A ball joint is a spherical bearing that has the main purpose of establishing a connection between the steering knuckle and the control arm. It pivots between the wheel and the steering system. It is a hardened steel ball that is found in a metal housing. Over time, it can be prone to wear and can affect the stability of the car, whether you are driving at a low or high speed.
If it is already time to replace the ball joint, you came to the right place. In the rest of this guide, you will learn how to press a ball joint, which is important for the removal of the old one and replacement of a new one. You will be happy to know that this is one task that will not require you to pay for the professional services of a trained mechanic.
What You Will Need to Follow this Tutorial
First, you will have to prepare the tools needed for the task:
- New ball joint
- Snap ring pliers
- Brake clean
- Wire brush
- Compressed air
- Penetrating fluid
Here’s a video on what the tools look like and what to do.
Step-by-Step Guide on How to Press a Ball Joint
The video below will show you the right way of pressing a ball joint, followed by a more detailed discussion of the steps that are involved in accomplishing the task:
- Start by parking your vehicle on an even surface and open area where you can work comfortably. Use a jack to lift the car. If you have a car ramp, it is better as you can easily access the ball joint.
- Perform a quick inspection of the ball joint. You would want to be sure that it is indeed the issue and that it is already calling for a replacement.
- Prepare the C-clamp. This is the major tool that you will need and the one that will be responsible for pressing the ball joint. The clamp has a hole at the bottom, which is the part that will allow you to press in and out the ball joint in the absence of touching the stud.
- In the case of most ball joints, there will be a snap ring that you can see on the top surrounding the old one. Remove that part first with the use of snap ring pliers.
- Once it is off, you are free to press the ball joint. But, before doing so, use brake clean, wire brush, and compressed air to clean the ball joint. Apply penetrating fluid as well, which will make the removal of the ball joint easier when it is time to press.
- Arrange the C-clamp. While the top part will already touch the ball joint, in the case of the bottom part, you will need an attachment that can push against the control arm. You can find it in your C-clamp kit. Pick which one is suitable for the ball joint that is currently installed.
- Now, you are ready. Position the attachment beneath the ball joint and make sure that it is not touching the ball joint, just the control arm. Position the C-clamp and have it placed in the middle of the top of the ball joint. Use a breaker bar to turn the clamp until the ball joint is released.
- Clean the control arm and inspect to be sure that there are no damages.
- Prepare the new ball joint and have it pressed in. Back at your kit, choose an attachment that will touch the end of the ball joint but will not touch the inside. The position of the clamp will be reversed from the earlier set-up. Turn the clamp until the new ball joint is in position. Put the split ring, press down on both sides, and you are now done!
Below, you will see some tips about ball joints, including the signs that should be taken as an indication that the ball joint is failing and that it is already asking for a replacement.
Signs of a Failing Ball Joint
When would you know that it is time to remove the old ball joint and have it replaced with a new one? The following are some of the symptoms that you should watch out for:
- Clunking Noise: Once you hear a noise originating from the front suspension, you already have a reason to suspect that the ball joint is experiencing a problem. Through time, with excessive wear, ball joints can become loose from their original position, which is why they can make a sound that is easy to notice.
- Excessive Vibration: When you are driving, if you notice that your vehicle is vibrating more than usual, this could also be taken as a sign that the ball joint needs a replacement. Determine which side of the vehicle the vibration is coming from, which should identify which ball joint has a problem.
- Uneven Tire Wear: As a part of regular care and maintenance, you have to inspect the condition of the tires. If they show uneven signs of wear from the two sides, you might also want to look at the ball joint as it can be the reason for the latter.
Types of Ball Joints
If you are thinking of replacing the ball joints of your car or truck, you need to be familiar with the different types that are available so that you will know which one is suitable for your needs:
- Load-Carrying Ball Joint: As the name implies, this type carries the weight of the vehicle. It comes with a spring support, which is the one that is responsible for controlling the arm.
- Non-Load Carrying Ball Joint: Also known as a follower ball joint, it usually wears slower compared to the other type basically because it does not support the weight.
Care and Maintenance of Ball Joints
As the owner of the vehicle, you need to be proactive in taking care of the ball joints to make it last longer before asking for a replacement. The best thing that you can do is to make sure that the chassis is lubricated properly. This is going to minimize friction.
Frequent cleaning of the under-body of your vehicle is also recommended, especially if it is often used for off-road driving. The reason for this is that mud and dirt can get stuck underneath and can enter the ball joints.
After reading this post, we hope that you have learned how to press a ball joint. You need a basic tool to do the job, which can be rented from a local mechanic instead of having it purchased. With your new ball joints, you can drive quieter and smoother, while also having peace of mind about your safety when on the road.