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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Before the search went down, I have read quite a few threads about replacing front lower ball joints. I have also come across "replacing upper ball joints", and I was just curious if there was a write up about the lower ball joints with as much detail. Any ideas?

Thanks in advance.

*Note*

When I replace my front lower ball joints in a few weeks, I will post pics and a step by step write up for those "do it yourselfers". I know that there isn't much to replacing them, but there are a few that have little-to-no experience with ball joints. Therefore, when I do this, there will be many details.
 

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Why not just look at the online manual and get the whole thing explained that way?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
lude_rican said:
http://www.preludepower.com/forums/showthread.php?t=237111

oops sorry, thats the upper ball joints. my bad
That is ok, because I also have that thread bookmarked. As far as I know (not much sometimes), there isn't a write-up with pics on lower ball joint removal/replace. And I didn't even see anything in the online manuals so far. I am still doing some research.
 

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It just happens that I have changed these before on my 1990Si. More recently just a few days ago on my 91. The first time I changed the lowers the steering knuckle was still on the car. Its not impossible but was much easier this time around changing them with the knuckles off the car and in a vise. I am in the middle of a complete engine/suspension overhaul anyway. Either way you need a good sized hammer and a soft metal drift. I use an alluminum drift. About 3/4" in diameter about 1 ft. long and a baby sledge hammer with a short handle. Keep in mind this must be used in a controlled manner. It is worth taking the knuckle completely off otherwise you will be trying to strike it from the bottom fighting against gravity. Ideally a hydraulic press would be used. I don't have one. Its not that much more work to remove the knuckle. I'll try to keep it as short as possible. It is pretty straight forward and not difficult at all if you use the right set up and tools. As always the right tools and set up make all the difference in the world. If you don't have an illustration the lower ball joint is secured in with a snap ring. Remove via snap ring pliers. I'm assuming you already have the ball joint separated. If not you can use a narrow pickle fork. Again this is where the baby sledge makes the difference. A regular one pound hammer just doesn't cut it. It takes a good amount of blunt force to break these loose in most cases. Going back together with the uppers is no sweat. The lowers can be stubborn because they have a slight interference fit. Here is what I do to make it go quicker and easier. I've worked with a lot of interference fits in my job and I borrow some of the technique for that and apply it to this. Basically Heat one part and freeze the other. I put the ball joint in the freezer for about an hour to cold soak it. When you actually do this you have to work quickly. My garage is attached to my house so I can get from the freezer to my shop in the garage pretty fast. So I have the knuckle in the vise or still installed on the car, a frozen ball joint in the freezer. I use a propane or map gas torch to pre-heat the area of the knuckle where the ball joint is going to be installed. You don't want to get it red hot. You dont want to get the wheel bearing still in the knuckle too hot. If you can visualize about 300-350 degress that would be good. So you get the idea. Two people would be ideal. One to keep the heat up while the other goes and gets the frozen ball joint. Still can be done with one person. Just have to set it all up to not waste any time. I pre-heat. Go get the frozen joint. Torch still burning. I get to the knuckle with frozen joint in hand in a rag to keep my skin from warming it. I heat for about another 45 seconds more to get back to the point where I was before I went and got the frozen joint and drop the ball joint in. If you choose not to take this route then just put a film of grease on both parts and carefully pound it in. Like I said a hyd press would be best. Since I don't have a press the freeze and heat method is the next best method. Make sure you get the snap ring fully seated in the groove.

Said Pickle fork and Hammer

The pic below is only to illustrate the set up I had when I removed the old ones. If you are replacing the old ones this is one of several ways to remove them. Don't get a hammer anywhere near your new ones as shown in the pic. :eek:mg: Remove the white ring and the snap ring before you get crazy with the hammer. Be careful not to hit the dust guard. You can see in the pic the alluminum drift I used to help install the new ones.
 

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i would jsut take the parts to a shop and have them pressed in.

zero chance of messing something up and its pretty cheap if you do all the part removal yourself and just have them press the old joints out and the new ones in.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
That is quite a long write up "diamondsleeper", but honestly, is all of that really necessary? I have changed ball joints on a 1999 Plymouth Voyager, and there wasn't that many details involved. I used a press to remove them after I removed the lower control arm. Then, when I replaced them, I used lots of patience and muscle:wzbigcry: to get the new ones on, with the press of course. Even though I replaced those ball joints, the front suspension had compensated for the worn ball joints and a creeking sound came from the struts/surrounding area. On a side note, I did that job on Saturday only to trade that van in for a 2002 Ford Windstar Sport the next day :eek:mg:.

Anyway, I am sure that these new ball joints will cause me the same strain with the Prelude. The sad thing is, if these old ball joints are worn down too much, then there is a possiblity that I may have to replace some other suspension parts to compensate for the new ball joints.
 

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To answer your question. Is this all necessary? No. I offered this as one method of replacing them. There are plenty of others. This one was easiest for me with what I had at home that took the least amount of time with minimal chance for damage. I prefer not to have to pound heavily on something if I can avoid it. Just a habit I picked up from working on very expensive equipment at my job. The Heating and cooling does away with a lot of the "muscle" part of the job which can lead to damage in some cases. The press is the preferred method. A lot of times I've had to use a combination of the heating and cooling method along with a press because of very tight fits depending on what I was working on. I agree with Cadster that if its something someone is not comfortable with or equipped to do they should take it to someone who is.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Unfortunately, this job is going to be a lot of work. After taking a look and trying to plan a strategy, I now realize there is so much that has to be taken apart in order to remove/install the ball joints. I have even bought the Chilton manual on CD, and that doesn't give much detail.

With all of that being said, when I do replace my ball joints, I will be replace all of my front suspension and that will give me a better advantage at getting to my ball joints. All of my front suspension is original and has over 256,000 kms on all of it, so it is time for changes.
 

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Prelude of Red said:
Unfortunately, this job is going to be a lot of work.
not really. the front comes apart pretty easily... so does the rear (as a matter of fact)

i would not try an unassemble all the pieces, i would just unbolt the upper arm, the lower arm, and then pull the whole assembly out (a little more to it then that, you got the sway bar to undo, those front link arm things to unbolt and the brakes)

once its out you can then work with the joints on a bench, or garage floor.. or you could disassemble the pieces that needed new joints and have them pressed at a shop.

while its true, our cars have a lot of pieces (far more then some mcpheresion strut setup... five link rear on a FWD :eek:mg: .. got to love it), the pieces are really light and easy to work with.

of course taking all this apart should require an alignment (i would get one)
 

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If you are going to use a pickle fork and hammer to separate the joints its going to be easier in my opinion to do this while the assy. is still on the car. You more or less already have it in a vise if its still on the car. A solid point to strike against. Then just loosen the bolts and remove. I'm really only talking about to get to the point shown in the pic. Removing the steering knuckle. :)






New lower ball joint installed while off of the car and in a vise on the bench. You can see where someone previously got a little wild with a hammer and put some nice depressions in the metal surrounding the area. I acually had to do a little filing around the area of the snap ring because there was a lip keeping the new snap ring from seating in the goove all the way.
 

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diamondsleeper said:
If you are going to use a pickle fork and hammer to separate the joints its going to be easier in my opinion to do this while the assy. is still on the car. You more or less already have it in a vise if its still on the car. A solid point to strike against. Then just loosen the bolts and remove. I'm really only talking about to get to the point shown in the pic. Removing the steering knuckle. :)




New lower ball joint installed while off of the car and in a vise on the bench. You can see where someone previously go a little wild with a hammer and put some nice depressions in the metal surrounding the area. I acually had to do a little filing around the area of the snap ring because there was a lip keeping the new snap ring from seating in the goove all the way.
That looks so good! I think I'll do that myself. Maybe the weird noise I'm getting from the front passenger side wheel will fuck right off if I take everything apart and put it back together with new ball joints and such. I think it's the only problem I've had with my car that I haven't figured out yet. No, wait. My DRLs don't want to work anymore either. Ah shit.

--J
 

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diamondsleeper said:
If you are going to use a pickle fork and hammer to separate the joints its going to be easier in my opinion to do this while the assy. is still on the car. You more or less already have it in a vise if its still on the car. A solid point to strike against. Then just loosen the bolts and remove. I'm really only talking about to get to the point shown in the pic. Removing the steering knuckle. :)
hehe.. but im old.. bending over beating on that stuff is hard on my back. being on my knees to hit that stuff is also no fun.

having it at bench level was mucho easier for me.
 

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Copy that, If I would have had a puller type tie rod separator tool I may have also opted to do it at the bench. Since I already spent money on a pickle fork I decided to just use that. Besides I can get a little aggression out with that hammer.:devil: Either way my way is not a better way of doing it. I guess it comes down to a matter of personal preference and what tools and facillities you have to work with.
 

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My way of removing an outer tie rod end:

1. Jack car up and remove tire
2. loosen (just enough to break it free!) the nut up against the outer tie rod
3. dislodge outer tie rod end from knuckle (tie rod end puller if you want to re-use it or a pickle for if you're replacing)
4. unscrew the outer tie rod end
5. install is reverse of install

Here's a pic to illustrate the nut I'm referring to in step 2...the rest should be self explanatory. Just make sure to only loosen it enough to break it free so you can keep your alignment some what close (but you'll still want to get an alignment soon afterwards)

 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
All of that requires removal of the CV joints right? Like I said earlier, there is a lot of work to all of this, but it has to be done. Furthermore, because my car has quite a kilometres on her, replacing the front suspension with give her more longevity and make her more enjoyable to drive.

Lastly, I appreciate the pics and the help. I will take all of this information and use it when time comes to start replacing my front suspension. Thank you.
 
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