How To: Balljoint replacement

Thought I'd do a write up on how to do this on a Fox chassis vehicle. In this case, it's a 1990 Mustang. The Haynes manual says the balljoint isn't serviceable so it doesn't cover the replacement in the book. This was the first time I've ever done this and can honestly say it's pretty easy. Don't let a shop charge you 2.5 hours for a job you can do no problem.

NOTE: Attempt at your own risk.


   The first thing you'll need to do is get the car in the air. The usual stuff... jack, good jack stands, e-brake on.
   The only thing missing from this pic is the balljoint press.

   Now that it's in the air, pull the wheel off. Pull the caliper off. There are two long bolts holding it on, you'll need an 11/16" socket to remove them.
   Once off, hang it off the spring with some wire. Don't let it dangle off the brake line.
   Now you'll need to remove the rotor/hub assembly. To do this, pull the dust cap off with a set of channel locks. Remove the cotter pin with a pair of side cutters, remove the castle cover to expose the nut, and remove the nut with a 1 1/8" socket. Now wiggle the rotor to get the outer bearing and indexed washer to slide out far enough to grab off. The rotor can now be pulled off. Then remove the backing plate, there are three 3/8" bolts.
   You've now exposed the spindle assembly.
   Remove the cotter pins from the tie-rod end and the balljoint. Squirt some penetrant on the tie-rod and balljoint castle nuts, as well as the two nuts holding the spindle and strut together.
   Back off the balljoint nut a few threads with a 15/16" wrench. Do not remove it.
   Insert the balljoint pickle fork, which you can borrow from Autozone or buy for about $5. You want to insert it between the spindle and balljoint and then hammer away until it pops. You could use a pickle fork attachment on an airhammer too to make it easier.
   You'll now need to put a jack under the control arm and take up some slack. KEEP IT THERE Once you remove the balljoint nut there's nothing keeping the spring from flying out except the jack under the control arm. Once the jack is in place and taking off some pressure, the balljoint nut should thread off by hand.
   Now use a 3/4" socket and back off the tie-rod castle nut a few threads, just as you did with the balljoint nut. Grab a BFH and bang the spindle until the tie-rod pops. Again, an airhammer will make short work of it. Remove the nut and pull the tie-rod out and let it hang.
   Using a 13/16" wrench as back up, remove the two 15/16" nuts holding the spindle and strut together. An impact comes in handy here. The spindle can now be removed.
   If your balljoint was pretty bad, it probably already fell out. If not, grab the BFH again and remove the balljoint by banging it out.
   You'll need a balljoint press to install the new joint. You might find some autoparts places that will loan/rent one to you. I borrowed one from a mechanic friend. Just be sure to secure the use of one before you start this project. You'll also need a LONG snipe. My 1/2" impact wouldn't budge it. I used a 1/2" ratchet and the handle from the jack.

Once the joint is pressed in, put on the rubber boot. Install the spindle and tighten the new balljoint castle nut a few threads. Using the jack, align the holes in the strut and spindle and reinstall the two bolts. I didn't torque them, just rattled them with the impact. Haynes says to torque them to 140-200 ft-lbs. Tighten the balljoint castle nut. It is listed at 80-120 ft-lbs, but I couldn't get a socket in there so I tightened it as much as I could with the wrench. Install the new cotter pin. You can now remove the jack from under the control arm. Put the tie-rod back together and torque down, it is listed at 35-47 ft-lbs. After torqueing, tighten until the castle nut and cotter pin hole line up. Install a new cotter pin.

The balljoint and tie-rod will have grease fittings. Fill the balljoint with grease, using a grease gun, and do the tie-rod too. Now install the backing plate, rotor and outer bearing parts. Haynes says to tighten the axle nut to 17-25 ft-lbs, then back off 1/2 turn, then retorque to 10-15 in-lbs. I just do it by feel, leaving a slight drag on the rotor when I spin it by hand. Install the caliper and wheel. Remember to remove the wire you used to tie up the caliper, I always forget to. Now do the other side.

You shouldn't need an alignment. The tie-rod was not adjusted and as long as your previous alignment was done without compensating for a bad balljoint, you should be okay. However, if the car feels odd, or you notice odd tire wear, or you're just a worry wart, get an alignment.


This page created by Dave Anderson, aka Puffcookie, Notch1988 or 88POSLX

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