How to Remove the Ball Joints with a Ball Joint Separator
Why include a ball joint separator in your tools? When you start hearing a knocking sound in the wheel as you try to steer, your vehicle's ball joints are most possibly worn-out already. Handling will become significantly poor and especially dangerous when you go on high-speeds. But taking off the old and worn ball joint can be a really difficult challenge if you don't have a ball joint separator, because ball joints are fitted extremely tight in the steering knuckle. Just when and how is a ball joint separator used?
Difficulty level: Moderate
What you'll need:
- Ball joint separator
- Pickle fork
- Tie rod separator
Step 1: Find a working area with a flat surface. This should ensure a safe way to put the vehicle on jack stands. Chock all two rear wheels on both front and back sides as well, so that the wheels won't unintentionally move.
Step 2: Inspect the ball joints. If it has the strut-style, use a pry-bar to check the wheel play, since the vehicle is already jacked up. But if your vehicle is equipped with control arm, you need to jack it up near the ball joint in order to inspect the wheel play. Any space between the ball joint and the point of contact or considerable wheel movement indicates worn ball joints.
Step 3: Remove the wheel assembly to gain access to the ball joint. You may also have to remove the brakes, depending on the steering assembly of your vehicle. If you needed to do the latter, secure them with a wire so that they don't hang from the brake lines. Also make adjustments with the control arm or sway bar should you require more room as you work.
Step 4: Apply a metal cleaner on the bolts in order to remove them more easily. Dirt and other road elements can actually make the task a little harder, and the cleaner should really help. Corroded parts, on the other hand, can be loosened by heating them with a torch.
Step 5: Pull the cotter pin, and make the castellated nut loose enough but still safe in place. A pinch bolt needs to also be removed if you are working with a McPherson strut.
Step 6: Now remove the ball joint with the aid of a ball joint separator. This tool is designed to guide the ball joint through the upper hole in the upper half of the steering knuckle. The fit can be too tight that you will have to hammer it, and use a pickle fork or tie rod separator to gain leverage.
Step 7: Remove the largest nut from the joint with a wrench. When the new nut is put in place, drive the pickle fork between the control arm and steering knuckle, and hammer it hard enough to get the ball joint. But before you hammer away, place the castellated nuts on to prevent the joint from falling.
Step 8: Remove the allen bolts and the control arm. It may require you to drill out rivets or loosen the bolts to get the ball joint free.