Ball Joint Press Use and Ball Joint Types
By Dennis Bandy Copyright ©
Pressed Ball Joints that are held in place by being pressed into a machine fitted hole in the control arm. The picture shows a ball joint press being used on this type of ball joint.
We chose a 2002 PT Cruiser for this article, however this procedure is very similar on many other vehicles with pressed in ball joints. The manufacturers torque specifications should be used from a service manual. Here is a brief overview on how this job is performed.
First raise the car, remove the wheel, remove and support the brake caliper and slide the rotor off. Then take the CV axle nut off, ball joint bolt, detach the tie rod end & lower strut bolts, this allows movement to place the steering knuckle completely out of the way.
Then remove the old ball joint by striking it with a hammer or by using a ball joint press. Using the OTC 7249 or the AP7865 like in the YouTube Video at the bottom of this page, or similar ball joint press place the receiver cup on the control arm around the new ball joint and the adapter with the largest center over the new ball joint threaded stud. The AP7865 ball joint set below includes adapters for 4WD vehicles.
Place the remaining adapter in position with the C-clamp and threaded rod and tighten with a 1/2" impact gun. Install the new grease boot on the ball joint, re-install the steering knuckle, brake components and wheel. Be sure to grease the new ball joint if it has a fitting and follow up with a wheel alignment check.
Riveted Ball Joints are secured with steel factory rivets with cap shaped ends to prevent loosening (not the type that rivet guns are designed to install). This type of rivet is removed by using an air chisel, cold chisel, grinder or cutting torch. After the capped end of the rivet is removed by one of the methods mentioned (taking care not to damage the control arm), a punch and hammer or an air chisel can be used to drive out the rest of the rivet. The new ball joint comes with bolts and nuts to use in place of the rivets.
Threaded Type of Ball Joints was mainly used on older Chrysler products, the ball joints are threaded into the control arm. This type of ball joints have wrench flats that allow for specialty sockets intended just for this purpose to be used. Close attention in starting the new ball joint evenly is needed to prevent cross threading and damaging the control arm.
Q: When replacing ball joints on an 85 Oldsmobile Cutlass, is there a rubber kit as so you can reuse same ball joint?
A: There is no repair kit for a ball joint. A ball joint is always replaced with a new one and there are a few ball joints that are only sold with the control arm as an assembly. There are no rebuild kits or repair parts sold to repair old ball joints, tie rod ends, pitman arms or most idler arms, they are just replaced not rebuilt. Years ago I remember a few idler arms that had replacement bushings available, but that was not the norm. Many front end parts today have no grease fittings, they are said to be lifetime greased. But, if the replacement ball joint has a grease fitting, be sure to install it and fill the ball joint with grease until the grease boot is slightly bulging. Be careful not to damage the grease boot or over-fill it. A damaged grease boot can leak the grease out and allow water and dirt into the ball joint causing it to wear prematurely. It's surprising how many new suspension parts fail soon after they have been installed because they were not lubricated at the time they were put in.