear indicator (the shoulder which the grease fitting is threaded into); if it is flush or inside the ball joint cover surface, replace the ball joint. If the indicator protrudes from the housing and the seal is intact, the joint is considered good. The joint must be replaced if the seal is damaged or if the indicator shows it to be worn past serviceability.
REMOVAL & INSTALLATION
See Figures 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9
The following procedure requires the use of the GM Ball Joint Remover (separator) tool No. J-23742 or equivalent, and the the GM Ball Joint Remover and Installer Set tool No. J-9519-E. The set includes a C-clamp like pressing tool and various fixture and driver adapters.
- Raise and support the front of the vehicle on jackstands.
- Remove the tire and wheel assembly.
- Place a floor jack under the spring seat of the lower control arm, then raise the jack to support the arm.
The floor jack MUST remain under the lower control arm, during the removal and installation procedures, to retain the arm and spring positions.
- Remove and discard the cotter pin from the lower ball joint stud, then remove the ball joint nut.
- Using the GM Ball Joint Remover tool No. J-23742 or equivalent, disconnect the lower ball joint from the steering knuckle.
- Pull the steering knuckle away from the lower control arm, place a block of wood between the frame and the upper control arm in order to hold the knuckle and hub assembly out of the way; make sure the brake hose is free of tension.
- Remove the rubber grease seal and the grease fitting from the lower ball joint.
- Remove the lower ball joint from the lower control arm using the ball joint remover set.
- Position the new lower ball joint into the lower control arm, then use the ball joint installer set to press the joint into the lower control arm.
- Install the grease fitting and the grease seal onto the lower ball joint; the grease seal MUST BE fully seated on the ball joint and the grease purge hole MUST face inboard.
- Remove the wooden block, then press the steering knuckle assembly onto the lower ball joint until is is fully seated.
- Install the ball joint-to-steering knuckle nut and tighten to 81 ft. lbs. (110 Nm) for 1985-92 vehicles, or to 90 ft. lbs. (125 Nm) on 1993-96 vehicles.
- Install a new cotter pin to the lower ball joint stud.
When installing the cotter pin through the lower ball joint-to-steering knuckle nut, if the hole is not clear, always tighten the castle nut additionally to expose the cotter pin hole. NEVER loosen the nut for alignment.
- Remove the floor jack.
- Using a grease gun, lubricate the lower ball joint.
- Check and adjust the wheel bearings and the front end alignment, as necessary.
- Remove the jackstands and carefully lower the vehicle.