GM Chevy Mid-Size Cars 1964-1988 Repair Guide

Ball Joints

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INSPECTION



See Figures 1 and 2

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

  1. Raise the car by placing the jack under the lower control arm at the spring seat.
  2.  
  3. Continue raising the car until there is a 1-2 in. clearance under the wheel, then position a jackstand to support the lower control arm as close to the wheel as possible.
  4.  
  5. Insert a bar under the wheel and pry upward. If the wheel raises more than 1 / 8 in. 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 and later models are equipped with wear indicators on the lower ball joint. As long as the indicator (a1/2in. diameter nipple into which the grease fitting is threaded) extends below the ball stud seat, replacement is unnecessary.



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Fig. Fig. 1: Checking the ball joints for excessive play



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Fig. Fig. 2: Lower ball joint wear indicator-1974 and later vehicles

UPPER BALL JOINT REPLACEMENT



See Figure 3

1964-70 Vehicles
  1. Support the car using jackstands under the outer end of the lower control arms.
  2.  
  3. Remove the tire and wheel 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.  

To install:
  1. It may be necessary to enlarge the stud attaching holes in the control arm to accept the larger 5 / 16 in. bolts. Inspect and clean the tapered hole in the steering knuckle. If the hole is damaged or deformed, the knuckle must be replaced.
  2.  
  3. 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.
  4.  
  5. Replacement ball joints may not include the lube fitting. If not, install a self-threading fitting into the tapped hole.
  6.  
  7. Install the tire and wheel assembly.
  8.  
  9. Remove the jackstands and lower the vehicle.
  10.  



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Fig. Fig. 3: Steering knuckle cotter pin installation

1971 and Later

See Figures 4, 5 and 6

  1. Raise the vehicle and support it securely using jackstands under the lower control arms.
  2.  
  3. Remove the tire and wheel assembly.
  4.  
  5. Remove the upper ball stud cotter pin and loosen the ball stud nut just one turn.
  6.  
  7. Locate the tool No. J-23742 between the upper and lower ball joints, then press the upper joint free in the steering knuckle. Remove the tool.
  8.  
  9. 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.
  10.  



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Fig. Fig. 4: Start to drill the upper ball joint rivets using a 1/8 in. drill bit-1971 and later vehicles



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Fig. Fig. 5: Use a 1/2 in. drill bit to drill off the rivet heads-1971 and later vehicles

  1. With the control arm in the raised position, drill a hole 1 / 4 in. deep into each rivet. Use a 1 / 8 in. drill bit.
  2.  
  3. Next, use a 1 / 2 in. drill bit on each rivet to drill off the heads.
  4.  
  5. Drive out the rivet using a small punch, then remove the ball joint.
  6.  

To install:
  1. Install the new ball joint using the fasteners supplied with the kit. Bolts should come in from the bottom with the nuts going threaded from the top of the control arm. Torque the fasteners to the specification provided with the kit's instructions. If no specification was provided, tighten the bolts to 10-13 ft. lbs. (14-18 Nm).
  2.  
  3. 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.
  4.  
  5. Clean and inspect the steering knuckle hole. Replace the steering knuckle if any out of roundness is noted.
  6.  



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Fig. Fig. 6: When installing the new upper ball joints, make sure that the nuts are threaded from the top of the control arm-1971 and later vehicles

  1. Insert the ball joint stud into the steering knuckle then install and torque the stud nut to 60 ft. lbs. (81 Nm). Install a new cotter pin. If nut must be turned to align cotter pin holes, tighten it further. Do not back off the specified torque in order to insert the pin.
  2.  
  3. Install a lube fitting and fill the joint with fresh grease.
  4.  
  5. Install the tire and wheel assembly.
  6.  
  7. Remove the jackstands and carefully lower the vehicle.
  8.  

LOWER BALL JOINT REPLACEMENT



See Figures 7 and 8

1964-1970 Vehicles
  1. Raise the front of the vehicle and support it safely using jackstands under the frame. Position a floor jack under the lower control arm spring seat in order to retain spring compression and hold the control arm in position.
  2.  
  3. Remove the tire and wheel assembly. If the vehicle has disc brakes, remove the caliper assembly.
  4.  
  5. Remove the lower ball stud cotter pin and nut. 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.  

To install:
  1. Start the replacement joint into the control arm with the air vent in the rubber boot facing inboard.
  2.  
  3. Set the joint in the control arm, pressing it in with a suitable installer tool.
  4.  
  5. Install the stud into the steering knuckle, then install the attaching nut and a new cotter pin.
  6.  
  7. Reinstall the caliper assembly, if applicable.
  8.  
  9. Install the tire and wheel assembly.
  10.  
  11. Remove the supports and carefully lower the vehicle.
  12.  



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Fig. Fig. 7: Use a tool, such as J-23742, to loosen the ball joint from the steering knuckle



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Fig. Fig. 8: Tools are available to press the ball joint from the lower control arm

1971 and Later

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

  1. Raise the front of the vehicle and support it safely using jackstands under the frame. Position a floor jack under the lower control arm spring seat in order to retain spring compression and hold the control arm in position.
  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. With your hands on the bottom of the tire, pull the tire outward and, at the same time, upward, in order to free the steering knuckle from the ball stud. Then, remove the tire and wheel assembly.
  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 while 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 for clearance to do this.
  12.  

To install:
  1. Position the new ball joint onto the control arm with the vent in the rubber boot facing inward. Press the joint fully into the control arm with the tool No. J-9519-10 and J-9519-9, or equivalents.
  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, then install the stud nut and torque it to 83 ft. lbs. (112 Nm). Install a new cotter pin, aligning cotter pin holes in the nut and stud only through further tightening. If necessary, tighten the nut additionally in order to insert the cotter pin, but DO NOT loosen the nut from the torque position.
  8.  
  9. Install a lube fitting and lube the joint.
  10.  
  11. Reconnect the tie rod, if disconnected for access.
  12.  
  13. Install the tire and wheel assembly
  14.  
  15. Remove the jackstands, then carefully lower the vehicle.
  16.  

 
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