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Ball Joint Replacement

Discussion in 'How-To' started by OldSVTGuy, Sep 28, 2012.

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  1. OldSVTGuy

    OldSVTGuy Member Established Member

    Messages:
    268
    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2006
    Location:
    Dryfork, WV
    FIRST AND FOREMOST - THIS CAN BE A DANGEROUS JOB RESULTING IN INJURY AND/OR POSSIBLY DEATH AS YOU ARE DEALING WITH THE FRONT SUSPENSION SPRING UNDER PRESSURE. NOT PROPERLY SUPPORTING THE CONTROL ARM WITH A JACK CAN RESULT IN THE SPRING FLYING OUT WITH RESULTING INJURY. IF YOU ARE NOT CONFIDENT OF YOUR ABILITIES - DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS JOB. I RATE THE JOB AS A 6/7 OUT OF 10 DIFFICULTY.

    ALSO, IF YOU DO NOT HAVE THE TOOLS LISTED BELOW, YOU CANNOT SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETE THIS JOB.

    It took me about 3 hours a side. You may be better than me. My car is a 2001 Cobra.

    The method I use does not require removing your outer tie rod ends nor the sway bar links. You will need the normal hand and air tools for this job; hopefully, you have a good variety of tools. Other than those specialized tools above, you just need a good variety of sockets and extensions - mostly 1/2".

    I use PB BLaster on all nuts liberally and around the old ball joint.

    The ball joint separator tool:

    CobraBallJoint031_zps5abf3907.jpg

    and the ball joint removal/insertion tool

    CobraBallJoint033_zpseeba652e.jpg

    CobraBallJoint032_zpsfc9f3590.jpg

    are ESSENTIAL to this job.

    First, jack your car up fairly high and put the jack stands under the rear K-member and not under the lower control arms as you will need that area later for putting the floor jack under.

    Take your wheels off - hopefully, you remembered to loosen your lug nuts with the wheel still in contact with the ground but some weight removed.

    CobraBallJoint001_zps2a83a306.jpg

    Then, remove the caliper and support it out of the way. Watch that pesky e-clip. I like to put a towel underneath it so it doesn't bounce around off the cement - I almost lost it one time. I use a magnetic dish to hold my nuts/bolts/stuff that I take off.

    CobraBallJoint002_zps0ddbf626.jpg

    Next, remove the caliper support bracket. I missed the picture of this one but you know the drill - two bolts from the backside of it. Remove the rotor after that and set both aside.

    Next, you will need to remove the ABS sensor, which is just one small bolt. Ford does use locktite on this so it comes out hard the first time. The bracket for the wire is also attached to the strut. There are two nuts on each strut bolt - the first set is to attach the ABS sensor wire - remove the first set of bolts to remove the ABS sensor wire.

    CobraBallJoint006_zps3006115a.jpg

    And, with the whole ABS sensor and wire hanging. You can tuck it away behind the knuckle/spring.

    CobraBallJoint007_zpsf188319e.jpg

    Now, PUT THE JACK UNDER THE CONTROL ARM BUT UNDER THE SPRING PERCH PART!!

    Loosen, but do not remove, the strut nuts.

    CobraBallJoint008_zps34cfb03f.jpg

    You will have to turn your steering wheel to get the most optimum angle for the ball joint separator tool. You can't insert it from the tie rod side as it is in the way, so you'll have to insert it from the back side. However, before that, you can see the ball joint nut by the strut. You can't get to the nut without removing the strut. Here's the photo of the ball joint nut with the strut in place.

    CobraBallJoint009_zps62234b7f.jpg

    Now, remove the strut bolts/nuts MAKING SURE THE JACK IS UNDER THE CONTROL ARM. Remove the strut from the knuckle. THIS IS THE DANGEROUS PART. IF YOUR JACK IS NOT UNDER THE CONTROL ARM, THE SPRING CAN FLY OUT AND SEVERELY INJURE YOU!!!!

    CobraBallJoint010_zps6cf8eaae.jpg

    Now, you can remove the ball joint nut. I use air tools but hand tools will do. Ford uses a nylock nut; the replacement Moog ball joints use a traditional castle nut with cotter pin.

    CobraBallJoint013_zps4a5c0080.jpg

    Once the nut is off, reattach the strut and bolts loosely. Reason - when you separate the knuckle, it helps to have the spring working for you.

    CobraBallJoint014_zps21eb93ff.jpg

    Now, lower your jack just a hair from contact with the control arm - no more than 1/4 inch. Use the separator tool and a one pound sledge hammer - a regular hammer will not work. Believe me, you have to whack this thing and whack it some more until you think something will break before the knuckle breaks loose from the ball joint. I must have had to hit it 20 times before it broke loose

    CobraBallJoint017_zpse48533e0.jpg

    This is the joint separated from the knuckle after removing the strut again.

    CobraBallJoint018_zpsca2761d4.jpg

    Lay the knuckle to one side.

    CobraBallJoint019_zps44587fee.jpg

    Clean the area around the old ball joint.

    Now, you're ready to remove the old ball joint. You will have to use a variety of cups so you can remove/insert the ball joints. Kind of have to figure out what works. First, though, grease up the screw for the ball joint press. It turns a whole lot easier as you have to TURN this sucker. I used a 24" breaker bar but you can use a pipe extender, too.

    CobraBallJoint020_zps7348ced8.jpg

    Pressing the old ball joint out. While I put pressure on, I whacked it with the sledge and it popped each time I hit it. Made removal much easier.

    CobraBallJoint021_zps80c23690.jpg

    Old ball joint out.

    CobraBallJoint022_zps059e155a.jpg

    Before you press the new ball joint in, start the Zerk fitting in it. It's a self-tapper, so it makes it easier to do it this way than when it's already in. Remove the Zerk fitting for now.

    CobraBallJoint025_zpsdabe7347.jpg

    Please note, there is a lip on the underside of the control arm - see here.

    CobraBallJoint027_zps5d086f3e.jpg

    I bring this up because you may think you need to press the new ball joint in further if you use your finger to feel. But the Moog ball joint is much wider at the base than the stocker and you may not realize you're pushing against the lip. The new Moog ball joint is fully seated when you see maybe a little less than 1/8" of the ridging on the top side.

    I cleaned up the hole and used some grease before pressing the new ball joint in.

    CobraBallJoint028_zpsc8237488.jpg

    Then, I put some new grease in after putting the Zerk fitting back on.

    CobraBallJoint030_zps8f90e05a.jpg

    After this, do not forget to put the new seal on. Re-assembly is just the opposite. You may have to "find" the castle nut hole on the new ball joint with the new nut so you can insert the cotter pin.

    I wrote this up because I could find no specific Cobra/Mustang instructions on this job. I hope it helps someone. As I had just replaced my inner and outer tie rods recently, I didn't want to have to separate the outers and, possibly, mess up the seals. This method does not require that. If you are replacing those at the same time, then, go ahead a separate those, too.
     
  2. po-po 5.0

    po-po 5.0 Active Member Established Member

    Messages:
    1,016
    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2006
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    An added trick: if you're in the process of pressing out the ball joint, and you just can't muscle the press to screw any further, thump the control arm with a 5 lb. sledge at a 90° angle from the angle you're pressing the joint. A lot of times this will pop the ball joint loose.
     
  3. frijol79

    frijol79 Member Established Member

    Messages:
    937
    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2013
    Location:
    Nothern Cali
    Great write up. Thanks alot rented all the special tools needed from OReilly.
     
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