Lower Control Arm Ball Joint

Discussion in 'Dodge Nitro Knowledge Base' started by Nitrogen, Aug 15, 2015.

  1. Nitrogen

    Nitrogen Well-Known Member NOTM Winner!

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    just replaced lower control arm ball joints and this is how i did it ( DIY style ).
    unbolt and release upper control arm ball joint.
    unbolt and release steering tie-rod end ball joint.
    unbolt and release lower control arm ball joint.
    move the hub assembly to one side and support on something suitable, i used an axelstand, keep it as high as possible and don't put any strain on the flexible brake hose. getting the hub off the lower ball joint is a little tricky but once you find the correct position is will come away.
    use a pulley removal tool and a large socket to remove the ball joint. the top of the collar is bent over in two places, using a hammer and chisel bend these two areas back so they are straight, spray with some WD40
    2 new ball joints
    find a length of steel tube which is slightly bigger than the ball joint rubber boot, and slightly longer than the threaded shaft, lightly grease the leading edge of the new ball joint.
    use the puller again from the Underside, press the new ball joint in place ( i had to jack the control arm up a little to get the puller in place).
    then bend over the collar in two places using a hammer and chisel.
    refit hub, bolt up the upper and lower ball joint nuts and the steering tie-rod nut and tighten to the correct torque setting.( oh and don't forget to fit the road Wheel ).
     
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  2. Routs

    Routs Active Member

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    Really nice write up! Were you experiencing any kind of issues or symptoms that lead you to change these, or was this just preventative maintenance?

    I haven't driven my Nitro much this summer but seem to recall a slight knocking sound over bumps. Need to check further into this. Thought it might be a tie rod but wondering if I should check these as well.
     
  3. Nitrogen

    Nitrogen Well-Known Member NOTM Winner!

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    Hi Routs, i did check them before i ordered new ones, they had quite alot of play in them, and the cluncking sound when going over bumps, they where badly worn. i still have a slightly similar sound coming from the rear, couldn't hear it before because of the cluncking at the front, not sure what that could be.
     
  4. Scar0

    Scar0 Khaki Nitro Nut NOTM Winner!

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    Well done Nitrogen! Could you post the torque Specs for those without a SM?
     
  5. Nitrogen

    Nitrogen Well-Known Member NOTM Winner!

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    Torque wrench settings are,

    Upper control arm ball joint nut: 41 N.m ( 30 Ft. lbs ) plus rotate nut an additional 90°.

    Lower control arm ball joint nut: 54 N.m ( 40 Ft. lbs ) plus rotate nut an additional 90°.

    Steering tie-rod end ball joint : 41 N.m ( 30 Ft. lbs ) plus rotate nut an additional 90°.

    Road Wheel lug nuts: 130 N.m ( 95 Ft. lbs ).
     
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  6. roady42

    roady42 New Member

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    What diameter of pipe is the install tool made of?
    Muffler pipe work?
     
  7. Tim

    Tim New Member

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    Did you have any trouble separating the upper control arm ball joint bolt from the wheel assembly?

    I recently bought a fixer-upper 2008 Nitro SXT and the previous owner told me it needed lower ball joints. This isn't a primary vehicle for me - it's just something to experiment with (I'm a DYI'r as well). So, I figured I'd give this a shot, but didn't get very far since I couldn't get the upper ball joint bolt released (no matter how much penetration oil I used). Is there a trick to releasing it - may need to have the wheel jacked up a certain way, or tap something a hammer, or pry it somewhere with a crowbar?
     
  8. Scar0

    Scar0 Khaki Nitro Nut NOTM Winner!

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    Welcome to the forum Tim. [​IMG]
    When you have a chance, head over to the Newbie Section and say "Hi".
    Tell us a little about yourself and your ride.
    That way we can welcome you all proper like.

    Are you talking about separating the upper ball joint taper from the steering knuckle? If so, jack up the rig, loosen the nut part way, then use a hammer to hit the flat part of the knuckle(next to the taper, smack it sideways). The spring tension will pop the joint loose. Then jack under the lower A-arm to take the spring tension off the nut and remove the nut.
    If you are having problems loosening the nut, use a star socket to hold the bolt from below and an open end wrench to turn the nut.
     
  9. Tim

    Tim New Member

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    Hi Scar0, I'm referring to the bolt coming out of the ball joint in the very first picture in this post. I got the nut off it fine, but the bolt would not budge out of the "knuckle" I guess (might not be the right term - I'm a DYI guy, not a mechanic). I didn't have to hold the bottom of the bolt to remove the nut.

    However I removed the tie-rod end ball joint just fine - but did have to hold the end of the bolt while I turned the but with a wrench.

    This makes me think the upper ball joint bolt must be seized, or there's enough pressure on it that the bolt didn't turn while I removed the nut.

    I'll give it another try this weekend, and try your hammer trick.
     
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  10. Tim

    Tim New Member

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    I meant to say "bolt" - not "but"
     
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  11. Scar0

    Scar0 Khaki Nitro Nut NOTM Winner!

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    OK, the hammer trick will pop that joint loose. It is actually just a taper inside the knuckle, no threads in there.
    Just be sure the smack the flat part of the knuckle not the round part. You will see it when you are in there.
    Remember to leave the nut on the end (like in the Pic) when you smack it. Or you could damage things you don't want to.
    Oh, and stand clear of the suspension parts. :eek: :rolleyes: :D
     
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  12. Tim

    Tim New Member

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    So I tried the hammer tap on the upper control arm and it work!

    However, I could not manage to get the lower ball joint free from the wheel hub. No matter what angle I twisted and turn the wheel hub, I still seemed to have about an inch of the ball joint bolt stuck within the wheel hub.

    Just to be clear, you do not have to remove the wheel hub from the axle, correct?
     
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  13. Nitrogen

    Nitrogen Well-Known Member NOTM Winner!

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    don't remember what size tube i used but it was just big enough to pass over the rubber boot on the ball joint.

    No didn't remove the hub, but i do remember having the same problem, i just kept trying in all directions and it came out, i think once the knuckle was so far out i pulled the hub outwards which gave a little more room.

    don't give up it does come out.
     
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  14. Tim

    Tim New Member

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    So I gave it another shot, and got the lower ball joint bolt free from the wheel hub, unfortunately I got stuck on the next step with removing the old ball joint. I live in the "salt belt" and that ball joint is completely seized to the control arm. I bought a ball joint press but the included adapters didn't quite fit what I needed. Unfortunately I didn't have any various diameter pipe lying around to make my own adapters, so I was faced with making the decision of investing more money and time to try and do it myself, or putting it back together, returning the ball joint press and having a professional do it for me. I hate to do it, but I'm going with the 2nd option. So, tomorrow I start making a few phone calls to get some pricing quotes...
     
  15. Tim

    Tim New Member

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    So my mechanic wanted to remove the wheel hubs to do the ball joints - but my axle nuts are crazy rusty - and because of that he said I might need to repair/replace the front CV shafts (since it doesn't look like there are any threads left on the axle ends). So - I figured I'd give this one more try myself and re-bought the ball joint press, and SUCCESS! I did it.


    The kit I bought only had basic adapters, but I managed with what I had. I ended up having to remove the boots off the ball joints - but stuck them back on afterwards with some RTV sealant.

    Job completed- thanks everyone for all the help.

    And to answer the question about using muffler pipe as an adapter - NO, it doesn't work. I tried, and wasted $8 on a piece of pipe that squished under pressure.
     
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  16. Nitrogen

    Nitrogen Well-Known Member NOTM Winner!

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    Well done Tim, glad you got tere in the end.
     
  17. KansasNitro

    KansasNitro Active Member NOTM Winner!

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    Great write up Tim!
     
  18. Tony Baltimore

    Tony Baltimore New Member

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    For the lower ball joint can you use a napa replacement ball joint with a c-clip or do I have to use a dealer ball joint with the tabs
     
  19. KansasNitro

    KansasNitro Active Member NOTM Winner!

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    I'd stick with the OEM set up Tony. Just to be on the safe side.
     

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