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ball joints

This is a discussion on ball joints within the Technical / Maintenance forums, part of the General Discussion category; how hard is it to replace ball joints i have a 1994 gmc 1500 and i am thinking of replacing ...

  1. #1
    Redneck GMC Sierra's Avatar
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    ball joints


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    how hard is it to replace ball joints i have a 1994 gmc 1500 and i am thinking of replacing my ball joints. but i have heard horrer stories so tell me what you guys think. should i take it some where or do it myself

    2004 Chevy Silverado ECSB Z-71-----LOUD PIPES...SAVE LIVES D.F.W.A

  2. #2
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    Re: ball joints

    I suggest you DIY cause it doesn't take that much effort to save yourself a lot of money in labor costs. I've never had what I would call a horror story involving replacing balljoints. I have a 99 but I used to have a 93 and if memory serves me right they were the same - the uppers were riveted but my lowers were pressed in. Yours are probably the same. It's kind of a PITA to grind off the rivet heads and punch them out, but once it's done you won't have to do it next time. I'd use a cutting wheel on a drill or on an impact tool if you have a compressor.

    The very first thing to do is to buy a Haynes or Chilton's manual on your truck if you don't have one already. It outlines the how tos on several procedures, including this one, and it's a good thing to have.

    Anyway, first thing to do is borrow a balljoint press from a parts house for a refundable deposit. Should be about $100, but you get it all back when you take it back. You're also going to need a breaker bar and a socket that fits over the hex end of the balljoint press. Borrow a pickle fork also if you don't have one.

    Jack up your front end and support it with jackstands. Remove the cotter pin from the balljoint stud and loosen the castellated nut. Using the picklefork and a 5lb sledge separate the wheel spindle from the control arm. Finish removing the balljoint castellated nut from the balljoint stem and pull the balljoint/control arm assembly out of the wheel spindle. Grind or cut off the rivet heads flush with the control arm, trying not to gouge the control arm. Using a hammer (or your sledge) and punch, knock out the rivets and remove the old balljoint. The new one will come with nuts and bolts. Repeat the applicable steps for the lower, but like I said, the lowers are probably pressed in so you can just use the balljoint press to push them out after you separate the lower control arm and the spindle, setting the spindle out of the way. If it makes sense to remove the spindle first before going after the rivet heads and driving them out, then do that.

    The control arms and the cv axle do not have to be removed to replace your balljoints.

    When reinstalling the balljoint make sure that it's not coqed (spell editor caught this the first time) otherwise it will bind and reinstallation will be near impossible. Getting the balljoint correctly aligned with the hole is the most important step in the procedure. Also coat the outside diameter (ridged edge) with loctite (a small tube should come with the new balljoints) and it will help lube the balljoint and facilitate it going back in. Make sure your zirc fittings are orientated correctly with respect to the cutouts or dimples in the control arms, so you can access them for greasing after they are installed.

    After you get the balljoint started in the hole press it in slowly with by turning the balljoint press with your breaker bar until you get close to full installation, where the shoulder on the balljoint mates up with the control arm. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT: At this point go slow and check your progress. The pressing hardware that comes with the balljoint press may not allow for full travel and may actually crush the zirc fitting before the balljoint is fully pressed into the control arm. This happened to me and I went and bought a 1/4" steel plate to use in conjunction with the balljoint press cylindrical adapters.

    I hope this helped and you get it done. It's not that bad of a job, but the first time is a little tricky. Good luck.
    Last edited by TX Tahoe; 10-27-2006 at 11:16 AM.
    99 Z71 Tahoe
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  3. #3
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    Re: ball joints

    Suggestion..........on hi-mileage vehicles.......consider:

    Changing the control arm bushings (upper and lower) and the tie rod ends..........since you're saving all that $$$ (DIY) and will be keeping the vehicle.

    Aloha, Mark

    PS.........I've saved these for folks like yourself (and me, when the time comes):

    to replace the balljoints on an 89 4x4 you don't have to have a balljoint press, both the upper and lower balljoint's are riveted to the control arms with large steel rivets. All you have to do is raise the vehicle and support the lower control arms with jackstands,remove the wheel, remove your tie rod, then remove your CV axle nut from the center of the hub, and take your upper and lower ball joint nuts loose(not all the way off, just loose enough so you can see 4-5 threads between the nut and the steering knuckle) and at the steering knuckle where the stud of the ball joint goes through it, whack the hell out off the knuckle with a heavy hammer, at the upper joint and at the lower joint. Beating the hell out of the knucle will break the press fit tapered studs loose from thier holes, thus avoiding the use of a balljoint seperator, once the studs are loose remove the upper nut all the way and pickup on the upper arm, this will let the knucle tilt out towards you(your CV axle may take some persuasion to be pushed through the hub and out the backside) grab the knuckle assembly firmly and lift up a little bit and remove the lower nut, now rest th whole knuckle, rotor, caliper assembly on a large block of wood or somethin similar, but dont drop it because you will break you brake hose, now you will need to grind the heads off of the rivets with a small sidegrinder and use a hammer and punch to drive the rivets out of the control arms. your new ball joints will come with bolts, nuts, and lock washers to bolt them onto the control arms, once you finish bolting in the new balljoints reassemble the knuckle, axle, and control arms in reverse order, and repeat for the other side. If my explanation of hitting the knuckle with a hammer to get the studs loose from thier holes is good enough for you to figure out what I'm talking about then that will elimnate the use for a balljoint separator, and the fact that an 89 4X4 has riveted in balljoints rather than press fit eliminates the need for a balljoint press, so other than a sidegrinder and a large enough socket to remove the axle nut you can do this job with simple hand tools. hope this helps you out, and hope I explained it so you can visualize what I'm talking about, I have probably done 50-100 sets of balljoints on all different makes of trucks and cars, so if you have any questions feel free to ask, John

    _________________________________

    I just came in from replacing mine! It's easy. I had to rent the press tool from the auto parts but that was it. A buddy would have been alot of help to hold the wheel out of the way. Just remove the tierod and let it fall. Loosen the nut on top of the ball joint about a 1/4" and use a fork to seperate the ball joint and spindle. Use your floorjack to raise the arm so you can remve the nut. Then lower the jack. I'm sure you knew to have the truck jacked up already and on a jackstand. This is were you need your buddy to help lift the wheel out of the way. If there is knowbody to help I used some 2x4's and fought them under the wheel. You will see what you need to do to get it clear of the stem on the balljoint. You will have to figure out how to ust the removale tool it is a c-clamp with spacers. Press the balljoint out and press a new one in. line up yhe spindle and stem. Use the floorjack to lift the arm and putt the nut on the stem.you can do the rest. I had never done it before and it took me 2.5 hrs for each side. The only big wrench you need is a 1-1/16.
    the rest are small like 3/4 channel locks and maybe needlenose for yhe cotter pins. A pickle fork and a 8lb hammer needs to be close. good luck.
    Last edited by ma96782; 10-27-2006 at 11:41 AM.
    '95 Silverado ECSB, K1500, Z71, 4x4, 5.7L, TBI, 4l60e 4 spd auto trans, 3.73, G80, LT245/75R16, alum 6 lug wheels, 6 leaf springs on each side, 14 bolt rear, disc/drum (Code JB6-7200 lb rated), 6600 GVWR (Code C5S), HD chassis (Code F44).........basically stock.

  4. #4
    Registered User Arctic_Scrap's Avatar
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    Re: ball joints

    On a '94 they will be riveted in unless they were replaced before. The upper ball joint is fairly easy, the lower is always harder. Taking out the CV shaft makes things way easier. Grind down the tops of the rivets then melt them with a torch if you have one or use an air chisel. If you don't have either of these you can use a hammer and a hole punch or try to drill them out. On my truck after trying all these methods besides a torch since I don't have one I ended up drilling them out with 3 different bits, starting with the smallest.
    Last edited by Arctic_Scrap; 10-27-2006 at 02:30 PM.
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  5. #5
    Redneck GMC Sierra's Avatar
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    Re: ball joints

    sounds like a weekend prject

    2004 Chevy Silverado ECSB Z-71-----LOUD PIPES...SAVE LIVES D.F.W.A

  6. #6
    Registered User thegreat1's Avatar
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    Re: ball joints

    make sure you guys check out the tech articles section, it has alot of good info......this one just happens to be from me


    http://www.fullsizechevy.com/forums/...d.php?t=118859
    Last edited by thegreat1; 10-27-2006 at 05:15 PM.
    1990 c/k1500 sport
    standard cab shortbox(R.I.P.)
    1990 k2500 standard cab longbed

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    Re: ball joints

    Has anybody put the performance chip in there truck do they really work i was going to get one. Or is there anything i can get that would perform better for the money.

 

 

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