GM Full Size Vans 1967-1986 Repair Guide

Ball Joints

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INSPECTION



See Figure 1



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Fig. Fig. 1: Checking the play of the lower ball joint

Excessive ball joint wear will usually show up as wear on the inside of the front tires. Don't jump to conclusions; front end misalignment can give the same symptom. The lower ball joint gets the most wear due to the distribution of suspension load. The wear limits given are the manufacturer's recommendation; they may not agree with your state's inspection law.

Upper
  1. Raise and support the van so that the control arms hang free.
  2.  
  3. Remove the wheel.
  4.  
  5. Support the lower control arm with a jackstand and disconnect the upper ball stud from the steering knuckle.
  6.  
  7. On 1971 models, reinstall the nut on the ball stud and measure the torque required to rotate the stud. If it is not within 12-120 inch lbs. (1-13 Nm), replace the joint.
  8.  
  9. On 1972 and later models, the upper ball joint is spring loaded in its socket. If it has any perceptible lateral shake or can be twisted in its socket, it should be replaced.
  10.  
  11. If there are no defects, connect the steering knuckle to the upper stud and torque the nut to 50 ft. lbs. (67 Nm) or 90 ft. lbs. (122 Nm) for G-30 and 3500 models. Tighten the nut further to install the cotter pin but don't exceed 90 ft. lbs. (122 Nm) or 130 ft. lbs. (176 Nm) for G-30 and 3500 models.
  12.  

Lower
  1. Support the weight of the control arm at the wheel hub.
  2.  
  3. Measure the distance between the tip of the ball joint stud and the grease fitting below the ball joint.
  4.  
  5. Move the support to the control arm and allow the hub and drum to hang free. Measure the distance again. If the variation between the 2 measurements exceeds 3 / 32 in. (2.38mm) the ball joint should be replaced.
  6.  

REMOVAL & INSTALLATION



Upper
  1. Raise and support the van.
  2.  
  3. Support the lower control arm with a floor jack.
  4.  
  5. Remove the cotter pin from the upper ball stud and loosen, buy do not remove, the stud nut.
  6.  
  7. Using a ball joint stud removal tool, loosen the ball stud in the steering knuckle. When the stud is loose, remove the tool and the stud nut. It may be necessary to remove the brake caliper and wire it to the frame to gain clearance. Do not allow the caliper to hang by the brake hose.
  8.  
  9. Drill out the rivets. Remove the ball joint assembly.
  10.  

To install:
  1. Install the service ball joint, using the nuts supplied. Torque the nuts to 45 ft. lbs. (61 Nm).
  2.  
  3. Torque the ball stud nut as follows: 10 and 1500 Series: 50 ft. lbs. (67 Nm) plus the additional torque to align the cotter pin. Do not exceed 90 ft. lbs. (122 Nm) and never back the nut off to align the pin. 20, 2500, 30, 3500 Series: 90 ft. lbs. (122 Nm) plus additional torque necessary to align the cotter pin. Do not exceed 130 ft. lbs. (176 Nm) and never back off the nut to align the pin.
  4.  
  5. Install a new cotter pin.
  6.  
  7. Install a new lube fitting and lubricate the new joint.
  8.  
  9. If removed, install the brake caliper.
  10.  
  11. Install the tire and lower the van.
  12.  

Lower
  1. Raise and support the van. Support the lower control arm with a floor jack.
  2.  
  3. Remove the tire and wheel.
  4.  
  5. Remove the lower stud cotter pin and loosen, but do not remove, the stud nut.
  6.  
  7. Loosen the ball joint with a ball joint stud removal tool. It may be necessary to remove the brake caliper and wire it to the frame to gain enough clearance.
  8.  
  9. When the stud is loose, remove the tool and ball stud nut.
  10.  
  11. Install a spring compressor on the coil spring for safety.
  12.  
  13. Pull the brake disc and knuckle assembly up and off the ball stud and support the upper arm with a block of wood.
  14.  
  15. Remove the ball joint from the control arm with a ball joint tool. It must be pressed out.
  16.  

To install:
  1. Start the new ball joint into the control arm. Position the bleed vent in the rubber boot facing inward.
  2.  
  3. Seat the ball joint in the lower control arm. It must be pressed in.
  4.  
  5. Lower the upper arm and match the steering knuckle to the lower ball stud.
  6.  
  7. Install the brake caliper, if removed.
  8.  
  9. Install the ball stud nut and torque it to 80-100 ft. lbs. (108-135 Nm) plug the additional torque necessary to align the cotter pin hole. Do not exceed 130 ft. lbs. (176 Nm) or back the nut off the align the holes with the pin.
  10.  
  11. Install a new lube fitting and lubricate the new joint.
  12.  
  13. Install the tire and wheel.
  14.  
  15. Lower the van.
  16.  

 
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