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Picture of Replacing Lower Ball joints, 94 Chevy 1500

Please understand the risks of working on a car. If you hurt or car, yourself, your pets, your children, or your property, i can take no responsibility as I am not there to school you on proper car maintenance.


This instructable is on how to replace the lower ball joints on a '94 Chevy 1500.  Some of the small details will be omitted like:  How to jack up a vehicle, or Remove the tire… If you don’t possess these simple skills, this job may not be for you.  It’s not uncommon to get some cuts and bruises while working on a car. However, some components like coil springs, Macpherson struts, and a falling car can kill you!   Be safe and do your best to use the right tool for the job!

 
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Step 1: Some tools required

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The tools shown below are all you should need...if you don’t run into any problems.  Inevitably, you will run into a problem, or you might like to use other tools to get the job done faster.  In addition to what you see here, I also had to use a 24” Breaker bar, a propane torch (good for stubborn Nuts/bolts) and a ratchet set to speed things along.

Step 2: Getting down to it

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When lifting your vehicle, give yourself plenty of room. The ball joint press will require a little more than a foot under the control arm.  I HIGHLY recommend the use of jack stands for this job, because there is a lot of pushing, pulling, and hammering.

Most cars I’ve done this to didn’t require the removal of the tie rod end or upper control arm unless i was replacing the upper ball joint as well. On this one, the upper ball joints are new so all I removed where the brakes.

Step 3: Ball joint removal 1

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1. Remove the cotter pin and ball joint nut.

2. Using the ball joint separator and a large hammer, separate the hub assembly from the lower control arm.

3. I used a cargo strap to hold the upper control arm, rotor, and hub assembly out of the way while working on the ball joint.

Step 4: The Workout!

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1. Use plenty of penetrating lubricant, if necessary heat with a propane torch for a little over a minute. Let cool to the touch and spray again.

2. Setup the ball joint press as instructed depending on the type of press your using. I got mine at harbor freight  for about $40.

3. The ball joint come up through the lower control arm. You will have to use the ball joint press to push the ball joint down and out into the lower cup of the press as shown. If the ball joint starts to come out crooked this will make your job a lot harder! Rotate the press to the other side to correct this. You will have to use a pry bar to hold the press in the opposite position.

Note: The ball joint will come out with a LOUD pop and some things may fall to the ground… No fear, the only thing you broke is the ball joints grip! There is also a rubber boot the goes on top of the ball joint to hold grease. mine was damaged when removing the ball joint but a new one comes with the new ball jont.

Step 5: The Reinstall

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If you can afford it, you will want to reinstall quality new parts so you only have to do the job once. I recommend Moog brand on all front end parts. If you don’t have that kind of coin, use nothing less than parts with life time warranties. This job cost me nothing because the last time I opted to pay the $5 extra saving me $60 this day!

1. Lightly tap the new joint in so it holds itself up and isn’t crooked.

2. Flip the press plate and receiver (Cup) on the press so it is the reverse of the removal position for re-installation. Instructions should be included with the press.

3. As with removal, if the ball joint becomes crooked rotate the press to the other side of the arm using a pry-bar to straighten.

Step 6: The End

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Last, reinstall everything in reverse order from removal.

Tighten your ball joint nut as far as you can (within reason) and install the new cotter pin.

Grease your new ball joints generously. I used about 20 pumps each, however that depends on the type of grease gun you’re using. If you skip this step you can look forward to do this all over again soon!

I also installed new brake pads while I was at it. They are also under warranty and were free!

zeron-793 years ago
its helping me out alot, ive got my top ones out (lots o drilling) and i was looking at the bottom wondering how the hell i do this.
eugeneb44 years ago
I've been looking all over for something that explains how to pull this ball joint. Isn't there a clip or something I have to remove before using the press?
I did mine. 1985 c2500 P/U 3/4 ton. The ball join separator was too small so I put the castle nut on loosely and use a jack to separate the ball joint from the spindle assembly. I smacked it a few time with a 4lb hammer and it popped lose. The upper control arm had allot of slack in it, like 1/8 inch or so so I tried to put an upper control arm bushing on and it was a nightmare to do. I ended up getting the whole upper control arm because it was just too hard to get the bushings back on and I couldn't find anything that showed me the trick to do it. I replaced the outer tie rod end while I was at it and when i put the wheel back on it was a whole 2 inches out. I marked the old tie rod end with paint and measured the difference and set the new tie rod end to match. i need to make find an instructable on how to replace that upper control arm bushing for the future
Very well done instructional, i came here looking for a refresher on doing ball joints, i dont really do many in the heavy equipment field and yours is very good.
Mikey D5 years ago
Hey Designed,

I learned a trick for removing ball joints, tie rod ends etc...  I know it sounds brutal but if you loosen the nut that holds the taper in place, take a sizable hammer (large ball peen or hand sledge) and wack the outside of the female taper (it usually takes 2-4 wacks), that taper will pop loose and you will not damage the boot with the pickle fork. 

Of course if you are replacing the joint it does not matter, but if you will be reinstalling the old one it is important.  This is quite the time saver and I heartely reccomend it.

Mikey
automd Mikey D5 years ago
Thanks for the suggestion mikey. I am planning on replacing the lower ball joints of my chevy and this would surely come in handy. I hope that I get it right the first time though.
designedforhell (author)  Mikey D5 years ago

I have used the hammering  method before, if your in a pinch yes it will work, but it doesn’t work all the time! Really old cars, big trucks, or rust and you will be beating on the ball joint all day and do nothing but putting dings all over the control arm. The press is only $40 USD and you can use it for breaks and universal joints as well, to me its money well spent.

The first time I did the ball joints on this truck years ago, I easily hammered one side out and when the other just wouldn’t hammer out… I got a press as a loner tool from  autozone ($120.00 deposit).

Too funny.

I've been teaching auto shop for 10 years now and have pressed out too many to remember.  I learnd the hammer trick not too long ago and have been overjoyed.  I've a 1 ton chevy that I will be replacing the front end suspension on and am now looking foward to trying it.

Different strokes.

Have a safe one!

Mikey
seanm29a5 years ago
Nice job.

I just wanted to add that in Canada at least many parts stores will lend out specialty tools like ball-joint presses for free.
Also, I second Mikey D's method of preserving the ball joint boots if you're re-using them.  I've found that putting a little downward pressure on the control arm while you're hammering helps too.
designedforhell (author)  seanm29a5 years ago
also, I used to start the ball joint in the hole, put a jack stand under the bottom of the ball joint and hammer down on the control arm to reinstall. It worked...
Why would you hammer them in? Stick them through and tighten the nut...
That seems like it could easily mess up the taper of the steering knuckle.
designedforhell (author)  seanm29a5 years ago
I'm talking about ball joints, not tie rod ends... Ball joints absolutely have to be pressed or hammered in like in the instructable,
Ohhhh, I misunderstood.  I thought you were talking about hammering the ball joint back into the steering knuckle after they had been installed in the control arm already. 
designedforhell (author)  seanm29a5 years ago

Ah yes, I had a 73’ Nova I did the ball joints on years ago, at the end I had used a 3’ 10lbs (0.9144m 4.5 kg) sledgehammer and ended up with a smaller lumpier version of what used to be ball joints.

NachoMahma5 years ago
.  Excellent iBle.
lemonie5 years ago
It's good to see a practical job well documented, I'm sure this will be helpful to people.

L