See Figure 1
Before performing this inspection, make sure that the wheel bearings are adjusted correctly and that the control arm bushings are in good condition.
- Raise the car by placing the jack under the lower control arm at the spring seat.
- Raise the car until there is a 1-2 in. clearance under the wheel.
- 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.
Due to the distribution of forces in the suspension, the lower ball joint is usually the defective joint. Because of this, 1974 and later Firebirds 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 1967-70 Models
- Support the car by placing a jack under the outer end of the lower control arm.
- Remove the wheel and tire assembly.
- Remove the cotter pin and nut from the stud.
- Remove the stud from the steering knuckle.
- Cut off the ball joint rivets with a chisel.
- 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.
- 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.
- Replacement ball joints may not include the lube fitting. If not, install a self-threading fitting into the tapped hole.
See Figures 2, 3 and 4
- Raise the vehicle and support securely. Support the lower control arm securely. Remove the tire and wheel.
- Remove the upper ball stud cotter pin and loosen the ball stud nut just one turn.
- Procure a special tool designed to press out 1971 and later Pontiac ball joints. Locate the tool between upper and lower ball joints and press the joints out of the steering knuckle. Remove the tool.
- 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.
- 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.
- Use a 1 / 2 in. drill bit and drill off the heads of each rivet.
- Punch out the rivets using a small punch and remove the ball joint.
- Install the new ball joint using fasteners that meet Pontiac specifications. Bolts should come in from the bottom with the nuts going on top. Tighten to 10 ft. lbs.
- 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.
- Clean and inspect the steering knuckle hole. Replace the steering knuckle if any out-of-roundness is noted.
- Insert the ball stud into the steering knuckle, and install and tighten the stud nut to 60 ft. lbs. Install a new cotter pin. If the nut must be turned to align the cotter pin holes, tighten it further. Do not back off!
- Install a lube fitting, and fill the joint with fresh grease.
- Remove the lower control arm support and lower the car.
LOWER BALL JOINT REPLACEMENT 1967-70 Models
- Raise the car and support securely on jackstands. Support the lower control arm with a floor jack.
- Remove the wheel. If the vehicle has disc brakes, remove the caliper assembly.
- 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.
- Press the joint out of the control arm with a tool designed for that purpose.
- Start the replacement joint into the control arm with the air vent in the rubber boot facing inboard.
- Set the joint in the control arm, pressing it in with a tool designed for that purpose.
- Install the stud into the steering knuckle, and install the attaching nut and new cotter pin.
- Reinstall the caliper assembly (as necessary) and wheel, remove the jack supporting the control arm, and lower the car.
See Figures 5 and 6
On Firebirds equipped with the wear indicating ball joint, Pontiac recommends replacement of both upper and lower ball joints even if only the lower ball joint is bad.<