Things I learned while replacing ball joints

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Boots97

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Hi Everyone,

This post is rehashing a lot of the @SlimPickinz went through, but I wanted a separate post because I wanted to delve a little deeper without creating a long winded response.

I was originally planning to have all my bushings replaced at a local shop I go to. The service tech looked it over and tested the bushings with a 3ft prybar and he's 200 lbs. He told me that the bushings were a little dry rotted, but were still very stiff and all I really needed to do is replace ball joints if I wanted to.

So I went ahead and did just that. I bought Moog Upper Ball Joints and AC Delco lower ball joints from Rockauto. While doing this process, I learned a lot...

First off, I would HIGHLY recommend using an air chisel to chop off the rivets off the UCA. I drilled mine and broke several drill bits in the process and broke several chisels since I tried chipping them off by hand with a chisel and a BFH. It works, but you'll be at it for 2+ hours prying it out. Thankfully, I had a shop press so once the Upper Ball Joint was separated from the UCA, I just brought the UCA down to my basement and pressed the remaining chopped off rivet out of the holes.

When it comes to lower ball joints, AutoZone has 2 ball joint tools. One comes with a giant C clamp and a few cups and there's another set with a bunch of other sized cups. You'll need both sets. There's this one weird looking cup in the cups only set that looks like this.
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That one is used to press out the lower ball joint. It goes around the ledge of the lower ball joint and is cut out for you to see the ball joint pressing out. I punched the passenger side out with a BFH bc the tutorial on 1A Auto said to beat it out with a hammer. That works but you'll be at it FOREVER before it gives. This is FAR better.

Also, You'll need to press the lower ball joint in stages. When I installed the AC Delco Ball joints, they started to go in crooked. I popped the lower ball joint out snd readjusting the ball joint several times but to no luck. I tried impacting it on with my Milwaukee impact driver and it wasn't going anywhere. I went out and bought a Milwaukee Mid Tourque impact wrench to see if that would do any better at shoving the crooked ball joint in...it didn't. I then got pissed but regained my composure and fooled around with the ball joint press while tightening by hand with a 1/2 drive ratchet. Once I was patient and readjusted the placement of the ball joint press, it went in fine and I was relieved. That took me 2.5 days of work and it was finally over. Lubricating the ball joint body and LCA is not necessary either. The ball joint went in better when I didn't lube the LCA or ball joint body.

Lastly, I would HIGHLY recommend the Lock N Lube grease coupler. I bought a cheap Performax Grease Gun from Menards (Midwest hardware store chain) years ago and always DREADED greasing anything bc the stock coupler wouldn't grip on the zerk and would spread grease everywhere. The knurling was weak so I could hardly grip the coupler without using a pair of pliers. Eventually I said screw this and looked at grease gun couplers online. I found the Lock N Lube on Amazon for $33 and while it was pricey, it was well worth the money. SO much easier to use with the large lever and the coupler actually grips the zerk and gets grease in the zerk. Occasionally it won't work and will spread grease elsewhere, but it is FAR better than what I had and I wish I would've bought it years ago.

P.S. For my Missouri friends, If you live in central MO, Do y'all have a lot of dirt roads in that area? I'm from MN and I was pleasantly surprised how little rust this trucks suspension components had on it, but everything was covered in a 1/4 inch of caked on mud. I'm also assuming that my ball joints were original with the vehicle bc the boots were shredded and the lower ball joints had this green adhesive on them once I pulled them out.
 

Caman96

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I bought Acdelco upper control arms and replaced with TTX ball joints. When I drilled them out, I think I used 3 different sizes. Maybe 10 minutes total for each UCA. But I wonder if the old rivets were a better metal, mine drilled out like butter. I did use new cobalt bits/oil though.
 

Caman96

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Aftermarket BJs don't use rivets, they use bolts. If you drilled, they were original.
They were definitely rivets. I bought them off Amazon, but I’ll tell you, there was always a part of me that thought they weren’t Acdelco parts, they came in Acdelco boxes. But, yes they were riveted.
 

someotherguy

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They were definitely rivets. I bought them off Amazon, but I’ll tell you, there was always a part of me that thought they weren’t Acdelco parts, they came in Acdelco boxes. But, yes they were riveted.
I haven't bought any of these loaded control arms yet, but you gotta figure they're not coming from the same vendors the original ones did 25-30 years ago. The originals were absolutely some hardcore rivets; I've drilled 'em out on the press. Not difficult that way but they were clearly strong material. These days? Whoever in China making them outta whatever they got.. even if they're "legit" AC Delco. They've farmed out operations long ago.

Richard
 

Caman96

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I haven't bought any of these loaded control arms yet, but you gotta figure they're not coming from the same vendors the original ones did 25-30 years ago. The originals were absolutely some hardcore rivets; I've drilled 'em out on the press. Not difficult that way but they were clearly strong material. These days? Whoever in China making them outta whatever they got.. even if they're "legit" AC Delco. They've farmed out operations long ago.

Richard
Yeah I was never under the impression I had purchased or was purchasing original grade UCA’s. But, I’m happy with them with TTX ball joints in them.
 

Schurkey

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I was originally planning to have all my bushings replaced at a local shop I go to. The service tech looked it over and tested the bushings with a 3ft prybar and he's 200 lbs. He told me that the bushings were a little dry rotted, but were still very stiff and all I really needed to do is replace ball joints if I wanted to.
Seems unlikely for the upper bushings, at least. The upper bushings separate from the inner sleeves, then the inner sleeve rusts which splits the bushing rubber.
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The "skinny" steel sleeve is what's left after the rust is removed.
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I used Polyurethane bushings in the '88 K1500 top and bottom. The upper bushing inserts don't come with a replacement steel sleeve--I had to make my own. This would be fun...if I had a lathe. I had to do it the hard way. Took me days.

The lower bushing inserts have new steel sleeves included.

I got new upper arms for the K2500; and replaced the lower BJs, but didn't replace the lower bushings.

First off, I would HIGHLY recommend using an air chisel to chop off the rivets off the UCA. I drilled mine and broke several drill bits in the process and broke several chisels since I tried chipping them off by hand with a chisel and a BFH. It works, but you'll be at it for 2+ hours prying it out. Thankfully, I had a shop press so once the Upper Ball Joint was separated from the UCA, I just brought the UCA down to my basement and pressed the remaining chopped off rivet out of the holes.
Back in '97, I tried removing upper control arm rivets with an air hammer + chisel bit. This was before I had a proper air compressor. I was using a 120-volt compressor with 20-gallon tank. The air hammer would run for three seconds and then I didn't have sufficient pressure.

Given a REAL air compressor (2-stage, 80-gallon tank) this might be viable. Not sure if I'd want to do it with a single-stage, 60 gallon tank.

An angle-grinder on the rivets is another viable option.

"Most" guys would just buy the replacement upper arm and then not deal with the bushings or the ball-joint pressing. I don't understand buying a new control arm, and then replacing the new ball joint with another new ball joint from a different brand. Wear the thing out, THEN replace the ball joint.

When it comes to lower ball joints, AutoZone has 2 ball joint tools. One comes with a giant C clamp and a few cups and there's another set with a bunch of other sized cups. You'll need both sets.
I went to AutoZone a few years ago to get a ball-joint press from their loaner-tool program. The tool set they handed me looked absolutely new. The price was right. I told them right then it was not going to come back, they could just keep my money.
That set worked perfectly on my K2500 with forged arms, and the lower BJs on my Trailblazer.
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Lubricating the ball joint body and LCA is not necessary either. The ball joint went in better when I didn't lube the LCA or ball joint body.
I'm surprised they didn't give you green anaerobic sealer/locker.
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I would HIGHLY recommend the Lock N Lube grease coupler... ...I found the Lock N Lube on Amazon for $33 and while it was pricey, it was well worth the money... ...I wish I would've bought it years ago.
ABSOLUTELY.

the lower ball joints had this green adhesive on them once I pulled them out.
Thus me being surprised the new BJs didn't have the green anaerobic gel.
 

Boots97

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Seems unlikely for the upper bushings, at least. The upper bushings separate from the inner sleeves, then the inner sleeve rusts which splits the bushing rubber.
You must be registered for see images attach


The "skinny" steel sleeve is what's left after the rust is removed.
You must be registered for see images attach
Yeah those look bad. Mine were a little dry rotted, but nowhere nearly as bad as those. The bushings were still super stiff even when removing them out of the truck so I just let them be. At some point I'll probably replace them though.
I'm surprised they didn't give you green anaerobic sealer/locker.
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Yeah I saw this picture on another thread. I'm a little surprised I didn't get any green anaerobic sealer/gel either especially bc I bought AC Delco lower ball joints. Not a big deal to me though. I don't believe it's necessary IMO.
 
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