ParkAvenue 1997-1999

Ball Joints

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Inspection



Specific to:

Buick LeSabre 1986-1999

Buick Park Avenue 1996-1999

Oldsmobile 88 1992-1999

Oldsmobile Delta 88 1986-1988

Oldsmobile LSS 1996-1999

Pontiac Bonneville 1987-1999

The ball joint has a visual wear indicator. Checking the condition of the ball joint is a simple procedure. The vehicle must be supported by the wheels during ball joint inspection to insure that the vehicle weight is properly loading the ball joints. Wear is indicated by a 0.50 in. (13mm) diameter nipple retracting into the ball joint cover (the ball joint grease fitting is threaded into this nipple). The nipple protrudes 0.050 in. (1.27mm) beyond the ball joint cover surface on a new, unworn joint. The ball joint should be replaced if the nipple for the grease fitting is flush or below the cover surface.

As part of the inspection, check the ball stud tightness in the knuckle boss. Check it by shaking the wheel and feeling for movement of the stud end or castellated nut at the knuckle boss. Checking the fastener tightness at the castellated nut is an alternate method of inspecting. A loose nut can indicate a bent stud or an "opened up" hole in the knuckle boss. If worn, the ball joint and knuckle must be replaced.

If, during suspension service, the ball joint is separated from the knuckle, inspect the ball joint seal for damage. A damaged seal will cause joint failure. If you find seal damage, you must replace the ball joint.



Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Inspection of the rear ball joint

Removal & Installation



Specific to:

Buick LeSabre 1986-1999

Buick Park Avenue 1996-1999

Oldsmobile 88 1992-1999

Oldsmobile Delta 88 1986-1988

Oldsmobile LSS 1996-1999

Pontiac Bonneville 1987-1999


CAUTION
The ball joint replacement is a dangerous procedure and requires the use of a special tools and cautions. If not certain of this procedure or if the proper tools aren't available, it is recommend you not perform this operation. Place a chain through the spring to help protect uncontrolled expansion.

  1. Raise and support the vehicle safely. Remove the tire and wheel assembly.
  2.  
  3. If equipped with ELC, remove the height sensor link from the right control arm.
  4.  
  5. If necessary, remove the parking brake cable retaining clip.
  6.  
  7. Remove the cotter pin and nut from the outer suspension adjustment link. Use a suitable puller to separate the outer suspension adjustment link from the knuckle
  8.  


CAUTION
The control arm MUST be supported to prevent the coil spring from forcing the control arm downward.

  1. Support the control arm with a suitable jack.
  2.  
  3. Remove the ball joint cotter pin and slotted nut. Discard the cotter pin. Turn the nut over and reinstall with the flat portion facing upward, but do NOT tighten the nut.
  4.  

Make sure to have the proper separating tool, because using the wrong tool will damage the ball joint or seal.

  1. Install ball joint separator J-34505, or equivalent tool, and separate the knuckle from the stud by backing off inverted nut against the tool. Remove the slotted hex nut.
  2.  
  3. Install the tools on the ball joint and control arm, as shown in the accompanying illustration, and press the ball joint out of the control arm.
  4.  



Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Replacing a rear ball joint requires the use of a number of special tools

To install:

  1. Install the tools all the ball joint and control arm, as shown in the accompanying figure, and press the new ball joint into control arm.
  2.  
  3. Position the knuckle on the ball joint. Install a new slotted nut and tighten as follows:
    1. Tighten the nut to 88 inch lbs. (10 Nm)
    2.  
    3. Tighten the nut an additional four flats; the torque should be 40 ft. lbs. (55 Nm) minimum. It may be necessary to partially load the joint to keep the ball joint from rotating while the nut is being tightened.
    4.  
    5. Tighten the nut up to one more flat to align the slot with the cotter pin hole.
    6.  

  4.  
  5. Align slot and install a NEW cotter pin. Never back nut off to align holes.
  6.  
  7. Install the adjustment link in the vehicle. Position the boot toward front of the vehicle. Tighten the slotted hex nut to 33 ft. lbs. (45 Nm).
  8.  
  9. After tightening the nut to specifications, align the slot in the nut to the cotter pin hole, by tightening ONLY, and install a new cotter pin. Do NOT loosen the nut to install the cotter pin.
  10.  
  11. Lubricate the ball joint and adjustment link with a suitable grease.
  12.  
  13. If equipped with ELC, install the height sensor link to the right control arm.
  14.  
  15. If removed, install the parking brake retaining clip to the left control arm.
  16.  
  17. Install the tire and wheel assembly, then carefully lower the vehicle. Tighten the wheel lug nuts to 100 ft. lbs. (136 Nm).
  18.  

 
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