GM Prizm/Nova 1985-1993 Repair Guide

Lower Ball Joint



Raise the front of the vehicle and safely support it on stands. Do not place stands under the control arms; the arms must hang free. Grasp the tire at the top and bottom and move the top of the tire through an in-and-out motion. Look for any horizontal motion in the steering knuckle relative to the control arm. Such motion is an indication of looseness within the ball joint. If the joint is checked while disconnected from the knuckle, it should have minimal or no freeplay and should not twist in its socket under finger pressure. Replace any joint showing looseness or free play.


See Figure 1

The use of the correct tools is REQUIRED for this procedure. A ball joint separator is a commonly available tool which prevents damage to the joint and knuckle. Do not attempt to separate the joint with hammers, prybars or similar tools.

  1. Elevate and safely support the front of the vehicle. Do not place the stands under the control arms; they must hang free.

Do not allow the driveshaft joints to over-extend. The CV joints can become disconnected under extreme extension.

  1. Install a protective cover over the CV boot.
  3. Remove the wheel.
  5. Remove the cotter pin from the ball joint nut.
  7. Loosen the castle nut but do not remove it. Unscrew it just to the top of the threads and install the ball joint separator. (GM Tool 34754 or equivalent) Use the nut to bear on the tool; this protects the threaded shaft from damage during removal.
  9. Use the separator to loosen the ball joint from the steering knuckle.

Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Fig. 1: Using the ball joint separator

  1. Remove the nuts and bolt holding the ball joint to the control arm.
  3. Remove the ball joint from the control arm and steering knuckle.
  5. When reinstalling, attach the ball joint to the control arm and tighten the 2 bolts and 1 nut to 105 ft. lbs. (Prizm) or 59 ft. lbs. (Nova).
  7. Carefully install the ball joint to the steering knuckle. Use a new castle nut and tighten it to 94 ft. lbs. (Prizm) or 82 ft. lbs. (Nova).
  9. Install the cotter pin through the castle nut and stud.
  11. Remove the protector from the CV boot.
  13. Install the wheel.
  15. Lower the vehicle to the ground.