Nissan Sentra/Pulsar/NX 1982-1996 Repair Guide

Lower Ball Joint



The lower ball joint should be replaced when play becomes excessive. The manufacturer does not publish specifications on just what constitutes excessive play, relying instead on a method of determining the force (in inch lbs.) required to keep the ball joint turning. This method is not very helpful to the backyard mechanic since it involves removing the ball joint, which is what we are trying to avoid in the first place. An effective way to determine ball joint play is to jack up the car until the wheel is just a couple of inches (about 5 centimeters) off the ground and the ball joint is unloaded (meaning you can't jack directly underneath the ball joint). Place a long bar under the tire and move the wheel and tire assembly up and down. Keep one hand on top of the tire while you are doing this. If there is over 1 / 4 in. (6mm) of play at the top of the tire, the ball joint is probably bad. This is assuming that the wheel bearings are in good shape and properly adjusted. As a double check on this, have someone watch the ball joint while you move the tire up and down with the bar. If you can see considerable play, besides feeling play at the top of the wheel, the ball joint needs replacing.

Dial Indicator Method

See Figure 1

Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Fig. 1: Measuring the ball joint with a dial indicator

  1. Raise and safely support the vehicle.
  3. Clamp a dial indicator to the transverse link and place the tip of the dial on the lower edge of the brake caliper.
  5. Zero the indicator.
  7. Make sure the front wheels are facing straight-ahead and the brake pedal is fully depressed.
  9. Insert a long prybar between the transverse link and the inner rim of the wheel.
  11. Push down and release the prybar and observe the reading (deflection) on the dial indicator. Take several readings and use the maximum dial indicator deflection as the ball joint vertical end-play. Make sure to 0 the indicator after each reading. If the reading is not within specifications, replace the transverse link or the ball joint. Ball joint vertical end-play specifications are as follows:

    1983-88 Pulsar: 0.098 in. (2.5mm) or less
    1989-90 Pulsar: 0 in. (0mm)
    1982-96 Sentra: 0 in. (0mm)



On most late model vehicles, the transverse link (lower control arm) must be removed and then the ball joint pressed out. The ball joint should be greased every 30,000 miles (48,300km). There is a plugged hole in the bottom of the joint for installation of a grease fitting.

  1. Refer to the Drive Axle removal and installation procedures in Drive Train , and remove the drive axle.
  3. Remove the ball joint-to-control arm nut. Using Ball Joint Remover tool HT72520000 or equivalent, separate the ball joint from the control arm.
  5. Remove the other ball joint bolts from the control arm and the ball joint from the vehicle.

To install:
  1. Install the ball joint in the control arm and tighten the ball stud attaching nut (from ball joint-to-steering knuckle) to 40-51 ft. lbs. (54-69 Nm), and the ball joint to transverse link bolts to 40-47 ft. lbs. (54-64 Nm).
  3. Install the drive axle.